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Friday, June 24, 2011


7D Ranch. Cody, Wyoming

7dlodge.jpgHorseback riding is the premier activity at the 7D. We cater to all levels of riders from the first time rider to the highly experienced. We have a horse herd of 75 well broke mountain horses and we carefully match each rider to the appropriate horse for the entire week. Private instruction is always an option for those wanting to work on their horsemanship skills. Overnight pack trips are also options for the adventurous. Whether you are on an all-day excursion, the Brunch Ride, or a 3 hour ride, being on horseback is an amazing way to experience the mountains and this spectacular area of the Absaroka Mountains!

7dpasture.jpgFishing is another great activity at the ranch. The Sunlight River flows directly through the ranch for easy access and our fishing guide is available to you for fishing anywhere in the Sunlight Basin. We also offer a hiking/fishing excursion into the Beartooth Mountains each week that is another great opportunity to fish some additional waters and enjoy the beauty of these high mountain lakes and breathtaking views of Wyoming and Montana!

Many guests enjoy a break from the saddle and choose to hike from the ranch with a guide, take a day trip into Yellowstone, river raft on the Shoshone River through Cody, or spend a day in Cody at the Museum, rodeo or just exploring the western town. Each evening we will visit with you about what you and your family would like to do the next day. We strive to make this a custom vacation for each family or individual by offering a flexible schedule.

7driver.jpgIf you are traveling with children, you will be happy to know that the 7D is well known for its children's program. We take great pride in this program and kids have a blast! The program is designed for kids 5-12 but younger children often enjoy participating in many of the activities. Each day provides kids with a different nature experience focusing on horses, cowboys, rivers/streams & wildlife! We also offer babysitting for younger children for an additional fee.
The 7D is most definitely a genuine western and fabulous family experience! Whether you are riding, hiking or fishing, you always have an opportunity to see wildlife. We would love to show you our western brand of hospitality and share our piece of the Wyoming mountains with you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011



4:00pm, New Guests check in at ranch office. After being greeted by the ranch managers, Guests are shown to their cabin. After dropping off luggage, new guests are given a tour of the ranch and it's facilities.

5:00pm, Guests relax and settle in to their cabins. At this time they can wander around on their own, see the horses, fish, swim in the pool, or go to the trading post for a new cowboy hat.

6:30pm, Dinner in the lodge. Guests and ranch staff enjoy meals together. This is a chance to meet some of the wranglers and other staff.

8:30pm, Orientation out on the huge deck of the lodge. This is where the guests meet the entire staff, and introduce themselves. Then we talk about the different activities scheduled for the week. Guests will then sign up for some of these, such as rafting, fishing trips and the over night pack trip.



7:00 am, Hot coffee is brought to each cabin for those who must have their java fix first thing in the morning.

8:00am, Guest Breakfast in the lodge.

8:30am, A van leaves for town to pick up items guests may have forgotten to bring such as beer, wine, toothpaste, film etc.

8:45am, Three to five year olds start their own ride with their councilor on the ranch’s black pony, "SPADE".

9:00am, Orientation rides begin. All guests already have a horse assigned to them by the head wrangler. Horses are assigned based on height, weight, age and riding experience. On the first day of riding, families ride together. Each ride will consist of no more than ten guests. Two wranglers will be on all rides. Under no circumstances will guests be allowed to ride without a wrangler. Orientation rides last about two hours, which include an orientation speech about basic horsemanship and safety, followed by some instruction in the arena. When everyone feels comfortable with their new horse, it's off to the trail for about an hour.

12:30pm, Hamburger cookout by the pool.

2:00pm, Afternoon trail rides begin. This afternoon we are offering three different rides ranging from an hour and a half to three hours.

2:00 pm, Basic fishing instruction at the upper pond. This is for all ages. Parents will have to determine whether small fries are old enough.

2:30pm, Riding instruction in the arena. This will last any where from forty minutes to two hours depending on how many people sign up.

5:30PM, Happy hour on the porch of Dad's Old Fart Brewery for the adults. The hay ride for the kids leaves from the brewery.

