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!