MANCOS, COLORADO — Dude ranches allow vacationers to experience the feel of the Old West...as they ride horses, and take part in other fun activities while enjoying beautiful scenery.
One popular dude ranch in the US western state of Colorado is tucked in a stunning mountain location 2400 meters-high.
It's time for another hearty meal at the Majestic Dude Ranch.
Robert Bucksbaum bought the ranch in the San Juan Mountains 3 years ago. He’s a hands-on owner, who not only cooks for his guests, but also gets involved in the dirty work.
"I love being around horses. When I came here I knew this is the right place for me," said Bucksbaum.
Brandon Sanderson manages the riding program. He says a dude ranch horse has certain characteristics.
“You kind of look for a horse that has more of a herd instinct, that doesn’t want to be a loner, wants to be a group horse," said Sanderson.
He matches the horse to the rider's experience. Christa Balogh tried riding for the first time this week.
“It was hard at first. Scary for that matter, very scary. If you don’t have your feet situated right, you have no control," said Balogh.
Wrangler Clint Show helps take care of the horses and leads trail rides.
“I really enjoy showing people how to ride, what it is to ride this country. It’s really fun," said Show.
There's more than horseback riding at this dude ranch.
Greg Szymanski is bike riding with his daughter. When she suggested they go to a dude ranch, he didn’t know what it was, but is glad he came.
“When I got out here this was really great. A lot of stars, horseback riding, mountaineering, a little climbing, it’s a good time," said Szymanski.
That good time also includes country line dancing. Bonita Holden is a big fan.
“It is great exercise, and very good for your mind to remember all the steps, and it’s really fun," said Holden.
Carolyn Glazner is taking on the challenge of shooting at a small moving target.
“The thing about the dude ranch is that it’s so different from anything you experience anywhere else, where you get to walk around in cowboy boots, be in the dirt, ride horses. And those aren’t things you get to go in your normal life, and certainly not in the city, so it’s a great experience to try different things," said Glazner.
She and her son Eric Green live near the beach in California and are excited about horseback riding in the mountains. Green's overwhelmed by the beauty.
“I’ve never seen so many trees in my life. It’s unbelievable. You can see them as far as the eye goes. So it’s beautiful. It’s really different scenery for me and I love it," said Green.
Robert Bucksbaum says it makes him feel good that guests are having so much fun.
“You know, we've had people who are stressed out from their normal workday, and they come here and you can just see the stress being shed off day by day, and it gets better as the week goes on, and seeing the joy in their faces makes it really worthwhile," he said.