The Best in Western Photography is here! Posted June 22, 2016
Western Photography Workshop
15% discount if you sign up by July 7!
The Vee Bar Guest Ranch is excited to announce the first annual Stoecklein Photography Workshop at the ranch September 23-26, 2016. Drew and Taylor Stoecklein are famous western photographers and experts in their field. The Vee Bar Guest Ranch is the perfect western location, with the Little Laramie River weaving its way through the property and the Snowy Range Mountains as the backdrop. Together the Vee Bar Guest Ranch and Stoecklein Photography are offering the best of the best!
The Vee Bar Guest Ranch, located in southeast Wyoming, 20 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, is a family-owned summer guest ranch and a winter bed and breakfast. The historic main lodge was built in 1891 as a stage coach stop. Now, there are a total of nine guest cabins in addition to rooms in the main lodge. Charming cabins with modern amenities provide guests with the comforts of home, and the babbling Little Laramie River waters provide the perfect nighttime lullaby. The main lodge serves as the dining room where guests enjoy delicious home-cooked meals. The John Wayne Saloon is a fully stocked bar with a pool table, board games, and cards. Guests enjoy other activities and amenities on the ranch including an outdoor hot tub, horseshoe pits, archery, trapshooting, horseback riding, fishing, and other seasonal activities.
Stoecklein Photography students will gain inspiration from Drew and Taylor Stoecklein to capture real-life cowboys and cowgirls in an authentic western setting. David Stoecklein’s fascination with the ranching heritage of the West led him to befriend, and subsequently photograph, the men and women still breathing life into the mythical figure of the cowboy. David’s passion for preserving the traditions and beliefs of the country’s honest, hard-working cowboys and cowgirls gradually earned him their respect. With that respect came an open invitation to share in their lives, and the great responsibility to honor their trust.
David has materialized the Spirit of the West for generations to come. He has preserved millions of images, produced many books, calendars, prints and cards. Now David’s sons, Drew and Taylor are proud to continue to share their father’s legacy. Drew Stoecklein chose a path that has led him around the globe on assignments for commercial and editorial clients, both as a cinematographer/photographer and as a sponsored athlete. Spending time behind the lens and also in front of the camera has given him a valuable perspective for capturing unique and eye-catching images. Drew’s first book, Seasons of the Steelhead, produced in 2011, received the coveted Best Book of the Year Award from the American Fly Fishing Trade Association. Drew’s biggest thrill is delivering unforgettable imagery to all of his clients.
Taylor Stoecklein grew up learning to love the ways of the western lifestyle. Having assisted his father on photo shoots from the age of 15, Taylor developed a passion for photography and capturing the American West through his own eyes. He combined his enthusiasm of the western way of life with his education by competing in rodeos throughout college while attending California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. Taylor then continued his education at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA where he truly refined his photography skills. Taylor now travels the country taking photos for major companies.
To learn more and sign up for the first annual Stoecklein Photography Workshop at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch, click here!
Retreat to the Vee Bar Guest Ranch! Posted March 14, 2014
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure-filled family vacation, the Vee Bar Guest Ranch has it all! The ranch’s location is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. With the Snowy Range Mountains at the doorstep, guests often take advantage of marked trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. During the summer months guests can also mountain bike and fish mountain lakes and streams.
In the winter, families travel to this area of the Snowy Range Mountains for downhill skiing at the Snowy Range Ski Area and snowmobiling on some of North America’s best trail systems. The Vee Bar Guest Ranch is often used as a base for such activities. At the end of a day full of fresh, crisp air, guests can relax in front of the wood-burning fireplace in the main lodge or soak in the outdoor hot tub.
Guests commonly dine at the ranch in the evenings. Dinners are served off a menu on Friday and Saturday nights and buffet menus are served other nights of the week. Chef Dale has been cooking at the Vee Bar for almost seven years, and he will make sure you don’t leave hungry!
During the summer guest ranch season, June–August, guests purchase an all-inclusive package. Although horseback riding is the main activity, there is plenty to do if you are not sure about riding! A six night package is the most common length of stay, and if guests are looking for some action-packed fun they will find it here! With that said, it should be mentioned that guests can do as much or as little as they like! There is something for everybody!