6:00 pm, The hay ride, drawn by our team of draft horses, Zeus and Apollo will take about half an hour and meet the adults at the picnic area by the lower pond for a steak cookout.

8:00pm, Smores by the bon fire, along with guitar playing and singing old cowboy songs. 

Tuesdays rides are centered around a brunch cookout at the top of Indian Head Mountain, where our cooks will meet the rides.

7:00am, Early morning ride leaves for a one and a half hour ride. This is an adults only ride. Councilors will be on hand to watch the kids while their parents are gone.

8:00am, Teens leave with their councilor, for a short ride of their own.

8:30am, The six to eleven year olds head out to the arena for horse games before their half hour ride to Indian Head Mountain.

8:45am, There will be a van going up to brunch for anyone not riding.

9:00am, Brunch is served. "Cookie" is there with the biggest frying pan you have ever seen.

10:00am, Six to eleven's mount up for a two hour ride back to the ranch. Then it's the pool for these guys. The councilors will be with them all afternoon, so mom and dad can do their own thing.

10:15am, The teens head off on a three hour adventure to a little water fall on Poplar creek to try their hand at little panning for gold.

10:30am, Now that we have gotten rid of all the kids, the grown up can choose between a short one hour ride back to the ranch, or a longer four hour ride. On this ride we will do some faster riding along old logging roads.

12:00 For those who don't want to ride quite so much, we are taking a van trip to Little Switzerland for some shopping. This is a very scenic drive through winding mountain roads. We will return to the ranch around 4:00 pm.

4:30pm, All rides have returned. Time to relax before dinner.

6:30pm, All the kids head down to the lower pond for hot dogs and games with the councilors.

7:00pm, The adults will be treated to a fancy dinner in the lodge with candle light and wine.

9:00 Time to collect your kids and head off to bed. The councilors are pretty tired too.

7:00 am, Breakfast in the lodge for all those going rafting.

7:30am, Vans leave for the all day rafting trip on the Colorado River. This trip is for everyone eight and older.

8:00am, Breakfast for all those not rafting.

9:00am, All day ride leaves for Rich Mountain. We will take sack lunches with us. No vans on this ride. Rich Mountain is about an eight-hour ride. This ride is for adults and teens.

9:30am, Six to eleven's head out for Poplar Creek to have a PB&J picnic. And then try their luck at panning for gold. These guys will be busy all day. They will be taken care of until the rafting trip returns around 4:00 pm.

10:00am, For those who don't want to ride all day, we have an easy two hour ride.

12:30pm, Lunch in the lodge for that one guest that is still on the ranch.

2:00pm, Instruction in the arena.
4:00pm, The rafting trip returns. Time for a nap before diner.

6:30pm Dinner in the lodge.

8:00pm, Tonight is talent night. In the lounge we have invited a local Mountain Man to tell some stories and do a little banjo picking. All guest are invited to show off their talent, skits, piano playing or whatever. The staff will be there to show off as well. Who knows, Dad might even show up with some of his special brew.


8:00 am, Breakfast in the lodge.

9:00am, Time to head out on the over night pack trip. This is for adults and teens. After a fantastic all day ride, we will meet "Cookie" at our camp for steaks, peach cobbler and a cold beer. This trip is not for wimps. It's a real taste of what life in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in the 1880's was like, only with a better sleeping bag and better food.

10:00am, Rides start leaving for a two hour ride to Byrd Creek for a Tex Mex cookout. This ride is for all ages. The Teens will take their own ride with their councilor. On this ride they will get the chance to do some faster riding. Sorry, no adults on this ride. Six to eleven's and their parents will ride together.

11:45am, There will be a van leaving from the lodge to take the three to five's and anyone not riding to lunch.

12:00pm, Lunch is served.

1:00pm, Six to Eleven's head back for games in the arena and then a swim in the pool.

1:15pm, Adults can choose from a one hour ride straight back to the ranch, or a longer three hour ride.

