We spent the day at Rocking Z Guest Ranch, a working/guest ranch whose motto is, “We love our horses and share them with our guests.” My 6-year-old daughter Saya’s initial impression came true: “This is more awesomer than awesome, more better than best!” From the moment we arrived, I could tell this is a special place where guests quickly become family and return again and again. The ranch, which began operations in 1863, is run by Patty and Zack Worth, who have been ranching since 1974. Two of their six children, Maria and Anna, work the ranch with them. Zack’s great-grandfather moved to Montana in 1862 in search of gold and finally homesteaded in the Wolf Creek Canyon in 1876. Patty’s grandfather homesteaded near Great Falls in 1889.
Sho, Saya and I slept last night on comfortable cots in a wood frame wall tent with a wooden floor and an outhouse nearby. Before falling asleep we stared up at the glowing display of stars spread above in the big open sky and the bright full moon rising over a ridgeline. Sho excitedly pointed out the Big Dipper, then deduced the location of the North Star. Saya found several “wishing stars” and asked if I thought all her wishes would come true. I said that I hoped so, while Sho said, “They have to be reasonable. It won’t work if you wish for a unicorn,” which annoyed Saya.
In the morning, we joined about twenty guests for breakfast in the main house, then spent the morning riding Quarter Horses. Saya rode sweet-tempered and calm Darlynn. Sho rode Doc, a bit of a rascal who loved to stop and eat throughout our ride. And I rode Storm, a white, 18-year-old female who has given birth to five foals. She was responsive and sweet-tempered. We were guided by Maria, the fifth of Patty and Zack’s six children, who grew up on horses and has studied natural horsemanship. In short, she is what Saya wants to be when she grows up! We were also joined by Maddie, a college student from England working at the ranch on a 5-month work/study program (coincidentally, Sho, Saya and I cycled near her home in southeast England on our trip across Europe last summer). We rode our horses through the valley floor, then to the top of a hill with a commanding view.
We spent the afternoon swimming in a nearby creek with some other guests. Saya even rode a horse (named April) with Anna, the Worth’s youngest daughter, as it swam across a deep part of the creek. We took a horse-drawn wagon a mile away from the ranch to see two foals: Gus, a pure Quarter Horse born in May, and Serenity, an Azteca born in June.
Today’s summary: Sho and Saya were in heaven. Me too.
Here are some pics:
Saya on Darlynn
Sho, Saya and I with Darlynn, Doc and Storm during our morning ride
Saya with Anna Worth on the swimming horse April. Saya could not have been more excited by this experience.
Sho and Saya with the 2-month old foal Gus
Sho with the shy, one-month-old foal Serenity
Saya with her beloved Martina, who took her on a bareback pony ride