So, whether you are looking for a cozy cabin in the foothills or a summer vacation destination, the Vee Bar Guest Ranch has it! And, it’s waiting for you!
Ski Packages Are Back! Posted October 26, 2013
The Vee Bar Guest Ranch is partnering with Snowy Range Ski Area to offer guests an unbeatable deal! Packages include lodging at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch, a full, hot breakfast each day, and lift tickets at Snowy Range Ski Area. After a day of skiing, guests can come back to the Vee Bar for dinner. Dinner reservations must be made in advance, and they are served buffet-style, family-style, or off the menu, depending on the number of people and the night of the week. Guests will also enjoy the Wyoming night-sky from the outdoor hot tub. The John Wayne Saloon is open for guests to enjoy a game of billiards, cards, or other board games. To view ski package details, click here! It’s not too soon to think about your winter ski vacation! Opening day is November 29! Contact us now!
Fall and Winter Packages Announced! Posted September 13, 2012
For nearly 20 years the Cole Family has been hosting guests at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch. During the summer, the Vee Bar provides an adventure-packed all-inclusive stay. Three meals per day, lodging in luxurious cabins and riverside suites, horseback riding, riding lessons, guided hikes, fishing, wagon rides, trap shooting, and a cook out are a few things guests can experience at this Wyoming ranch. The summer guest ranch season lasts from the beginning of June and ends around Labor Day Weekend each year. However, the Vee Bar hosts guests all year! When the summer guest ranch season is over, the fall schedule begins! The University of Wyoming and many other private and state groups choose the Vee Bar as a site to host their annual conferences and meetings. Besides locals that come to the Vee Bar for meetings or dinners, there are a lot of people who travel to the area to see the fall colors and experience the great outdoors, whether it is for a lengthy vacation or a weekend getaway. Now the Vee Bar has options–packages–that will help guests get the most out of their vacation. The Escape Package is designed for guests who want to spend their time exploring the outdoors in a variety of ways. Horseback riding on the Vee Bar will allow guests to explore the high prairies flora and fauna. Meals will be served at the main lodge, or guests can take a sack lunch into the mountains to explore on their own. Guided hikes (or snowshoeing) in the Snowy Range Mountains will expose guests to higher mountain country. At the Vee Bar, guests can enjoy the outdoor hot tub, the John Wayne Saloon, horseshoe pits, a croquet set and other outdoor games, and miles of walking trails. The Winter Getaway Package is designed to also include ski area lift tickets, in addition to the activities listed above. For more details, see the sample schedule on our website.
Wildlife and Fall Colors at the Vee Bar Posted September 6, 2012
This is a beautiful time of the year at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch! While the grass is turning brown, the leaves turn a bright yellow. Our meadows near the river stay green through most of the fall providing a drastic contrast of colors. The river is low for this time of year, but the sound of the water babbling over the rocks continues.
The bears are coming down out of the mountains early this year–probably due to the dryness and lack of food. Just a couple weeks ago, a young bear began frequenting the Vee Bar. The thick plastic lids on the dump trailer were no match for the hungry bear. The latches held, but the bear bent the corner of the lid up so that it could reach it’s arm in and pull out treats. The next day, the bear had obviously sat on the lid and pushed it into the trailer and feasted on the ranch’s leftovers. After four visits to the dump trailer in one day, we decided that it was time to hide the dump trailer. Now the dump trailer is parked in the shop and the doors are chained shut. So far, the bear has not been able to get in.
Another regular resident each fall is a large bull moose. While moose can be very dangerous, he is quite a spectacle to see. He seems to tower over everything near him. He appears to saunter through the willows, but appearances can be deceiving. He is actually quite fast and agile!
Lots of white tail deer make the Vee Bar their home. In the fall they stay close to the river, making their way up and down the banks grazing. Fawns born this past spring graze out in the open with their mothers. A set of twins reside near the main lodge with with their mom, and both fawns still have their spots.
Antelope, jack rabbits, cottontail rabbits, skunks, foxes, coyotes, mink, river otters, beavers, Bald Eagles, hummingbirds, Magpies, and a variety of other birds are among other fauna to be spotted at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch.
