Ride report: Kara Creek, Wyoming working ranch

Ride report: Kara Creek, Wyoming working ranch

North America / Ride reports 0

 When was the last time you had any time out from work, family and the daily grind?! Well… that's exactly what my trip to Kara creek Ranch was all about.


Discovering Kara Creek Ranch, Wyoming working ranch


Together with my intrepid photographer friend Oana, we arrived in Rapid City (South Dakota) at lunchtime after a very early 4am start from Richmond, Virginia. So it was lovely to get out and see the wide open spaces and very different landscape of South Dakota. Cody, the wrangler in charge of us this week was ready with his pick up to drive us to the Ranch, a short two-hour drive.As promised on arrival at the ranch, we were immediately made welcome by Cassie, the manager and co-owner of Kara Creek, a traditional working ranch spread over 70,000 acres. After a quick change of clothes in our rustic but comfy cabin, fully decorated with various witty quotes and wisdoms, we headed out on our first ride. 

Kara Creek Ranch, Wyoming
Kara Creek Ranch, Wyoming - Photo credit Oana Moore

Cody seemingly at random lassoed two horses for us and told us to choose one each. I got the lovely Rabbit, a chestnut with biggish ears? Hence the name! But what a pleasure to ride, with just the slightest indication he would turn, stop or go. Oana chose the dun who was named Clive and he was a perfect gentleman for her too. Off we set to go find some cows that belonged to a neighbor of Kara Creek. With an eye roll and a groan Cody told us that this neighbor's cows are always getting out. And who wants to feed the neighbors cows? After what seemed a long way but was probably only a few miles we were in the general vicinity of the escaped cows…Now all we had to do was find them and herd them back. Not that easy as it turns out. You know that really annoying thing people always tell you about finding needles in haystacks? Well, it felt a bit like that! How can 8 or so black cows just disappear in a few hundred acres?

Just as we were about to call it a day and head home we spotted them in a little valley. With eager cries and lots of fun maneuvering we got them rounded up and back into a pen ready for the neighbor to pick up along with a lecture from Cody on keeping his fences fixed! This was a very fun experience, and we actually felt like cowgirls for the afternoon! A hearty meal in the main ranch house with the rest of the team and we were off to bed for a good night's sleep.


Welcome to Kara Creek, Wyoming working ranch - Photo credit Oana Moore
Welcome to Kara Creek, Wyoming working ranch - Photo credit Oana Moore

A real ranch holiday


The next few days were spent doing more of the same. Oana and I both felt we were getting more proficient at reading the cattle body language and just generally letting our horses do what they had to do, as undoubtedly they were the experts here. It's amazing how modern day ranching really does need horses (and cowgirls too of course!) to get the job done. The terrain is such that a four-wheeler often can't get to the cows where the horses can. And 70,000 acres is a lot of fencing to be upkept, so the cows would definitely get to places they were not supposed to be on a regular basis. We also had to sort cattle that had been branded from those that had not in preparation for branding day. And one day we had to load our three horses plus a couple of bulls into a trailer (yes all together) and then we drove over to part of the ranch that was situated near the iconic Devils Tower, a rock thumb seemingly sticking out of the ground for no particular reason. We then had to offload the bulls with a group of heifers ready to be bred.


Midweek we got to do a little road trip to explore the area, and we managed to get all the way to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial followed by dinner in Deadwood which is a town much like an old western town in the movies, complete with a shoot out every afternoon.


Definitely one of the highlights of our trip was meeting Hawkeye, a retired broncbuster/movie stuntman and now singer and entertainer at Kara Creek. What a character and he loves chatting to all the guests and sharing all his stories from his days on the road. He also plays guitar and sings in the bar/saloon in the evening much to everyone's delight.

Louise (right) and the Kara Creek team driving cattle - Photo credit Oana Moore
Louise (right) and the Kara Creek team driving cattle - Photo credit Oana Moore


A real western riding adventure


What was amazing about our week was how much freedom we were given and how we got to help out wherever we felt comfortable. One morning we got up early and went to see the herd of horses grazing nearby, and when we mentioned this to Monte the owner he said "sure why not bring them in for the wranglers"? So we just hopped on our horses bareback the following morning, and soon found ourselves cantering in with the herd much to our delight.


Absolutely the highlight of the week was our final day; we got to participate in a branding event on a neighbor’s ranch. This is a big social event. It takes many hands to round up all the cattle that are often spread out, then to separate the calves from their mothers. This, by the way, was a real eye opener for me, as it involves some serious skill with a horse and a rope. Then the teenagers wrestle the calf to the ground where it gets branded, vaccinated and if it’s a male castrated all in the space of about a minute. The calf's bellow in absolute outrage, it's amazingly noisy but as soon as it's all done they jump up and go find their mothers, everything seemingly forgotten.

Branding day at Kara Creek Ranch - Louise is helping with injections. Photo credit Oana Moore


The branding truly felt like we were able to participate in a real timeless western experience. The whole week gave the feeling of being part of the ranch family and a glimpse of being part of a modern working ranch. Totally something which neither my friend Oana nor I had ever experienced before and definitely something we want to do again.


By Equus team member Louise.

More information

To find out more about Kara Creek Ranch, please visit our website. 
You can also contact us directly at info@equus-journeys.com or give us a call on +44 (0)1905 388 977

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