For a true taste of the wild west, head to America's lone-star state on an action-packed ranching holiday.
Whether you fancy yourself as a bit of a cowboy or are just bored of the usual resort holiday, a ranching trip might be just the thing you are looking for.
If like me, you have little riding experience, this needn’t put you off as many ranches cater for all levels of abilities. I opted for the Beaumont Ranch in Texas, home of the Stetson-toting cowboy, and they are well versed in handling complete novices, such as me, up to the more experienced rider.
With its own herd of Texas longhorns, horses, two huge events barns and central location near Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, the vast 323-hectare (800-acre) Beaumont Ranch is perfect for those looking for the ultimate taste of Texas, both in the saddle and out of it.
I first arrived at the Beaumont Ranch in the dead of night, unaware of the stunning scenery and active farmland that surrounded me. However, the ranching experience immediately began when I was shown into my impressive suite. Each room has been especially designed to emulate Texas at the end of the 19th century, and certainly set the scene for the week to come.
After waking at dawn, and marvelling at my stunning lake view, it was time to get stuck into my western experience. My first day on the ranch saw me practising lassoing skills, and quite frankly, mine required a bit of work. Apparently it’s all in a well-timed snap of the wrist used to encircle the cow, or in my case a plastic longhorn, and proved a lot harder than it looked but highly entertaining nonetheless.
One of the best things about the Beaumont Ranch is the choice in activities on offer. For those looking for the complete cowboy experience you can opt for activities such as branding, cattle drives, fence checking, horse riding and overnight camping trips. Alternatively, those looking for a less hands-on experience can partake in a country dance lesson, enjoy a round of golf or relax with a spot of fishing at the well-stocked pond.
Personally, I opted for the more active experience and decided to saddle up and ride out with the longhorns in true cowgirl manner. Sat astride my sturdy steed, Black Jack, many a morning was spent trekking out in search of the cattle and then helping the experts herd them up. Being a complete city slicker, the beautiful blue sky, rolling hills and vast open plains made the ride a completely unforgettable experience.
My last night on the ranch was spent relaxing in true western style as we sat around the flickering campfire toasting smores – a delicious mixture of toasted marshmallows, chocolate and biscuits. This favoured snack of the modern-day cowboy certainly made great campfire fodder and the perfect end to a fantastic ranching holiday in the lone-star state.
For more information contact the State of Texas Tourism Office.