A Day in the Life Posted August 31, 2012
Today guests woke up to sunny skies and warm, breezy weather. They rode to camp yesterday, doing some cattle work on the way. Upon arrival at camp, they feasted on barbecued brisket, corn bread, baked beans, and grilled vegetables. Brent played guitar and sang cowboy songs. Some spent the night under the stars, or in tipis. A few others came back to their comfortable cabins at the Vee Bar. Guests ate breakfast on the range before departing camp on their horses. They rode near the base of Centennial Ridge and had a beautiful morning view of the Centennial/Albany valley. A hearty lunch awaited guests and staff alike at the main lodge. Grilled asparagus, shepherds pie, potato wedges, and cookies were part of the menu. After lunch, everybody got to compete with their horses in the gymkhana. The youngest kids (ages seven and eight) were the loudest in the cheering section, but when it was their turn to go, they maneuvered their horses like pros! A popular Friday afternoon activity is to go river tubing–what better way is there to clean off the camping dirt? Tonight, in the John Wayne Saloon, a local band will entertain all of us with great dancing music. The Golden Horseshoe Awards, a Friday night tradition since 1995 when the Cole’s first opened the business as a guest ranch, are a fun event not to be missed!
Many Colors of Horses Posted April 6, 2012
Any person who has spent some time around horses knows how many different personalities a horse has. A good horse person has learned to watch for body language in their horse. A horses eyes and ears can speak volumes! The Vee Bar herd of horses is made up of about 35 unique, individual personalities. A person who takes the time to observe them in the meadows will see that they have a well-established pecking order. Size does not necessarily dictate dominance. Take Coco for instance. He’s one of the shortest, fattest horses in the herd and he’ll take a minute to boss any big horse around. Little does his young rider know, Coco spends most of his time subtly cutting other horses off when out on a ride. The wranglers on the rides can tell when an enemy horse is moving in on him–at a walk he’ll gradually start veering over to cut the horse off! Little kids riding Coco don’t even know that Coco is up to something. Then, take Waylon, our Belgian draft horse. He came into the herd a couple years ago. Although he was only about 12 at the time, he immediately buddied-up with the geriatric group of horses ranging in age from 17-25 years. He walks at their pace–slow and steady. Not much excites him and he seems all the wiser for it. The geriatric group, plus Waylon, spend their time in the meadows far from all the other horses. In the corral with the rest of the horses, they have their own corner where the younger horses leave them alone. Outside of that small space, they often get chased or picked on by others.
Then there are horses like Black Jack. This horse has so much personality that it bubbles right out of him! He is a very playful horse. Although we don’t know much about his history, he seems to be a Thoroughbred / draft horse cross. He is a tall, beautiful grey horse with a long, thick, shaggy mane and forelock. He likes riders who will let him run a bit faster so he can be at the front of the group. When tied at the hitching rail he busies himself by chewing on the end of the lead rope until he’s untied and freed himself. He has ruined many lead ropes this way. Many of the lead ropes have a nice green grass stain from Black Jack chewing on them. When he unties himself, he usually just stands in place and waits for somebody to tie him up again. Guests are not allowed to give him treats while tied to the rail because soon he’s trying to get in every pocket as it walks by! When in the corral, he picks up feed buckets, balls, wood, and whatever else he can get his teeth on and throws them around. If he’s lucky another horse will come to play with him and they will each grab a side of a rubber feed pan with their mouth and start pulling. Who knew horses could play tug-o-war!?
The “big dudes” are a group that have priority in the corral. They stand in the small bit of shade in the corral and three of them hang their head in the barn door to keep cool, and to keep flies off. It’s obvious that they get along because their three big heads take up the entire door and none of them care. Moose, Sam, and Charger have posed for many pictures, stood for many pats, and entertained many wranglers and guests, looking in on a days work in the barn.
While the “big dudes” are pampering themselves in the shade and hogging the attention, others, like Fritz, are like hidden gems in a forest. Every ranch has one (and probably only one) “perfect” horse. Anybody can ride him, he never spooks, he takes perfect care of the rider on his back, and is generally the safest horse a person could possibly ride. Fritz is the Vee Bar’s perfect horse. He is almost taken for granted because he never needs extra attention–he’s just there to happily do his job. Many riders on his back don’t even know how well-behaved Fritz really is. Sometimes people talk about horses and other pets that have special intuition. Fritz seems to know how good his rider is. With a six-year-old little girl he takes tiny steps and creeps up and down hills. With a young boy eager to cut loose, Fritz is one of the fastest in the group. He’ll run with his head held high and his tail blowing in the wind. The one thing Fritz really loves is to barrel race. In fact, when it comes to barrel-racing, he doesn’t really care who is on his back. With a young person who doesn’t want to go fast, the wranglers have to make sure Fritz starts at a slow pace; then he’ll finish at a slow pace. The rider doesn’t even really have to steer him, so even a six-year-old trotting the pattern could do much better than many of the adults. But, when somebody wants to win the barrel racing event at the gymkhana, all they need to do is give him one kick and he’ll run the pattern all by himself–and pretty fast, too!
