“You know I’m kind of scared of horses…”
These are the words I uttered to my traveling companion as we waited for our plane to take off towards White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona (where the main focus of our long weekend would obviously be horseback riding). Karisa stopped sipping her wine, looked at me with incredulity and sassily responded, “Huh – some girls weekend this will be…”
I shrugged. I figured that if I was ever going to get over my fear of horses, a guest ranch in the desert was the perfect place to do it. And I was right. (Although, I’m sure Karisa is still wondering how she got roped into this and why I couldn’t have tried to conquer these fears back home in Georgia).
A Girls Weekend at White Stallion Ranch in Tucson
Our flight touched down in Tucson just after 10:30 p.m. and a ranch employee was cheerily waiting for us at arrivals to drive us to White Stallion. Since we arrived late that evening, our first real view of the ranch wasn’t until the morning. But, the wait was well worth it – there’s nothing like opening the blinds to such a spectacular view! Seeing the cacti growing just outside of our window made me excited and anxious to see what the rest of what the ranch had to offer.
We were told that the ranch ideally likes to keep their capacity in the 75 to 85 guest range, but that the only way you would feel alone at the ranch is if you wanted to be. The friendliness of the other guests was immediately obvious. As we entered the dining room for breakfast, we were met with smiling faces and “good mornings” from every direction. People were talking about their plans for the day and inquiring about ours. We were given the choice of various breakfast meats, breads, eggs, or the breakfast special of the day – huevos rancheros, which was the perfect hearty meal to get our day started.
Our next stop was at the corral for our first “slow ride” – a saunter through the desert that every rider, regardless of experience, is required to go on before they test to participate in one of the “fast rides.” One of the things that I loved about White Stallion Ranch is that you can be assured that your horse will be well suited to your skill and ability level (or in my case, inability level). The horses receive an exceptional level of training and care to ensure that they will not harm the guests. And, assuming you two hit it off, you will be matched with your horse for the duration of your stay at the ranch. I really enjoyed this aspect and I felt a level of trust with my horse after some time with him.
When I arrived to the corral after breakfast, I was anxious, but climbed aboard my horse anyways. I found it easy to become comfortable with Sabino as he instantly fell in line with the other horses as we made our way into the desert. Trust me, no matter how experienced you are or how many times you’ve ridden a horse, you will enjoy this ride. There is nothing like taking in the beauty of the desert landscape while your horse casually follows along. I never thought I could be so relaxed… let alone on horseback.
We made it back in time for a walk around the ranch before lunch, taking in the scenery, studying the various species of cacti, and feeding the animals at the petting zoo.
(Of course, we also took a few “cactus selfies” to show our friends and family back home the gorgeous grounds).
Before we knew it, the dinner bell was rung and it was time for lunch – a taco buffet with all the fixings and various other foods in case tacos didn’t suit your taste.
Soon after lunch, it was back to the corral for the “Beer and Cheetos” ride. I think I knew before I even got to the ranch that this would be my favorite ride. I mean, if it turned out I was still afraid of horses, beer could make things better, right? Since I felt more comfortable with my horse on my second ride, I actually ended up liking the “Beer and Cheetos” ride for reasons other than I expected. After riding into the desert about 45 minutes, we reached an open air pavilion with picnic tables, snacks and drinks set up. During our “Beer and Cheetos” break, we had the opportunity to mix and mingle with other guests. Aside from another group of girls who were at the ranch for a girls getaway like us, we also met a pair of newlyweds, a father and daughter duo, and a solo female traveler. We had a great time chatting, drinking and snacking with our new friends.
We made it back to the ranch in time for a quick rest before happy hour began and then we indulged in the delicious dinner buffet. Afterwards, it was time to hit the hot tub! Since Karisa and I are both novice riders, soaking our sore muscles in the hot tub before our next day of adventures was exactly what we needed.
We kicked off day two of our girls weekend with a “Breakfast Ride” at 8:30 a.m. After 45 minutes on horseback we arrived at another picnic pavilion in the midst of the gorgeous desert. Although the set-up was similar to the “Beer and Cheetos” ride, this pavilion was in a different part of the desert, which I loved because it meant that we never took the same ride route twice and the scenery was ever-changing. Once we arrived, the ranch staff cooked a real “cowboy breakfast” for us. Scrambled eggs with sausage, potatoes, blueberry pancakes, and beautiful desert scenery, what more could we have asked for?
After resting for a bit, we lunched on the sunny patio before we decided to take “the plunge” and sign up for our very first horseback riding lesson. I originally had no desire to “go fast” on this trip, but our new ranch friends talked me into it. Because of our inexperience, we decided that a riding lesson would definitely be necessary. Lessons are one of the only things excluded in the all-inclusive ranch price, but at $20 a lesson, the experience is a steal. Our semi-private lesson had two other more experienced riders seeking tips from the wrangler on their form; whereas, Karisa and I were only hoping to learn how to “go fast” without falling off the horse. Our wrangler did a great job at spending time teaching each of us one-on-one, regardless of our varying skill levels. The lesson was well worth the (minimal) price, and I would have signed up for more in a heartbeat had our trip been longer.
Afterwards, we were ready to try our hand at “Team Cattle Penning,” an activity where four riders try to separate three cattle from their herd and force them into the pen. We were assured that any level of rider could enjoy this activity, and we were told right. Prior to competing, we had to take the “Fast Ride Test,” something any guest who wants to pen or go on a fast ride must first complete to make sure you can control your horse by speeding him up and stopping him on command. It took two tries for one of us to pass the test, but I won’t say who… (Okay, it was me). After Karisa and I both passed our riding test, we were off racing the length of the fence toward the cattle. Definitely a do-not-miss activity, and one that I would have loved to have had time to partake in again.
After penning, we met up with our new friends for social hour on the patio. We gathered outside, had appetizers and drinks and, since we had all signed up for different rides, we shared the details of our day. When it was time for dinner, we headed inside and was greeted by a cowboy serenading us with authentic “cowboy songs.” He continued his music into the night in the bar area where we gathered for cocktails and to continue our joking and laughing.
We couldn’t have enjoyed our girls weekend at White Stallion Ranch more. After spending a couple days at White Stallion Ranch, I can see why the question we were most frequently asked by other quests was, “how many times have you been here?” Initially, Karisa and I were confused by the question, but once we heard others answer “this is our fifth time,” or “we’re going on year number 12,” we got it. Guests from all of the world and with varying skill levels make the pilgrimage to the ranch annually to relax, enjoy the scenery, practice their riding, bond with each other and make new lifelong friends. Not only did White Stallion Ranch make a fantastic girls trip for Karisa and I, but judging by the new friends we made, the ranch also makes a fantastic destination for solo travelers, couples and families. Like the others we met, Karisa and I were planning our next trip back before our first visit to the ranch had even come to a close.
Have you visited a guest ranch before? Is a trip to one on your bucket list?
Although we were a guest of White Stallion Ranch, our love for the perfect weekend we spent at the ranch was all our own. For more information about White Stallion Ranch, check out their website.
This post was written by Flirting with the Globe contributor, Becky Jackson. You can read more about Becky here. Photo credits: Becky Jackson and Karisa Klee.
Pin it for Later!