2:00pm,This afternoon we have two van trips. First a short drive to Roan Mountain Gardens to take a beautiful hike. The other van will be going to Georgetown for a little shopping.

5:30pm, Happy hour on the porch of Dad's Old Fart Brewery.

6:30pm, Kids head to the pool for pizza and games.

7:00pm, Adults meet at the lower pond for dinner and some guitar playing by our own wranglers.

8:00am, Pancake Breakfast on the porch of the lodge.

8:30am, Susan will be leading a rigorous three hour hike to the cliffs of Ball Buster Ridge. This hike is for anyone but it is a tough hike and you should consider whether or not you think you are up for it.

8:30am, Today we are going to take the kids off your hands for the whole day. For them we are going to Georgetown, about an hour away. There they will ride the narrow gauge train and then go to a famous candy store.

9:00am, Lisa will be taking a nature hike. This will last about an hour. Lisa is a famous botanist from Haiti. She will correctly identify every flower, bush, and shrubbery.

9:00am, All day ride for adults and teens leaves for Spivies Gap.

9:30am, We know that at this point some of you are getting a little tired, so we have an easy, short one and half hour ride along Poplar Creek. At about the half way point your wrangler will stop the ride for a break. He will tie up the horses and then spend about half an hour telling you unbelievable lies about his thirty year career as a Texas Ranger.

10:30am, After a two hour ride, the over-nighters return in time for a shower before lunch.

12:30pm, Lunch on the porch of Dad's Old Fart Brewery.

2:00 pm, Rodeo practice for everyone. You don’t have to practice to participate in the rodeo, but your chances of winning a Blue ribbon might be a little better.

2:00 PM, Skeet shooting for teen and adults.

2:30 pm, Two hour ride.

5:00 pm, Kids return from Grandfather Mountain.

6:30 pm, Dinner in the lodge for everyone.

8:00 pm, Square dance. Don’t be shy, anyone can square dance and all the wranglers and staff will be there to strut their stuff.

8:00 am Ted has been in the kitchen since 4am making his famous biscuits and gravy. This is the best you have ever tasted but don’t ask what’s in it.

9:00 am, Kid’s rodeo practice.

9:30 am, Last chance for a half day ride with Ted or your favorite wrangler.

9:30 am, Lisa is taking another hike. This one is pretty easy and good for anyone who wants to go.

9:30 am, Skeet shooting again for teens and adults.

2:30 pm, Lunch by the pool.

2:00 pm, Off to the arena for everyone. It’s time for the rodeo, to show off the horsemanship skills you learned this week.

6:30 pm, Cookout by the lower pond for everyone. Beef tenderloin, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and a home made dessert you won’t soon forget.

8:00 pm, Everyone to the pool for find out the results of the rodeo. Ribbons and commentary from Ted. This is the time for good-bye’s and exchanging addresses. We hope to see many of you back again next year.


8:00 am, Breakfast in the lodge.

8:30 am, Vans start leaving for the airport.

Thanks for coming and we hope to see you again.

Dude Ranch Vacation

Sunday, June 12, 2011


This post is not so much about dude ranching as it is about what horses can do for us. My daughter Elizabeth is 6 years old. From February 2006 to October 2011 I was the general manager of the Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Montana. During those first years Elizabeth’s life I was working 15-16 hours a day 6-7 days a week during the summer and 12 hours a day for the rest of the year. We really did not spend much time together. In the summer Elizabeth and her bother Dodge (3 years old) would come to the ranch now and then and go on pony rides or participate in the guest rodeo. But there were times when I was too busy and one of the other staff working on the ranch would take my kids around. I do not regret this time working on the ranch. I have lived and breathed dude ranching since I was 13 years old. I do however wish I had made a point of making more time for my kids.

In October of last year with my wife Lisa we moved to Cody, Wyoming. Since then I have been working to build my Dude Ranch Vacation Travel Agency and Dude Ranch Consultant Service. These business models are somewhat unique and with little money proving difficult to get off the ground.  I have built two web sites and spend most of my time either working on promoting these businesses or thinking about them. At the same time I have become a stay at home dad. Going from managing a ranch with 30+ guests, 20 staff and 55 horses to driving kids to school, swimming, and ballet lessons has been a difficult adjustment for me. I have at time even resented having to spend so much time with my family because it was taking time away from building the business.

