The Resort at Paws Up is a working ranch with a luxury resort plopped in the middle of it. Because it’s a real ranch there are ample opportunities for authentic cowboy adventures. From pony rides for little ones to actual cattle drives, there’s something for every horse lover.
What you need to know:
Though they offer trail rides for beginners, if you’ve never been on horseback before I recommend booking a private lesson. I heard one guest refer to the horses as “big go-karts.” I bit my tongue. Everyone who gets on the back of a horse should know the basics if for no other reason than safety. Also, you will enjoy your ride more if you know even a little bit, believe me, the horses know if you have any clue what you are doing.
Though I am a skilled rider, my children have never been on horseback. We booked a private lesson for the entire family at the Saddle Club, the indoor arena. Our wrangler, Kendra taught the boys how to approach a horse, why you never walk behind a horse, how to mount and dismount and the basics of neck reining.
After that lesson they had complete horse confidence and enjoyed all of our other equestrian adventures so much more.
We caught Keaton’s very first ride on video.
Though the trail rides are gorgeous, don’t expect to trot even if you are a skilled rider. The group works at the level of the least experienced rider. Even if you book a private, it might be too hot for the horses to work that hard.
The cattle drive is a three hour adventure. The day we were supposed to do ours it was over 100 degrees we wisely chose to wait until our next visit to do our rustling.
For little ones there are complimentary pony rides and horse painting in the kids’ camp. You don’t paint pictures of horses, they paint the horses with their hands. I know, right?
Our favorite activity was no not on the schedule- watching the horses come in from the field in the morning. All of the horses are turned out overnight on the many thousands of acres owned by Paws Up. If you get down to the Wilderness Outpost at around 7:00am you can watch the wranglers bring the horses in for the day. It’s one of the more gorgeous things I’ve ever seen.
Even if you have no interest in riding, you can enjoy the majesty of these gorgeous creatures every night during dinner. They are turned out in fields that can be seen from the restaurant. One night I barely ate preferring to wander the fields taking photos. It was a little like dying and going to heaven for a horse lover.
Our trip to Paws Up has started a horse love affair for Keaton. Though he was too young for the cattle drive this year, the head wrangler, Ashley, promised him that if he took lessons and proved to her that he was a real cowboy, she would let him join in next summer. He might only weigh 55 pounds, but he can now tack a horse all by himself.
The rates for equestrian adventures vary widely, from a free pony ride, to $100 per person one hour trail ride to $375 per person for a cattle drive. My adventures were complimentary, all of my family’s were at our expense. Also buying Keaton a horse now is not going to be cheap, thanks Ashley.