Horses at the ranch
Horses and cowboys
Cowboy roping
Cooling off in the lake
Feeding the horses
Herding cattle
Horses in the lake
Horses on the ranch
On the horizon
Out on the prairie
Riding through the lake
View from the lodge
The lodge

On this equine vacation, horseback riders will be hosted by Italian brothers Ferdinando and Roberto, who head up this friendly Italian-American ranch in the north-east region of Wyoming. Nestled deep in the Black Hills, the livestock roam 30,000+ acres alongside a variety of local wildlife in picturesque surroundings varying from mountains, to clear streams and forests to canyons. As well as 2,000 black Angus cattle, there are 100 horses, so there is plenty to help out with during the summer months.

Guests are welcomed to the ranch between April and October. Horseback riders need to be of intermediate ability in order to help with the work and have a good level of fitness. Guests join in with the working routine of the ranch which includes activities like: cattle roundups, roping, branding, checking on calves, cattle drives, checking fences, bringing the horses into the corrals, or simply hanging out at the Old West style saloon which includes billiards and a football table. There is a comfortable guest lodge with 8 bedrooms, all with private bathrooms as well as a separate cabin, also with bathroom for guests that want more privacy.

There is a relaxed atmosphere at this ranch and guests can do as much or as little horseback riding as they want. Many of the horses at the ranch are homebred and you'll have the chance to try out a few before choosing your favourite. The hosts are extremely welcoming and one day each week take guests to see local sights such as the mysterious Devil's Tower as well as local rodeos. Guests are not be considered a tourist at this ranch, but a friend. Live a real ranch life experience during this holiday.

Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.

Review received from FV of Olympia on 11/07/2024

Ride Summary
This was a wonderful holiday. I was especially impressed with the professionalism and coordination provided by Unicorn Trails.
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
The details that Unicorn Trails provided were clear, understandable, and accurate.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
5
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The riding was beautiful, and the terrain rugged in parts. I am very comfortable trail riding in the western United States (including packing out for multi-day rides), so I thought the pace of these rides was quite easy and suitable for a wide variety of abilities.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

The ranch is very flexible and the days itinerary depends on the guests wishes. There is riding 6 days out of 7. One day a week there are excursions into the local area instead of riding. This could be a visit to Devils Tower which is a few miles from the ranch, the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Badlands or Deadwood depending on the time of year. These guided excursions are included, but meals while not at the ranch are not included. When possible, the hosts are also happy to take guests to attend rodeos and horse auctions.

Sample Itinerary

The day begins with an extensive buffet breakfast including coffee, fruit, yogurt, cereal, ham, cheese, cookies, eggs, bacon and so on.  Around the table the cowboys will explain the plan for the day and answer any rider's questions before it's time to go and meet the horses. The cowboys will gather the horses from the pasture into the corrals and be assigned to the riders.

During the trip there is chance to try several horses and find a favourite. Ride for 3-4 hours in the morning, returning to the ranch for lunch, and ride again in the afternoon for another 3-4 hours. When no cattle work is necessary, just ride for fun, enjoying the beautiful landscape through canyons, forests and endless prairies. In the evenings, eat dinner all together in the lodge dining room, or maybe a barbecue outside if the weather is good. Relax in the saloon, have a game of pool or foosball. Accommodation is at the ranch in a purpose-built lodge.

Cattle Work

April-June:
Calving Season. Join the cowboys, riding out to the herd to check on the babies every day to make sure that they are ok. 
At the end of calving season there is a branding which is still completed like in the 'old west: horses, ropes, sweat and dust.

July-August:
Join the cowboys in managing the pasture moving 1200 cattle to different areas. The cowboy will explain the techniqus used for the cattle drive.

August-October:
This is round-up season where the hosts will be deciding which cattle to keep on for the winter and which to sell. The cattle that are kept need to be moved to winter pastures. This is a full-on period of ranch work and riders can expect to be in the saddle all day.

When there is time, riders can go into arena and practice:

  • team penning
  • breakaway roping
  • barrel racing
  • cutting horse

Alternatively you can spend a day relaxing on the shores of the beautiful lake that gives the ranch its name.

Please note -  A copy of your medical cover for injuries for activities on horseback for the duration of your stay at the ranch will be required at check-in (not just medical insurance)

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

The ranch has 35-40 saddle horses between 3 and 15 years old for every level of rider from beginner to advanced. Most of the horses are Quarters with a few Paints and Mustangs, all with great cow-sense. The ranch has an exceptional Registered Quarter Horses breeding programme, of which they are very proud. Most of the horses are raised and trained by the ranch cowboys, ensuring that all the horses are trustworthy. From April to October the cowboys begin the training of the 2/3 years old that will become the new saddle horses of the ranch.