I still struggle with spending time working and with my wife and kids, but about three weeks ago our horses helped make this a little easier. Until just recently Elizabeth had been mostly interested in being a princess. Being a cowgirl was secondary and the horses were kind of a prop. About three weeks ago she asked if she could go riding with me. The first day I held her lead rope and we walked down to the river and back. Since that day she is riding completely on her own and started loping in the arena a couple of days ago. She wants to ride everyday now and asks me all the time when are we going to ride.

Before we started riding together it seemed to me she had little use for me. At night she always wanted her mother to put her to bed, she wanted to ride in mom’s car and she would hardly ever say hello or even acknowledge me when I came home. Now she is more snuggly toward me, she says I love you daddy when she goes to bed and gives me a hug when she gets up in the morning.

I don’t think this new horseback riding connection has made me a better parent but it has greatly improved my relationship with my daughter. Now she asks me when I am going to find a ranch for us so she can be the ranch manager when she grows up. Thank god for horses. For those of you who don't have horses, take your kids to a dude ranch for a vacation. You will not reget it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Google Plus One

I wanted to share a new tool that I discovered from Google. It is called Google +1. It is a button you can put one your web site that people who visit your site can click on if they link the content of your site. It is kind of the same thing as the Like button on Facebook. I would like to invite my connections to go to my site and click the + 1 button at the bottom right on my home page. “

Anyone interested in putting it on your site go to this link. “ “ On this page you can copy the html code to embed the button on your site. This program helps with ranking on Google. If anyone does put this on your site and would like me to start the ball and click on your +1 let me know.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Dude Ranch Vacation

For people looking for a ranch vacation I recommend ranches that have completed the Dude Ranchers Association Wrangler Safety Certification.


 The idea that any dude ranch operation is going to make expert riders out of their  guests in one week is not realistic. The goal should be as follows;

  1. Wranglers and counselors do everything they can to keep our guests safe.
  2. Guests have fun.
  3. By the end of the week each guest feels they have learned more about Western riding and have gained confidence in their riding ability.
Staff Training and Policies

  1. General Corral Procedures and Policies.
    1. All wranglers and counselors should be dressed in Western clothing when working with the horses and around the guests. Wranglers should wear blue jeans, western long sleeve shirts, cowboy hats and cowboy boots. Wranglers and counselors should be required to carry a pocket knife and/or a leatherman type tool whenever working around the horses.
    2. At the beginning of the season each wrangler should be given a first aid kit. The general manager and head wrangler should go over its contents and use. Each wrangler is responsible for replacing used items and keeping the kit ready for use at all times.
    3. No guest or employee of the ranch other than wranglers should be allowed to ride alone or with out a wrangler either on the ride or in the arena.
    4. During their off time wranglers are allowed to ride only with the permission of the head wrangler. The head wrangler decides which horses may be ridden. Employees riding on their time off must inform the head wrangler of where they are going and when they will be back.
    5. Any time anyone falls off a horse, whether they were injured or not, the employee or employees who were closest to the event should be required to fill out an accident report as soon as possible.
    6. All areas of the corral and barn are to be kept neat and clean every day, including tack put away properly, tack rooms cleaned, manure picked up, and bailing twine disposed off.
  2. Horse Corral Procedures.
    1. When any ride is being mounted or dismounted all gates must be closed and secured.
    2. As soon as a ride returns to the corral the tail wrangler must close the gate to the corral.
    3. A wrangler should  always hold the guests horses when getting on and off. Get the guests off quickly and tie up their horses quickly. Move the guests away from the tied up horses.
    4. All horses should be tied high and short when tied to the rails or to trees out on the trail. Every horse will be tied with one wrap around the rail and tied with a slip knot. Do not use multiple loops.
    5. When grooming and saddling, each wrangler must inspect the horses for any injuries, sores, chinch galls, loose or missing shoes and lameness.
    6. When grooming special attention should be paid to all areas where the saddle, pads, breast collar, and cinch touch the horse.
    7. Farriers are to be left alone to do the work they are being paid for. 
  3. Trail Ride Policies and Procedures.
    1. Every trail ride leader should carry a cell phone, in addition to their personal phone. Ranch phones and personal are to be used on the trail only for emergencies.
    2. On each ride the head wrangler should assign a leader of the ride. This is the person responsible for making decisions if there are any emergencies.
    3. Smoking is not permitted on any trail ride! This includes guests.
    4. The rule of thumb is 4 to 1, guests to wranglers.
  4. Wagon and Sleigh Rides
    1. Guests must sign the liability release form, if they have not already signed one for horseback riding.
    2. All sleigh/wagon rides should always have two employees working, with one driving and one on the back step.
    3. The person driving is in charge of the sleigh/wagon ride and should give instructions to other employees and guests.
    4. The driver is responsible for inspecting the harness and sleigh/wagon to make sure everything is in good and safe condition.
    5. Whenever the teams are hooked up and stopped there must always be an employee standing at the front holding the horses unless they are tied to a rail.
    6. The teams are not to start moving unless all the passengers are seated.
    7. If there are any problems during the ride, such as a horse falling down or a mechanical problem with the wagon/sleigh, it is the responsibility of the  shotgun rider to get all the guests off and safely away from the team.
Riding Program

