Call to talk to them about their trail rides. These people LOVE what they do. They don’t with passion and compassion. I spoke at length with Jackson, one of the cowboys, to plan my family vacation visit with my kids, 7 and 9 years old. I felt very encouraged that everyone in the family would enjoy a day out with this group and their horses, especially since my kids have been taught that before they ride they must care for the horses. We live in Florida so we don’t get trails like Utah, but the bit we do get to ride, it’s important to me that my kids respect and care for a horse properly. This place does that....how they do it in a single visit, we will find out. I will add more to this review after we visit them for our day of learning, loving, and riding the horses. At $24-35 an hour, this is a great way to understand why horses have become the chosen friend for so many cowboys.
After experiencing the ranch, I thought I’d give a second review.it still stands true that these wranglers LOVE what they do. They LOVE and know their horses, and the landscape that you get to explore is wonderful! Plan to take a full lunch, LOTS of water, and not to eat a potty break except for before your trail ride. This is still a wrangler led excursion, mostly nose to tail with the freedom to trot and gallop in the areas where you can. You will spend a significant part of your day (our group of 9, 3 kids 6, 7, & 9 included took 3 hours for this preliminary to riding portion of the day - and yes, you pay per hour for this part too) just getting to know your horse, so be prepared to listen and stand a lot at the beginning.
First, you’ll listen about what they may hold - we did this at the gate before we went to where the horses hang out by the road. Then you go to where the horses are and listen more about them, then they are called by the wrangler to go in - they’ll run past you, have your camera ready.
Next, you’ll prepare to choose your horse “for the day” based on a wrangler’s descriptions of their personalities. Chris, one of the wranglers, loves these horses, you can tell. He knows their personalities individually and if you get the pleasure to have him tell you about them, listen carefully. Plan that the selecting process can take a while in larger groups because each person needs to select which horse they want and may need to reselect if someone else takes their first choice.
Then you’ll wait in a small grassy area with your horse so he or she can eat a little while others finish selecting their horses.
Once the selection process is done, you’ll brush your own horse (to show the horse you care) as you establish a relationship with the horse. This can be a very helpful time to bond with your horse if you let it.
After brushing your horse, you’ll get to go in the round to work with your horse. They explain and show you how to do this, but leave you to do it once you take your selected horse in. The wranglers are available to help, so you can ask, but expect that they will be more observant as to allow you the chance to learn this important part of helping your horse trust you (you’ll need it for this ride). This part was great, especially since I’ve never worked a horse before but done everything else. I loved that even though I didn’t know what I was doing I had already somewhat bonded with my horse during the brushing so he was ready to follow me around and quickly showed signs of trust (“licking lips and chewing” according to the wranglers). It was incredible to see this horse begin following me around the ring after just 10 minutes in there. This is the ONLY horse ride adventure that has ever offered this from my experience.
Now for the saddling of the horses, this takes a while. Eat!! Let the wranglers do this unless you really want to help, and drink plenty of water and use the restroom (a small dirty outhouse with a toilet that moves when sat on, but it works - washing hands may not be worth it since you’re about to get dusty and dirty from handling your horse and reins). Once your horse is saddled you can mount your horse to get accustomed to it and walk around the area as much as your horse with allow (they like to stay close to the wranglers and stay in the shade).
ASK FOR A SADDLE BAG. Take a full lunch, LOTS of water (1 liter per person per hour is recommended for hiking and this is essentially that except your horse is doing the walking). Treat this next portion of your day as a hiking day with a horse. A water backpack is great, or 2-3 large metal thermoses. I went through 3 large bottles with my husband and 2 kids in the 3 hours we were out (we expected only an hour because my daughter did end up riding with me in a 2 seater saddle).
If you plan to take pictures, have your camera in a holder necklace just in case you may drop it.
DO NOT where a ball cap. They fly off easily if you look up.
Wear jeans (no holes in them).
Wear a dust mask (bandana or other).
Now, or personal experience. We felt like communication about the trail ride could have been more clear. When we said a couple times about my 6 year old nephew and my 7 year old daughter not wanting to ride alone, they accommodated. We (my brother and I) also said we’ll take them out for about 30 minutes and see how they do, well....it doesn’t work that way. They take you on the trail and unless YOU TELL THEM you want to go back, they won’t take you. They’re leading the group on their adventure.
You will be nose to tail for most of the trip, but I’m the wider spaces, getting to know your horse but asking the wrangler how to get your horse to trot or saunter. Test out your “vehicle.” This will cause some bruised rear ends, but this is why this ride is so different from others. Enjoy it! You’ll walk through creeks, up and down hills, and see great landscape along the way.
This is a working ranch, and it’s not all clean. You’ll see old cars, old barns. Trash cans, dust and grime. It’s ok. Just enjoy the day.
Now for something amazing and disappointing all in one 6 hour day that we thought would be 3....
My 9 year old son went on a horse they said was like a baby sitter because she would look after her rider even if they felt nervous. That’s why my son chose her ( Ms. Kitty). She and he did great for the first have of the trek, but the second half she became stubborn and wouldn’t go with our group on the trail we chose - one is flatter and more direct to get back, the other more strenuous and narrow on the hillsides. She must have known she was too tired for that upper, strenuous trail because she refused even the pull of one of the 2 wranglers who travelled with us to go. She ended up taking my son with the smaller group that went on the lower, flatter trail. My son isn’t normally this independent, but he said he was good to go with that group on his own while the 7 of us went on the other trail - and we couldn’t see each other along the way except a small section. After about 30 minutes of up and down and narrow paths on the hillside, we were reaching the flatter section of the trail leading back to the ranch. I look up and see my son on a hill with 2 unridden horses (2 that came with us saddled and ready if my daughter and nephew decided to ride solo) and still riding Ms. Kitty. He was alone. Nowhere in sight was the other wrangler and his group. He was fine, came down a hill to get to us all on his own, but he was left alone. That’s NOT ok. At the time I assume the other wrangler sent him to us because the other lady he was taking back was having a panic attack from trauma with horses in the past, but I later came to find out that it was because Ms. Kitty wasn’t listening and brought my son off on his own and the wrangler didn’t do anything - not even a call to another wrangler for help.
My son is fine. I’m incredible proud of his independence especially since he has never ridden a horse on his own before. But I would be very aware that you’ll need to communicate with your wranglers very clearly and unapologetically if your kids or those who are recovering from horse trauma are coming with you.
This was a LONG day. It was a great adventure, definitely the best trail ride I’ve been on, but my family had mixed feelings about how long it took to get to the riding, the organization of the process, the communication of the wranglers for what to expect on the trail and during each step of the day, and why we pay to stand and listen to them about the horse and to brush them. In my opinion, your time clock for per hour should begin when you take the ring to work your horse. $24/hour adds up quickly - and it is cash only unless you do a friends and family payment through PayPal).
If you’re ready for a different type of horse back riding experience, go. Just be prepared.
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Zion Canyon Trl Rides Jacob's Ranch
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