The Vee Bar wranglers get to know each horse’s personality, and it is one of the most interesting parts of the job. Horses have a very intelligent mind and very different personalities. It’s no wonder guests establish such a close relationship with their horse while they are visiting the Vee Bar. Although the horses are at the ranch to do a job, the wranglers and horses end up taking on a role similar to a child with their parent. As a wrangler, you feel like you know the horses so well that you take pride in the work that they do and the riders that they satisfy. Likewise, it is a huge disappointment when they act up, act out of character, or develop bad habits when you know they know better! Often times, when potential clients call to learn about the Vee Bar, their questions revolve around the horses and the riding program. We take pride in our horses–their personalities, their condition, and their mentalities. We are able to offer a versatile riding program because we know our horses and we know how to find the right ones for our guests. We look forward to the day when you get to meet our herd! If you are interested in making a reservation, call our office at 800-483-3227 or visit our website www.veebar.com. See you on the trails!
The Vee Bar Herd–How Horses Are Selected Posted January 14, 2012
The Vee Bar horse herd is made up of a variety of breeds, colors, and ages. Unfortunately, there are few of which we know the entire history. About half of the horses that we currently own came from a lessor that the Vee Bar had used for a number of years. The horses came to us summer after summer, and every fall they returned to their home near Riverton, Wyoming. Some were only there for a couple weeks before they were shipped to their next job at a hunting camp. They were all well-cared for and seemed pretty youthful. The owner of this particular horse-lease company was diagnosed with cancer and chose to sell his herd. The Vee Bar had the first chance to buy all 15 horses that had been leased from him–a great deal for the Vee Bar–and we jumped on the opportunity!
Other horses that we currently own have been purchased from ranchers in Wyoming and Colorado. When shopping for a horse, we check in papers, Craigs List, and sometimes hear of horses from locals. When looking at ads, we have to first keep in mind that the person posting the ad may have very little horse experience themselves. If the ad says “well broke” that might not mean the horse is ready for a beginner rider. We take into consideration the age, the size, and the experience the horse has, not necessarily in that particular order. If we purchase a horse older than about 15 years of age, we want to be sure that the horse can be integrated into our herd and used right away, or else he probably wasn’t worth the purchase. As for experience, was he used in a show ring, or was he roped off of by a very experienced ranch hand? A horse may have been great for somebody that knows how to ride and rides often, but they could be a completely different horse for an inexperienced rider. The horse that the Vee Bar looks for is one that is calm and independent. He will leave another horse or the barn without getting panicked or stressed. He will walk, trot, and lope with out too much encouragement, or with out running away. Surprisingly to some, we don’t look for a horse with real special training. By ‘special training’ we mean techniques such as when the rider applies pressure with their leg to the horse’s side and the horse moves away. Or, the rider applies pressure with their heel to tell the horse to turn sharply on it’s haunches. This is because a beginner rider often doesn’t know when he or she is applying pressure and would then be accidentally cuing a horse to turn or move in a direction they don’t mean.
Once we integrate new horses into the herd, the wranglers ride them several times to see how they react to certain situations. An example might be when the horse lopes with a group of other horses, does he think he’s racing and take off to the front? Does he go into a lope so fast that he would throw an unsuspecting rider right off his back? Does the rider have to kick him into a lope so much that an inexperienced rider who is trying to hang on and kick at the same time would never get him into a lope? These questions are usually answered in the first few rides. If we have done a good job of picking a horse he’ll fall into our routine in the first week or two and be ready for guests by week two or three. One thing is for certain, and that is that the wranglers will gauge the type of rider the horse can be used for, always erring on the side of caution. After a few guests have ridden the horse the wranglers can almost exactly predict how the horse will react to certain cues from the rider, or what his favorite activities are, who he likes to ride next to, if he’s a leader or follower, and much more. Each of the horses at the Vee Bar has a very unique personality and noticeable likes and dislikes. More on that in another post!
