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 EW of Santa Rosa on 19/09/2017
As an ‘open range riding’ holiday, there is no set itinerary for this holiday and plenty of saddle time. Each day is taken as it comes, with guests and guides deciding together where they want to go and for how long. Your hosts and guides were born and raised in Wyoming, having been fully immersed in the West, Wyoming and the back country all of their lives they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the adventure. Breakfast will usually be between 7:30 and 8:00 to allow riders to be in the saddle by 9:00. Pick a direction and ride!
Ride for 2-3 hours amongst the incredible scenery, with short breaks when needed, before stopping for lunch wherever is convenient. The horses get a break and enjoy some grass for an hour while you eat. Another 2-3 hours in the saddle will bring you back to base camp along the Little Sandy River in time for cocktails and hors de’ oeuvres!
Potential destinations on your daily ride include trekking to the top of Prospect Mountain or to its sister peak Little Prospect. Some days will be spent traversing the rolling sagebrush plains and high desert plateaus where more experienced riders will be able to enjoy some faster riding. There is also the option to load the horses into a trailer to explore the land a little further away from the camp, particularly when going to see the wild mustangs.
A favourite phrase from camp is 'Less is More', meaning that everyone at camp will have what they need to sleep comfortably, eat well, to relax and enjoy the wilderness experience without the distractions of the internet, mobile phones and other activities.
Throughout the season the following ride options are available:
Girls Ride Out: A women’s only holiday for the cowgirl at heart. Forget the stresses of daily life and join like-minded women to ride, chat and enjoy the prairies of Wyoming.
Mixed Rides: These dates are open to all adults looking for something purer than the typical dude ranch and can be customised according to the skills and interests of the group. Separate weeks are open to experienced riders from novice or intermediate so that each person in a group is with other riders at a similar level.
Fall Colour Ride: Run in conjunction with the Mixed Rides, this is a more relaxed ride compared to the other weeks, although still full of active riding. Most locals consider mid-September to be the best time to enjoy Wyoming as the autumnal colours transform the wilderness into a blaze of reds, oranges and golden yellows before the temperatures really drop. Much of the local wildlife is active at this time of year with regular sightings of elk, deer, moose, pronghorn, eagles, hawks and waterfowl as they prepare for winter.
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 over 20 horses available, most of which have been ranch-raised, allowing each rider to be matched up with a suitable mount. Most are Quarter Horses or Quarter Horse/Draft crosses with some Mustangs mixing up the herd. Sizes range from 13hh to 16.2hh.
The horses are responsive, sure-footed and well trained. They are gentle, intelligent and active, making them perfect for the faster paced riding in rough country for more experienced riders, yet still suitable for novice riders that need a bit more looking after. This holiday is all about the riding and the horses with the philosophy being to learn how to partner with your horse.
All horses are ridden in signature "Double Wade" saddles which have been designed by your hosts. A main feature of these saddles is that they are much lighter and more comfortable than traditional Western saddles, helping both the horse and the rider alike. They also have a closer contact with the horse and are particularly well-designed for women as they are slightly narrower across the seat with the pommel built up to offer a little more security and comfort.
Your hosts have practiced and promoted a "native horse" philosophy, which is used continuously in the year round horse operation. It provides a safe and effective environment for both humans and horses. This philosophy is a blending of the horsemanship methods of Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman, as well as a good sprinkling of open range cowboy practices. This style of horsemanship creates a well-mannered, safe, willing and enjoyable trail and ranch horse and a willing and effective human riding partner.
This ride has been designed as an active holiday for people who want to get some faster riding in the open plains rather than ‘nose-to-tail’ trail riding. Novices can be accommodated on set weeks; please continue reading for more details.