1)      Every guest must sign a liability release form before riding.

a)      Kids 17 and under must wear a helmet unless their parents sign the refusal statement on the release form.

b)      Adults are not required to wear helmets but are to be encouraged to do so by our staff.

2)      Our riding program begins with our orientation speech and demonstration. All wranglers are required to learn and give the same speech.

a)      All guests must go through orientation regardless of age or experience.

b)      Each guest is assigned their own horse for the week, based on height, weight, age and experience.

c)      After the orientation speech guests are introduced to their horses, helped to mount by our wranglers and stirrups adjusted.

d)     Kids and adults ride together on orientation rides, with rides limited to 8 guests.

e)      Following the orientation speech the guests are lead to the arena to have additional instruction and practice controlling their horse.

f)       When the wranglers are comfortable with the guest’s ability to handle their horse they are then taken on an easy 1½ hour ride.

3)      Through out the week guests can choose rides ranging from 1 hour to all day, as well as arena rides, barrel racing, lessons, pole bending, games, cattle round-up, and team penning.

a)      The head wrangler should make suggestions to the guests for which rides the guests will like or are qualified for. Sometimes wranglers are required to tell the guests, “No it is not safe for you to go on that ride”.

b)      Kids 7 and older can go on all adult rides provided both the head wrangler and parents agree that they can handle the ride. If the parents suggest that they would like their child to go on a loping ride or long ride and the head wrangler feels they are not qualified he would then suggest another ride or a one-on-one lesson in the arena instead.

4)      For arena rides and team penning have specific horses that are good at these events.

a)      While the horse assigned to our guest might be a great trail horse he might not be good at the arena events such as barrel racing or team penning. So rather than have a bad experience on an unresponsive horse they can trade off for these activities.

b)      All guests should be encouraged to spend as much time as they would like in the arena with more one-on-one instruction.

5)      Trotting and loping rides are conducted with specific rules for safety.

a)      Before participating in loping rides each guest must be approved in the arena by the head wrangler. For some experienced guests this may only take a few minutes. Beginners need to spend as much time as needed for the head wrangler to feel comfortable with their ability to handle loping on the trail.

b)      Only the most experienced wranglers should be  allowed to take out loping rides.

c)      Within the trail system there should be designated areas for trotting and loping. All wranglers should be  aware of these areas.

d)     The wrangler leading the ride should stop the ride and talk to the guests about what they are about to do, tell them how far they are going, and hold up his hand when he is getting ready to stop.

e)      Wranglers should check cinches before loping.