During the holiday every guest will have the chance to try several horses and find which ones they prefer. Ride for 3-4 hours in the morning setting off around 8.30am and returning for lunch at around noon. Once fully sated and rested, saddle up again around 3pm and ride for another 3-4 hours. When no cattle work is necessary, just ride for fun, enjoying the beautiful landscape and exploring the canyons, forests and endless prairies. Riders are not required to wear a hard hat at the ranch, although under 16's do need to wear one, along with a body protector. If wishingt to wear a hard hat please bring your own as these are not supplied by the ranch.



Cattle Work



April-June: Calving season -  Ride to the herd to check on the new calves every day to be sure that they are ok. At the end of calving season there is a few days of branding which is still done in the traditional way with horses, ropes, sweat and dust.



July-August 

During this time the cowboys job is to manage the pasture by moving the 1200 herd of cattle. Prior to joining the cattle drive, the techniques used will be fully explained.



August-October 

This is round-up season where the hosts will be deciding which cattle to keep on for the winter and which to sell. The cattle that are kept need to be moved to winter pastures. This is a full-on period of ranch work and riders will be in the saddle all day.



Throughout the season, riders are always welcome to go into the arena and practice:




  • team penning

  • breakaway roping

  • barrel racing

  • cutting horse



Alternatively you can spend a day relaxing on the shores of the beautiful lake that gives the ranch its name.


Rider requirements

Riders must be of intermediate ability in order to help with the cattle work and have a good level of fitness, although no previous knowledge of western riding is required. The work carried out depends entirely on the time of year and what needs to be done. Riding hats are not required to be worn unless riders are under 18. If guests want to wear a riding hat they will need to bring their own as these are not supplied by the ranch.

Rider participation with the catching, grooming and saddling is not required but is very welcome. The riding schedule is flexible but they ride every day or 6 out of 7 days, if the weather allows (rain or snow is not a problem but thunderstorms or hail might be). Riding is not nose to tail and riders are given a lot of freedom. Some rides involve cattle work, some are trail rides.
The minimum age on the ranch is 10 years old and they must pass a riding assessment. Under 18's will have to ride with a parent or guardian.

The maximum weight limit is 110 kilos.

Children must be accompanied on all ranch activities and wear a riding hat and body protector whilst riding. These are not supplied by the ranch.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is provided in the purpose-built lodges that have eight bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Rooms can be twin, single (for a 20% surcharge) or double. There is also a stand alone cabin which sleeps two with a private bathroom for couples that would like more privacy. The entire lodge is built completely out of wood and all rooms are very comfortable. Bedding, towels and hairdryers are all provided.



Meals are served in the dining room at the lodge and are primarily Italian-American cuisine served buffet-style. A typical breakfast could be juice, milk, coffee, tea, bread/toast, cured meats, cheeses, bacon, sausages, eggs, fruit and yogurt. Lunch might be a home-made lasagna with salads. Suppers will include meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, with vegetables, bread, salads and potatoes/rice/pastas and dessert, drinks.



Drinks like lemonade, coffee, tea, juice and milk are included. Canned drinks (Coke etc.) and alcoholic drinks are not included. Guests are welcome to purchase these in the ranch's bar. Vegetarians can be accommodated although vegans cannot. In good weather, barbecues are often held outside for dinner.



Children under the ge of 10-years stay free when sharing a room with their parents.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need.

You should be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on or after 1 March 2011, you are normally not eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa.

Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/united-states

Climate Summary

April, May and the beginning of June can be still cool, rainy and sometimes even snowy (it can be warm and sunny as well but it won’t be hot). Later June, July and August are hot with little precipitation (thunderstorms in the evening, nights are cooler). September is usually still warm but there may be some rain. October: anything is possible, some years it snows a lot, other years it's a perfect Indian summer.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

BE AWARE: There are restrictions and prohibitions on the import of certain prescription drugs into the US. The USA Food and Drug Administration website contains further information and advice on bringing medicines into the USA.

Medical treatment is expensive and there are no special arrangements for British visitors. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

You should take suitable steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and ticks. There are occasional outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases.

Health authorities have classified the USA as having a risk of Zika virus transmission in Florida and a few parts of Texas

You can contact the emergency services by calling 911.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in the USA and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Health (ride specific)

There are no specific health requirements although do remember sun block. There are not many midges but if you are sensitive, take protection. Please note -  A copy of your medical cover for injuries for activities on horseback for the duration of your stay at the ranch will be required at check-in (not just medical insurance)

Electricity

In the USA the supply voltage is 120V. If the appliance or its power supply are not dual voltage rated, the single voltage appliance will have to be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly (unless the appliance operates at 120V).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

There is electricity available each night in the lodge to recharge camera batteries etc. There is limited mobile phone reception but there is wifi in the guest lodge. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

- Riding Helmet – We strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384
- Gloves
- Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers (jeans may rub and can also be quite hot)
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
- Body protector - compulsory for children, not supplied by the ranch
- Jacket - wind proof
- Long sleeved shirts
- Casual dinner wear
- Short sleeved shirts or T shirts
- Sweater or fleece
- Trainers or soft shoes for evenings
- Rain gear (no ponchos)
- Swimming costume for the lake
- Sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Refillable Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
- Plug-in adapters

Provided by hosts
The ranch supplies bedding, towels and a hair dryer.

