Head to Texas and this small, family-run ranch which offers a Texas ranch experience for riders of all abilities. Your hosts are award-winning, international horse trainers specialising in natural horsemanship methods. With a maximum capacity of 5 guests at any time, this all-inclusive ranch stay offers a home-from-home atmosphere to guests. The basic programme includes round pen work, riding and tuition and there are special colt starting, building confidence and children's programmes as well. Experienced riders can assist with training colts and 'problem' horses, while nervous riders will be shown how natural horsemanship methods can help them ride with more confidence.
In February, the largest rodeo in the world takes place in nearby Houston, if visiting during this week you can attend the rodeo action and concerts in the NRG Stadium. The Texas Declaration of Independence was written and signed in Washington County, where the ranch is based, and the county is one of the greenest in Texas, making it ideal riding country for an authentic Texan experience.
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 SO of Philadelphia on 11/03/2020
Itineraries at this ranch can be specifically tailored to guests preferences. Mornings will usually be spend either riding or doing groundwork, learning the principles of natural horsemanship. After a home-cooked lunch, you can have a siesta until sightseeing or more riding in the afternoon. There are usually some problem horses, young or wild horses at the ranch to train and you can enjoy observing the training process in the afternoons and evenings.
Morning horsemanship lessons tend to start at 9.30am and afternoon lessons start at 4pm. Breakfast is 8:30-9am, lunch is around 1.30pm and dinner is around 7:30-8pm.
Basic programme: The courses focus on the relationship between horses and humans and covers basic groundwork, round pen techniques and the application of groundwork to riding.
Rodeo special (25 February to 4 March 2021): Combine a week-long stay with a visit to one of the largest rodeo in the world. It goes on for three weeks and each day is packed with live rodeo action and concerts in the stadium alongside more than 70,000 spectators. This is the biggest livestock show in the world and there is plenty of entertainment on offer from shopping to culinary contests and horse shows. You will get to spend a whole day at the rodeo and experience it for yourself! Please note that during this week there are only five riding days instead of six.
Colt Starting Special (11 to 20 February 2021): Colt starting clinic for people with previous horse experience. Participants will work with colts of different ages and at different stages of training and will learn about different techniques used to work with young horses.
Building confidence special (29 October to 5 November 2020; 6 to 13 May; 4 to 11 November 2021): This course is directed at riders and horse owners who have had bad experiences or have fear issues they would like to overcome. The goal of the clinic is to provide the participants with strategies to recover their self-confidence.
Ranch experience for kids (dates on request): Horsemanship courses and ranch vacation combined with additional activities for kids and teenagers or for the whole family. Kids learn how to improve their communication skills in order to establish a relationship based on trust and respect with the horse. They learn how to handle a horse in a safe and confident way on the ground and how these skills relate to riding.
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.
There are around 15 horses on the ranch, all of which are calm and gentle having been trained with natural horsemanship methods. Around 6-7 of them are used for guests riding and are mainly Quarter Horses, Quarter Ponies and Mustangs. The tack and style of riding is Western and you will be shown how to ride Western if you have not done so before.
Riders of all abilities are catered for at this ranch. This destination specialises in building riding confidence and is also a good choice for families with children who would like to start riding. More experienced riders who want to learn about the natural horsemanship method are also welcome and can help with the training of young and problem horse. Complete beginners can start off learning the basics of natural horsemanship through groundwork and roundpen techniques before riding out on the trails once confident.
The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The ranch has a great emphasis on making yourself at home and feeling like part of the family. Accommodation on the ranch is either in the main building with your hosts or in a guesthouse next door to the main building. There are 4 guest bedrooms, two with private bathrooms (in the guesthouse) and two with a shared bathroom (in the main house). These can be made up as four single rooms or the two double/twin rooms and two single. One of the double rooms can accommodate a family of three people (with three single beds). Rooms are allocated on a first come, first served basis. There is also a living room area where guests can relax or read a book.
The food cooked at the ranch is ranch-style: wholesome, homecooked and in abundance, perfect after a day working with horses! Fresh drinking water is on tap as well as tea and coffee. Alcohol is not provided but you can purchase your own to take along with you if you wish.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.
All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel. For more information, and to apply online please visit the following website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Electronic travel authorities once obtained will be valid for a period of two years, or the validity of the travellers passport (whichever is shorter). There is a $14 charge for this service (2015). Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely to be detained and sent home.
On 5 January 2004, the US Authorities introduced the US-VISIT Programme. This means that all those aged between 14 and 79 travelling to the US are now finger-scanned and digitally photographed on arrival at passport control.
There are British consulates at many locations in the US, please check with the Foreign Office website for your closest one. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0232/0233 or see www.fco.gov.uk
The climate of Houston is a humid subtropical climate. August normally ranks as the warmest month at 84.6 °F (29.2 °C) and January the coldest month at 53.1 °F (11.7 °C). The normal annual precipitation measures 49.77 inches (1,264 mm). Occasional severe weather for Houston mostly takes the form of flooding.