Winter Riding at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch Posted December 14, 2011
The Vee Bar Guest Ranch will start offering horseback riding for winter enthusiasts after the New Year. Previously, the riding season has been May 1 to October 1. Now Brent, head wrangler at the Vee Bar, will be taking riders on a 45 minute ride through the Vee Bar meadows and along the river. Rides will be walking-rides only, but as is traditional at the Vee Bar, you will not be required to ride nose to tail. Reservations are needed in advance, and rides will be taken during the warmest part of the day, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Weather will be the wild card! Even the nicest days in Wyoming can be quite chilly. Actually, the Wyoming wind usually has more of a bite than the air temperature! Also, on the back of a horse you are not moving around very much to help keep yourself warm. Unfortunately, the boots that are safest to ride in are usually the coldest–at least the types that are affordable to buy if you are only going to wear them a few times. So, how do you prepare to stay warm? Dress in layers. Make sure that the outer layer of clothing is wind proof and water resistant. Wear long-johns and heavy jeans or thin snow pants. The trick with layers is that you don’t want to dress so bulky that you are like a walking marshmallow. You still want to be able to move safely on and around your horse. The bulkier your layers, the more restrictive they are. Find the right balance. The hardest parts to keep warm will be your hands and feet. Remember, you’ll be holding the reins in your hands and you want to be able to feel them and have control of them at all times. Thick, bulky gloves do not allow you to maneuver your reins, make quick adjustments, or feel them if they are sliding through your hands. Ideally you can wear a thinly insulated glove (not mitten) with a leather palm. This allows you to feel the reins and keep them from sliding through your fingers unexpectedly. A nice trick that horsemen and women have used for years is to utilize your horse’s body heat. If your hands get cold, your horse will feel warm to the touch. Plus, your horse will probably like the occasional pats!
To fit your feet with proper footwear in winter weather, you’ll most likely be trading comfort for safety. There are very few types of boots suitable for riding that are insulated and safe. And, unless you are going to be riding very frequently, you probably are not going to want to spend the money on a pair of insulated riding boots. At the Vee Bar Guest Ranch, we have a small stash of loaner boots (uninsulated). Be cautious about wearing two layers of socks. Too many socks will cramp your feet in your boots and restrict blood-flow, making them even colder. Either way, you want to be able to wiggle your toes in your boots–and do this often as you are riding. That is probably the single best way to keep toes warm. Boots are more of a piece of equipment for cowboys than for style. Good riding boots (cowboy boots) are made with a heel to stop a person’s foot from sliding too far through a stirrup and getting stuck. They also have a smooth sole that will slide out of the stirrup easily and fast if needed. Snow boots usually don’t have a heel and they usually have a thicker, rubber sole that can bind in the stirrup. This is a dangerous combination if something goes wrong while you are on horseback. Having your foot stuck in the stirrup is a situation that can be avoided with proper equipment. That’s why, when you come to horseback ride at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch, we require that you wear safe and proper footwear, even if your toes get cold!
We hope that you can take advantage of horseback riding at the Vee Bar. Riding may take you back to a simpler time; back to the days of “real” cowboys, expansive cattle ranches, and settlers who wanted to stake a claim in some of the west’s most beautiful country. Riding is a very unique way to see beautiful, untouched country. The horses at the Vee Bar are selected very carefully because of their easy-going nature and manners that are critical for a guest ranch operation–more specifically, the Vee Bar’s operation–to provide guests with hours of safe and enjoyable riding. More on that later… See you this winter!
What’s Happening This Fall? Posted August 17, 2011
In the next two weeks we are going to transition from our summer guest ranch season into our fall/winter bed and breakfast season. Starting Labor Day weekend we will be open nightly for bed and breakfast, and will be serving dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. With the University of Wyoming football season fast-approaching, we’ll be seeing a lot of football fans. During the weekdays in September several groups, mainly from Wyoming, have booked our location as a meeting place to hold their fall retreats and workshops. Space is limited in September, so if you don’t already have a reservation it would be a good idea to make it now!