13.05.2012 - 20.05.2012
Finally time to go to the White Stallion Ranch! It was actually the ranch week that led up to this whole road trip, even though we visited the ranch the very last week of our trip.
The white transfer car showed up at our hotel and from Tucson it took about 40 minutes to get to the White Stallion Ranch. It was out in the middle of nowhere among all the Saguaro Cactuses, and upon arrival the sun shined and there was a clear-blue sky. The thermometer showed both Fahrenheit and Celsius and today it was +37° Centigrade outside! At that time we started to think about what we have gotten ourselves into… would we even be able to ride in this heat? They told us later though the entire spring that year had been unusually warm here in Tucson and that it normally isn’t that hot in Tucson in May. We met our wrangler Michael (brother of Russell who owns the ranch) who showed us the reception so we could register our arrival. We had our room up-graded (for free) to a Deluxe Double since the ranch had very few guests this week. Thumbs up! But the room wasn’t cleaned yet so we sat down in the shadow under a tree and waited for lunch to be served. The lunch was a huge buffet and you could eat all you wanted.
After lunch we got our room keys and our bags had already been carried away to the room. We unpacked a little and brought our cameras and walked around on the ranch and took photos. But after a while it got too hot out in the sun so we went back to our room and had a siesta.
Every Sunday all the horses on White Stallion Ranch have a rest-day. Then all the guests have to do something else. We spent the day in the activity room where they had table tennis, pool table, poker table, air-hockey and fussball. We also tried to turn on the TV in the movie salon, but the remote didn’t seem to work. Outside they had a court for basketball and one for tennis. They also had a net for badminton to put up if someone wanted to play. Even though I’m a badminton fan I didn’t feel like playing in the heat. They also had a gift shop on the ranch but it was closed due to celebration of Mothers Day. I wanted to buy my own cowboy hat but I had to wait until the next day. The ranch had cowboy hats you could borrow (for free) but I felt I wanted my own! The ranch had a little house they called Telegraph Station which had free internet access that all guests could use to communicate with the rest of the world.
Every day at 6 pm they had Happy Hour in the ranch bar for one hour until dinner was served at 7 pm. Even though we had paid for All Inclusive the drinks wasn’t included. They put the drinks on a tab on your room number which you pay the last day before you leave. During dinner Russell the ranch owner socialized with us guests. That was nice!
Every evening At 8 pm it was time for evening activities like Line Dance. I was a little skeptical towards the dancing thing but I participated just because… But boy was it fun or what?! I don’t regret it for a second. I don’t remember how many dances we tried out, but the number of participants decreased for each dance during the evening. I should add that the evening temperature was +26° Centigrade. In the end we were only 4-5 people left (and I was one of them) and we started off with 15 people. Later that evening a well-needed shower and bedtime. Other evening activities were star gazing with telescope, painting and also a reptile, spider and lizard show (that evening I held a safe distance I could tell you ). One evening a cowboy singer came and sang by the campfire… only thing was that the campfire went out and no one could lit it again. Bummer. But he played his guitar and sang for us in the darkness under a clear starlit sky anyway. That was actually kind of cozy too once your eyes had adapted to the dark. Still today I claim him to be the best cowboy singer I have ever heard. I still get goose bumps when thinking about his performance.
On the first day of riding as a new guest at White Stallion Ranch you start with participating in a Slow Ride, which means 75 minutes of walking out on the domains. You must participate on that ride so you can feel if you and the chosen horse get along but also so the staff could evaluate your riding skills. Apparently people tend to overrate their riding skills and therefore are paired up with the wrong horse. My horse during the week was T-Bone, a 12 year old gelded Painted Quarter Horse. I loved T-Bone from the beginning and you would really have to look for a more obedient horse than him! I wanted to pack him down in my suitcase and bring him back home with me
Each day (except Sundays) you could choose from several rides to participate in. Slow Ride and Fast Ride were optional every day. Some days you could start with a Breakfast Ride where you ride off and eat breakfast out on the domains among the cactuses. Other days had Slow or Fast Mountain Rides and some days even Half or Full Day Rides were available. During each ride we brought water bottles in our saddlebags… and that was really necessarily in that heat I can tell you. Team Penning was also a frequent activity where you compete in teams of 4 riders. One in the team is suppose to separate three calves out of the herd and together with the 3 other team riders herd those three calves into a pen in the shortest matter of time.
T-Bone and I participated in most of the activities and rides but not a Full Day Ride. It was too hot for that! And Team Penning was super fun because it involved some thinking and other animals with their own free will. I could tell T-Bone liked Team Penning too, because when it was my turn to separate the three calves he got super excited and energetic. So fun!
On Saturday they taught Roping lessons. We decided early during the week that we would try that out. Said and done, we stood there and practiced over and over again. I got a grip of it pretty fast due to my strong wrists from playing badminton. Saturday finished off with a Rodeo where all the wranglers participated and showed off their skills. Some of the horses and riders came from other ranches to show some of the games. All of us guests sat on the gallery with our cameras taking photos and filming the show. Nearby the gallery we could spot tiny little squirrels (Round Tailed Ground Squirrels) that reminded a little of small meerkats as they stood on their hind legs – just sooooo cute!
General about the ranch week…
They had great and healthy horses for both experienced and inexperienced riders. Unfortunately it was too warm during our visit but as I mentioned earlier it was an unusually warm month that year in Tucson. What surprised me the most was that the horses had no fear of small animals running underneath them during the rides. We also saw a rabbit and four deer but the horses didn’t care at all. I guess that the horses are used to that.