Riders will need to be in good physical and mental condition and lead an active lifestyle to fully experience this riding holiday. Each day will involve up to 6 hours of riding with prolonged periods of trot and some cantering in open spaces. Riders must have good upper body, core and leg strength and balance, being in control of body movements while mounted. The minimum age for riders is 16 years; anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Rider weight will be considered alongside body proportions to assess their suitability for the rides. Generally, women 5’5” or less should weigh no more than 72.5kg/12.5 stone/160 pounds. Taller women have more leeway up to about 85.5kg/13.5 stone/175 pounds. Men 5’7” or less should weigh no more than 90kg/14 stone/180 pounds or 115kg/18 stone/230 if they are taller. These figures are a guide based on average body proportions. Please call us to discuss your suitability for the ride if you are outside of these parameters.
Wherever possible, riding weeks are split up according to riding ability.
Experienced: Riders should be at or near their ideal weight, physically fit and active. You should have good overall body strength and control, and participate in regular exercise such as yoga, strength training, hiking and bicycling. You should be a regular rider with experience outside of an arena for extended periods of time and not afraid to get dirty and sweaty! Riders should understand the principles and make use of an ‘independent seat’ and be balanced in rising (posting) trot and transitions. You should be able to groom and tack up a horse without assistance.
Intermediate/Strong Novice: Riders may be a little overweight or not have good stamina but have a passion for horses, riding and experiencing the world. You should have some experience of horse riding even if it has purely been in an arena or in the months leading up to your holiday. Riders should know how to groom and tack up a horse although supervision and assistance can be provided if necessary. You should be willing to learn and improve skills including the concepts and practice of the ‘independent seat’ and rising trot. Novices are welcome provided we are fully aware of their abilities beforehand!
It is important that we have an accurate impression of your fitness and riding ability before booking you on to a ride. Persons who are not physically capable of keeping up and riding correctly hold the rest of the group back and can be potentially dangerous for every rider, horse and the staff. If you are assessed as not complying with the group standards or physical requirements then you may not be allowed to ride. Being overweight by even 20 pounds will make it more difficult for you to ride and can cause injury to the horses. If you have any medical problems or physical limitations please discuss these with us before you book a ride.
The weight limit for this ride is 16 st/230 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Throughout the week you will be staying at a base camp alongside the Little Sandy River which has all the necessities while maintaining the ‘wild’ feel of the surrounding plains. Accommodation is in individual canvas tipi tents (measuring 10'X10') with a put-up bed, comfy mattress and a warm sleeping bag – larger tents are available for couples who would like to share. The tents have zippered doors and vinyl floor to make them ‘critter proof’.
There is a private shower tent with solar heated water (from the creek) for warm showers after a good days ride, or guests can take a dip in the clear river waters to cool off. The toilets are housed in private tipi's with 2 or 3 placed around the camp. The toilet is a box or container with the bottom cut out and a regular toilet seat is attached to the top. The complete assembly is placed over a deep hole. Supplies are available in the tent such as tissues, baby wipes, hand sanitizer and a box of laundry detergent which is used to keep everything fresh and odour-free. Very simple, clean and environmentally-friendly! Each unit is moved weekly.
One of the motto's in camp is "We eat, we drink, we laugh and we RIDE". It is often remarked that guides and guests alike always seem to be eating and the goal is to serve healthy home-cooked feasts. All food is prepared on-site in a dutch oven and served in the lounge/dining tent.
Menus can include organic grass-fed buffalo, wild salmon, grilled chicken, crisp salads, fresh fruit, natural cereals, yoghurt, vegetables, pasta, homemade biscuits and breads and freshly made desserts for those who still have room! Hors d’oeuvres are served in the afternoons after the horses have been taken care of, alongside ‘cocktail hour’ as guests relax after the days' ride (alcohol must be purchased before arriving at the camp).
It is important to drink a lot of water because the area is very dry and at higher altitudes it helps alleviate altitude illness. Only water is taken on the rides everyday but tea, coffee and breakfast juice is available around camp. Coolers are provided with ice for people's sodas, beer, etc. in camp. The ride also provides water canteens for each person to use around camp and on the saddle.
Vegetarians and other dietary restrictions can be catered for with advanced notice.