Programmes

The ranch is open from April to October and there is a 3 night minimum stay. We recommend a stay of 7 nights.

10% discount for second week.

Departure Dates

2024: 20 April to 31 October - Wednesday or Saturday arrival.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6double pp1,665
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6single supplement335
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Double pp Per night285
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Single Supplement Per night58
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6double pp1,985
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6single supplement399
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Double pp Per night339
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Single Supplement Per night68
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6double pp2,169
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6single supplement435
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Double pp Per night389
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Single Supplement Per night78
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6double pp22,819
2024 - Weekly8d/7n6single supplement4,565
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Double pp Per night3,965
2024 - Per Night (less than 7n)per night1Single Supplement Per night795
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightdouble pp239
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightsingle supplement48
  No of days/nights Product item description
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightdouble pp285
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightsingle supplement57
  No of days/nights Product item description US $
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightdouble pp309
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightsingle supplement62
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightdouble pp3,259
2024 Extra night & riding 7n+per nightsingle supplement655
Recommended Reading

E. Annie Proulx’s three books of Wyoming short stories (“Close Range”, “Bad Dirt”, “Fine just the way it is”)

Mary O’Hara’s “Flicka” triology.

The Virginian” by Owen Wister (a classic one) and

Zane Grey’s Western novels.

C.J. Box (i.e. “Open Season”) and

Craig Johnson (i.e. “The Cold Dish”).

Cowboy poet Baxter Black 

“Where Rivers change Direction”, a memoir by Mark Spragg about life on an early dude ranch.

Where the Rivers Run North” by Sam Morton, a historical novel.

“The Meadow” by James Galwin.

Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by by T. Fehrenbach 

Discovering Natural Horsemanship: A Beginner's Odyssey by Tom Moates.

.Monty Roberts books, particularly ‘The Horse Whisperer’

Notes From A Big Country by Bill Bryson and

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck.

For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com 

Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


Other Activities

As well as riding, you can hike and watch the abundant wildlife or relax by the beautiful lake that gives the ranch its name. Once a week, the ranch organises excursions for guests to local sights such as Devils Tower, an ancient volcanic vent which was exposed by millions of years of erosion and is the setting of many movies and a holy place for the Lakota Indians.

The old gold digger town of Deadwood and the famous presidential heads of Mount Rushmore can be reached in two hours or less. When time and the season allow, you can visit rodeos and horse auctions with your hosts.

If you want to combine a ranch vacation with travelling though the Wild West, you should plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park in Western Wyoming, the Badlands in South Dakota or the battlefield on the Little Big Horn where in the 19th century General Custer and Chief Sitting Bull fought one last big battle.

Wildlife

Wild animals like deer, antelope, bobcats, porcupines, skunks, raccoons, prairie dogs, turkeys, eagles, beavers, coyotes, snakes, mountain lions may all be spotted.

Other Information

Suggested gratuity 10%

Other Country Information

The USA has 4 main times zones - Eastern Standard Time (EST), Central Standard Time (CST), Mountain Standard Time (MST) and Pacific Standard Time (PST). Vermont is on EST, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah are all on MST, California is on PST. Weights and measures are imperial although weight is always expressed in pounds, not stone. The US gallon is 3.8 litres in contrast to an imperial gallon which is 4.2 litres. Mobile telephone: 4G and 5G is widely available throughout the US in cities, towns, villages and along main highways with AT&T having the best overall coverage and T-mobile offering better speeds in cities. There is NO cell reception at the ranch, but there is WiFi in our saloon and office. There are still a few rural areas which have the older CDMA telephone networks. To be able to call from these areas we recommend buying a cheap Verizon phone from eg Walmart (from $13) and topping up with credit. Almost all hotels and airports offer free wifi connection.


Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Rapid City Airport (RAP) or ranch.
Transfer:
2024: Transfers are included for weekly stays if arriving/departing on a Wednesday or a Saturday (arrivals 3pm-8pm; departures 10am-3pm).
Outside of those times or for stays of less than a week, transfers can be arranged for $250 each way in 2024 (upon request made in advance with the ranch - subject to change)
Car rental or airport shuttle service is also an option.
Flight Guide:
London to Rapid City from £1125pp return
Riders who booked this ride also considered
USA Arizona, Tucson Ranch
USA, Arizona, Tucson Ranch

This equestrian vacation is based at an all-round cattle ...Read more >

from US $259
Riding on the prairie
Canada, Prairie Working Ranch Stay

This relaxed equestrian guest / cattle Read more >

from US $229
Taking part in a cattle drive
Canada, Coast Mountains Ranch Stay

Experience Canada's wild-west on this working guest r...Read more >

from US $1,665