About 15 miles north of Steamboat Springs, you’ll find the tiny town of Clark, CO. This postage stamp-sized outpost in the gorgeous Elk River Valley is home to one general store, one bar, and one very luxurious all-inclusive ranch.
The Home Ranch features horseback riding, hiking, and fly fishing in the summer and snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sleigh rides in the winter. But autumn is when the ranch truly shines thanks to the changing Aspen leaves, cooler temps, and fresh harvest from the on-site farm. Small and intimate, The Home Ranch can house about 40 guests in individual log cabins (many with private hot tubs); five-star, gourmet group meals are held in the main lodge three times a day.
But the ranch grows even smaller this October 5 – 18, during the annual Women’s Yoga and Horseback Riding Retreat; 14 women come from all over the country to learn horse(wo)manship from cowgirl Tamy Pate and yogini Janice Baxter.
Men and children aren’t invited.
Although I didn’t visit the ranch during the women’s retreat, I got a taste of what is on offer as I rambled among the sprawling ranch with stables, indoor riding arena, pond stocked with trout, beautiful trails, pool, and a farm and hen house. The ranch is a world away from the traffic, overcrowded spaces, and noise pollution of daily life. The mellow soundtrack is provided by the wind on the aspen leaves and the soft warbling of mountain bluebirds.
I even got on a horse for the first time in 15 years thanks to a wrangler named Tayler, who did groundwork with me and a horse named Clyde before I ever saddled up. Groundwork exercises help you and your horse get to know each other and your leadership. This was a revelation to me. In prior experiences, I was just thrown on a horse and I was freaked out. Not a good experience for me or the horse.
All levels are welcome at the women’s retreat. With more than 80 horses on the ranch, there’s definitely one perfect for you. You ride the same horse for the entire week, building a stronger and stronger bond with your animal every time.
Daily yoga sessions help stretch your muscles and build a body awareness and sensitivity that benefits your horseback riding.
After riding, there are multiple opportunities to unwind and indulge. This is a Relais & Chateau resort, so count on five-course dinners in the evenings with wine pairings. And the food, much of it fresh from the farm, is exquisite.
You can also schedule a massage on site, because even cowgirls like to get pampered.
Women’s Yoga & Horseback riding retreat held October 5 – 11 and October 12 -18, 2014. For more information, click here.
Joan Gisler at Lazy G Bar Ranch in Big Oak Flat, California, near Yosemite National Park, offers yoga for horsemanship on a regular basis. For those on the West Coast, it’s worth checking out! http://www.joangislerranch.com