Working on a ranch in the west is one of those dreams of childhood that only the boldest, bravest, and most beautiful people will actually chase. It takes a rare breed to type ‘dude ranch jobs’ into your search engine of choice, but an even rarer kind to make it all the way out here and try to fill your first pair of cowboy boots. What does it look like now that it isn’t playing cowboys and Indians? Is there a Culture of the West, or is that an artifact of times gone by? Are there still ‘real’ cowboys? Do you have to know how to ride a horse? Do they even have a Walmart all the way out there?
Let me try and answer a few of those questions for you here.
There is a different culture out in the country. We don’t have as much of a need for swearing, and we still think family values are important. We’re nice to our neighbors because we’ll need them the next time we lose a load of hay on the sharp curve of the highway, and we’ll be ready to come when they need an extra hand taking the cows home. Most of the food is home-cooked because we don’t have a deli on every corner, and it’s better than you’d expect. Beans and bacon on the chuck wagon are only on theme nights.
Running a working ranch or a dude ranch doesn’t just mean riding cows and looking cool. Dude ranches employ maintenance crews to keep the ranch working, a kitchen crew keeps everybody fed, housekeepers keep everything in order, and the barn crew takes care of the herd, leads rides, and fixes fences. If you haven’t ridden before, you’ll have a chance to learn.
Those are things you might do if you come work on a dude ranch, but your job is to be a part of the team that makes everything work together. Everyone pulls their weight and does a bit of everything. The mountains and the challenges forge a group of staff members from all walks of life into a cohesive force of love and friendship and hilarity.
You’ll make incredible friends. You’ll meet amazing people. You’ll have the time of your life. You’ll wake up each day in the most beautiful place on earth. You’ll never do anything else quite like it.
You might even fall in love with the west while you’re here, but I can guarantee you that you’ll be different when you go home.
Latigo has a full crew this year, but there are still ranches that need good hands if you haven’t applied yet. What are you waiting for?
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