The surrounding country can often be very dry, so fire safety is critical. Smoking is not permitted while riding or on the trail. Guests can smoke during lunch break or at the camp; please extinguish the cigarette or cigar properly and put it in your pocket or saddlebag to be disposed of in a bin at the camp. Please do not throw cigarette butts or any other rubbish on the ground anywhere. Carry everything you take out with you back to camp and dispose of it properly. No candles or fire of any kind are allowed in the tents.
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
Summer temperatures are perfectly mild, ranging from single figures to mid 20’s (Celsius) on a warm day. Evenings tend to cool off, often requiring a sweatshirt or jacket, while days are pure mountain summer bliss. In autumn the leaves begin to change, days get shorter, but it remains one of the most beautiful and peaceful times of the year in Jackson. Autumn weather can vary as temperatures begin to cool and snow starts to appear in the higher elevations. Come prepared with long sleeves and trousers, as well as a warmer jacket and hat.
This ride is at fairly high altitude (around 8000 feet)
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.
There are no places to charge or buy batteries in or close to the camp so guests are advised to bring plenty of spares or a solar charger. There is no mobile reception at camp, your hosts have a cellular phone in case of emergencies.
2 pairs jeans or jodphurs
Riding/cowboy boots - please see below for more information.
4 long sleeved, lightly coloured cotton blend shirts/blouses with a stand-up collar
Headlamp and/or torch & spare batteries
Thick shirt or sweater
Thick autumn jacket or coat
Socks (2 pairs per day)
Warm gloves & riding gloves
Riding hat or hat with a wide brim & tie down string
Camp shoes (trainers)
Swim wear and water shoes for the river
Rain gear (good quality, no ponchos. Waterproof clothing is not provided)
Sheet liner and pillow for sleeping bag
Camp wear - comfortable trousers, shorts, t-shirts etc.
Sports bra - recommended for women
Water bottles are provided.
Half or full chaps
Lycra bike leggings to wear under jeans to help prevent chafing (no padding)
Personal snacks and drinks - alcohol, soft drinks or any special drinks are not provided but can be picked-up en-route to camp.
For June and September you also will need the following, in case of chilly weather:
Warm winter gloves
Chaps or wool trousers recommended
Extra warm socks that will fit in your boots
Riding boots: Cowboy boots or riding boots, with thin smooth soles and a moderate riding heel. English riding boots are acceptable. Please do not bring any other footwear for riding. Hiking-style boots with a lug sole and any type of shoe are not acceptable.
All programmes are 7 days/6 nights and are available on set dates between mid-June and mid-September.
2019 Girls Ride Out: 21 June; 1* July; 4* (full) August; 3* September
2019 Mixed Ride Out: 21 July; 14* August
* denotes advanced riders only
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2019 Girls Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Girls Ride Out||2,655|
|2019 Mixed Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Mixed Ride Out||2,655|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2019 Girls Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Girls Ride Out||2,875|
|2019 Mixed Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Mixed Ride Out||2,875|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2019 Girls Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Girls Ride Out||3,249|
|2019 Mixed Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Mixed Ride Out||3,249|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2019 Girls Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Girls Ride Out||31,049|
|2019 Mixed Ride Out||7d/6n||5||double pp Mixed Ride Out||31,049|
In preparation for your ride we recommend you read any books by Ray Hunt, Tom and Bill Dorrance or Buck Brannaman.
Bobbi and mike also highly recommend the practice of core building and awareness in a neat little book by Tom Nagel entitled "Zen & Horseback Riding: Applying the Principles of Posture, Breath and Awareness to Riding Horses", Second Edition, Foreward by Sally Swift. This little gem is the best guide to explaining the importance of core strength as it relates to riding, and how to engage and build those muscles.
We also recommend 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. Another fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
If you prefer films we suggest you try Lonesome Dove.
Yellowstone National Park, Teton National Park and Jackson Hole are all close by. There are many outdoor activities available in Jackson Hole including whitewater rafting, fishing, ziplining, kayaking and rock climbing.
Desert elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, several varieties of hawks, prairie falcons and the golden eagle. It is possible to see wild mustang on the Mustang Adventure itinerary.
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.