Dude ranches are the original Western vacation. Our first ranchers introduced the unique beauty of the American West to “dudes” from all over. All this happened in the best way possible: from the back of a horse. This horseback adventure was surrounded by honest and real Western hospitality that these dude ranch pioneers considered a part of the code of the west. The Dude Ranchers’ Association was founded to preserve, protect, and promote their unique vacation experience and its identity. Though guest expectations have changed and ranchers have had to change with them, the core principles of dude ranching remain the same. The following six words beginning with H represent the ideas that summarize those principles. The notes clarify how these principles apply to any ranch that is a member or seeks to become a member of the DRA.
- Horses are central to any dude ranch experience.
- There must be adequate stock, tack, facilities, and trails for the riding program. All will be well cared for.
- Attention will be paid to horse and rider safety.
- Hats symbolize the special emphasis on Western atmosphere and appearance.
- A genuine friendly Western welcome with staff, food, accommodations, facilities, and activities to authenticate it.
- Dude ranch vacations began as long stays where relationships developed and guests had an exclusive and complete ranch experience.
- Dude ranch guests will be on an American plan.
- Even amidst today’s pressures for quick visits and short vacations, ranches should encourage week-long stays (6 or 7 nights.)
- Regular multi-day dude ranch guests should not be significantly or adversely affected by any non-dude ranch business.
- You are at least a good as you advertise, if not better.
- You operate your business with integrity.
- You have a heart for developing friendships with your guests and demonstrate it in your actions.