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Posted on June 28, 2021
As we head into the British summer and turn the page of our In The Saddle calendar to July, we see a group riding off into the Big Horn Mountains.
This picture was taken at The Hideout Ranch in Shell Valley, Wyoming. This popular family-run working cattle ranch features fantastic riding, incredible scenery and luxury accommodation.
One highlight of a stay at The Hideout are the horses – they are a mixture of Quarter Horses, Paints and Mustangs. With over 130 to choose from, you’re sure to find a perfect equine partner, whether you like an experienced and steady horse, or something more lively.
The Hideout uses natural horsemanship techniques to train their herd. The horses are only ever handled in a gentle and calm manner, which keeps stress levels to a minimum. This results in reliable, confident and willing horses, that are perfect for ranch life.
Quarter Horses and Paints make up the majority of The Hideout’s herd. But for the last few years, the ranch’s Mustang and Wild Horse Centre has added more Mustangs to the string. There are now about 30 Mustangs at the ranch.
Mustangs are free-roaming horses from the American West, descended from horses brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Whilst their roots lie in these Spanish horses, over time other breeds and types have contributed to the modern Mustang we see today.
Mustangs descend from horses that were once domesticated, so strictly speaking they are feral rather than wild.
In the 1970’s the US Congress recognised free-roaming horses as ‘living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West’. This led to the free-roaming horse population coming under the management and protection of the Bureau of Land Management.
The Bureau of Land Management aims to protect and manage ‘wild’ horses in 177 herd management areas across 26.9 million acres of public lands. It works to place a number of animals into private care through its Adoption and Sales Programmes, as well as partnerships with organisations across the country.
Mustangs are known for their sure-footedness, strength, intelligence and endurance. With kindness and patience, they can become used to human contact and then trained for a variety of jobs.
Taking on a ‘wild’ Mustang may be challenging, but it is often a really rewarding process. It’s also a unique chance to adopt and care for a part of America’s national heritage.
Some of the ranch’s Mustangs have come through the Extreme Mustang Makeover. Others through the Bureau of Land Management programme of Nick and Steve Mantle and some arrive via the Inmate Programme where prisoners work with Mustangs for therapy.
Over the years, The Hideout’s wranglers have honed their skills in handling and working with these beautiful animals. The number of Mustangs in today’s herd is testament to their success.
Before they start their ridden training, the horses are given plenty of time to settle in. Gentle relationship-based natural horsemanship methods are used to bring the horses on. In time, the Mustangs are ready to become guest horses. Having gone from free-roaming animals, to ranch horses, the Mustangs are best suited to calm intermediate and advanced riders.
In the Spring and Autumn months, more advanced riders can head off into the McCullough Peaks Herd Management Area, where the McCullough Peaks Mustangs roam the plains.
To keep outside interference to a minimum the wranglers will ensure you stay at least 500 feet away from the herd. Even from a distance, it is a real treat to catch sight of these incredible animals.
With their wild past, good looks and intelligence, it’s easy to see why guests enjoy their Mustang holiday horses. Some love them so much that they decide to adopt a Mustang themselves.
As a result, several Mustangs have passed through The Hideout on their way to Europe. They get used to human contact by spending 12 months at the ranch. Then they go through basic training, before boarding the plane and travelling to their new lives.
Can you imagine adopting your very own Mustang?
If you’d like the chance to ride a Mustang in its native land, then do get in touch for more information on The Hideout.
You can call us on 01299 272 997 or email email@example.com for more details.