It may seem like our wranglers at Rancho Las Cascadas have the perfect job: Riding horses all day long. But let us assure you, there is more to their day than just riding the open range. They are responsible for the care and safety of every horse and every rider from early morning to late night. If you’ve ever wondered what else they do during the day, here’s a sneak peak.
Our wranglers generally work five-days in a row followed by two consecutive days off. For convenience, staff quarters are available if a wrangler chooses to sleep at the Rancho during the work week rather than commute home every night. The day starts bright and early and the horses don’t like to wait!
The horses are hungry and they want food. The wranglers distribute a mix of hay, alfalfa and oats depending on the size of each horse and expected activity levels for the day. To make sure the horses digest all of their food effectively, the wranglers try to give the horses as much time as possible between breakfast and their first ride.
Now that the horses are fed, the wranglers can fill their bellies as well. Every morning the kitchen staff prepares the wranglers a delicious, hot meal to help keep stomachs from growling until lunchtime.
The fun begins! Every evening, the wranglers are given a list of horses that are expected to work the next morning. They pull that list and begin catching horses in the pasture. Some are easier to grab than others! Once brought to the barn yard, each horse is evaluated carefully to make sure he is healthy with no visible impairments or issues (like missing shoes). If all is well, each is groomed, saddled and prepped for the day.
Guests start making their way to the barn yard. The wranglers help each mount his/her horse and adjust the stirrups. When all are ready, each wrangler leads his group through the Rancho grounds and out the gate.
The length and intensity of the ride is always determined by the group, so each ride is different. However, the wranglers always try to give the guests an opportunity to stretch their legs and grab a drink at one of the local tiendas during the half-way point of their ride.
Wrangles who do not go riding are in charge of cleaning the grounds for the horses, checking on the remaining horses in the pasture, and reviewing/repairing all of the tack. They are also responsible to make sure there is food available for the horses in the pasture at all times. They spend a lot of time refilling the big black tires with hay!
After helping the guests dismount, unbridling the horses and giving them extra grain, the wranglers steal away for a quick bite to eat. As always, the kitchen staff provides mountains of tortillas, spicy salsa and a hearty, hot dish. The wranglers can eat their fill…and it’s surprising how they do. Where could they possibly put it all?!
After a brief respite, both wrangler and horse begin the prep routine again. Each horse scheduled to work in the afternoon is given food and water as well as a quick health checkup to ensure he is in good condition for another ride. If so, the wrangler makes sure the tack is in proper working order. If not, new horses are chosen and caught in the pasture.
Guests begin making their way to the barnyard around 3:00pm to saddle up for the afternoon ride. The wranglers make sure everyone mounts safely and confirms riding preferences. The wranglers who do not ride begin afternoon rounds, making sure all the remaining horses are fed, all equipment is in proper working order, and the barnyard and pasture are clean.
All horses (and guests) must return to the Rancho by 5:30 pm. If everyone is not accounted for by this time, the Rancho staff immediately begins a formal process to track down the wranglers and their guests. This is rarely a problem, but night does fall quickly. It is good to know that the safety of every horse and rider is always top of mind at the Rancho.
When the horses return, they are given a special treat – sweet feed. They love it and look forward to it daily. The horses are then cooled down slowly. They are not untacked immediately. The weather can change very quickly and cold air blowing against a sweaty, warm horse can cause problems. When it is safe to do so, the saddles and saddle blankets are removed.
It seems like all the horses do is eat. After a day of hard work, though, they look forward to a good meal and a little relaxation…just like their humans! The wranglers make sure every horse gets food and water. They also review the health status of each horse one more time to make sure all is well.
After a 12-hour day, it is time for the wranglers to take it easy…or maybe just take a shower!
The wranglers who sleep at the Rancho sit down to dinner at this time. Every night is different, but you can be assured they are rewarded for a hard day’s work with more corn tortillas (served warm) and generous portions of delicious Mexican cuisine.