No specific health precautions are required for visits to the USA.
Medical treatment can be very expensive; there are no special arrangements for British visitors. The British Embassy and Consulates-General cannot assist with medical expenses.
Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is essential; at least $1,000,000 cover, which includes hospital treatment and medical evacuation to the UK, would be wise. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake including horse riding.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org
The voltage is 110V in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance. Check the voltage input required for mobile phone and digital/video cameras before leaving.
You will be able to charge batteries and cameras overnight. There is wifi available in the guest quarters at the ranch and hairdryers are provided for guests.
- Riding hat if wanted (there are hats available to borrow at the ranch but wearing one is not mandatory)
- jeans or jodhpurs for riding
- riding boots or boots with a low heel if you do not have riding boots
- long-sleeved t-shirts or blouses to protect against the sun
- mosquito repellant
- casual dress for outings and evenings
- comfortable footwear for sightseeing trips
- light jacket against wind and/or rain
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding. The ranch weeks operate Thursday to Thursday from January to May and from September to November.
2020: Rodeo Special; Sept 3, 10; Oct 1, 15; Nov 12, 26. Summer dates available upon request, please enquire.
2021: Basic Programme: 28 Jan; 4, 11, 25 Mar; 1, 15, 29 Apr; 2, 9, 30 Sep; 14, 21 Oct; 18 Nov. Colt Starting Special: 11 Feb; Rodeo Special: 25 Feb; Building Confidence Special: 6 May; 4 Nov.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,445|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||Ranch Experience for Kids||1,609|
|2020 - Colt Starting Special||10d/9n||9||double pp||2,265|
|2020 - Basic Programme + Rodeo||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,525|
|2020 - Building Confidence Special||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,445|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,635|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||Ranch Experience for Kids||1,819|
|2020 - Colt Starting Special||10d/9n||9||double pp||2,569|
|2020 - Basic Programme + Rodeo||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,729|
|2020 - Building Confidence Special||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,635|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,805|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||Ranch Experience for Kids||2,009|
|2020 - Colt Starting Special||10d/9n||9||double pp||2,835|
|2020 - Basic Programme + Rodeo||8d/7n||5||double pp||1,909|
|2020 - Building Confidence Special||8d/7n||6||double pp||1,805|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||double pp||17,915|
|2020 - Basic Programme||8d/7n||6||Ranch Experience for Kids||19,959|
|2020 - Colt Starting Special||10d/9n||9||double pp||28,149|
|2020 - Basic Programme + Rodeo||8d/7n||5||double pp||18,939|
|2020 - Building Confidence Special||8d/7n||6||double pp||17,915|
- Lone Star: A History Of Texas And The Texans by by T. Fehrenbach gives a fascinating and readable history of Texas, together with an insider's look at the people, politics, and events that have shaped Texas from the beginning right up to our days.
- Discovering Natural Horsemanship: A Beginner's Odyssey by Tom Moates. In this candid work, Moates shares the honest highs and lows of starting out learning natural horsemanship. He works hard to follow the ways of many well-known clinicians and shares his personal experiences attempting to implement them.
Take along a good book to read or perhaps take a hike in the surrounding countryside when you are not riding. Guests can be taken to visit various local sights such as the charming city of Brenham for a taste of old-town Texas; local Western stores and world-famous ice cream at Blue Bell Creameries.
Your host at this ranch, Juan, is originally from Spain and has been practising natural horsemanship techniques since the early nineties. He has been lucky to have the chance to learn from and work with horsemen such as Alfonso Aguilar, Buster McLaury, Mike Sears, Chris Cox, Martin Black and Craig Cameron and he keeps attending clinics regularly. In 2011 Juan was the first European trainer to participate in the Supreme Extreme Mustang Makeover in Fort Worth, Texas. In Texas, he collaborates with True Blue Animal Rescue. Juan regularly participates in fairs and events in the U.S. and Europe. In April 2013 and 2014 Juan participated in the Horsemen's Re-Union in Paso Robles, CA, where twenty of the best horsemen from different countries started forty colts in six days.
His book about Horsemanship has been published in Spanish and German and Juan presented it at Equitana in Germany in March 2015. Currently Juan is collaborating with the University of Vic and the University Autonoma of Barcelona in Spain. Apart from the work with colts and 'problem' horses, Juan focuses on helping riders to overcome bad experiences or ride with more confidence.
Juan manages the ranch together with his wife Ira, who is originally from Germany. She also assists Juan in the horse training and courses at the ranch. Ira started riding in Germany at the age of six and has been eager ever since to learn more about horse behavior and training. She has had the opportunity to learn with breeders and trainers in Germany, Spain, Idaho and Texas.
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: In 2015 3G 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. 4G is beginning to be available in cities. There are still a few rural areas which have no GSM reception but do 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.