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The Cowboy Way or So They Say

By Tatyanna Zaleski, Wrangler You found a job posting for a wrangler and you thought, “Sure, why not?” So you took a leap of faith and found the one thing that makes you love life just a little extra. You found the dream job; you just wish it wasn’t so seasonal.  You applied, got hired and now, you’re here. Your suitcase is unpacked and you’ve hung up what little reminders of home you’ve brought with. You’ve met the boss and tomorrow you’ll start the greatest adventure of a lifetime. This is what it was like my first summer at a Dude Ranch. I’m on my third summer and I don’t know if I can give it up just yet. Being a wrangler, working in such breathtaking places and with incredible animals, it’s an addiction.

Paradise Guest Ranch

They tell you it will be the worst best summer of your life. After those words, most people would turn around and run, because this job isn’t for most people. It’s for people who love horses more than any other mammal, who love to meet people, who love the outdoors, who love hard work, and who love to wake up early. This job is for people who want to learn about themselves, make friendship that will last a lifetime, and become staycationers in the most beautiful places on Earth. So if you checked yes too all the above, then you are ready to experience life on the ranch. Here is the reason why I think this is the best job ever, in addition to the above mentioned items:

1. I ride horses all day long

2. I get to listen to my own voice for equally as long

3. I get to wake up every morning to the views you see on postcards Can anyone else tell me a job where you get to do all that and eat gourmet food and pick your family? At the ranch, the food was great, alright, it was better than great. So, my thoughts were there goes my figure.  Why worry about your figure and just go for those homemade peanut butter chocolate bacon cookies. Where’s the fun in life if you can’t eat more sweets than actual meals? Plus, where else are you going to get such delicious food for free and served to you? As far as the picking your family part, it might be the best part of the whole summer. You all come here looking for something. A summer adventure, a reason to get away, a change in scenery, experience, but none of us come here knowing how close we all become. We all came from somewhere else. We all have gypsy souls. So we bond, we complain about work, we share our love for this place, we swap stories about our past, we get closer… we become a family. It was fun. It was amazing. It was the greatest summer of my life. It was the greatest time of my life. You pour your heart and soul into something, this place, this job, the horses, the RIDE. You love the horses like their your own and you praise them like they are your children. Sometimes people question if you love the horses more than people. You rarely deny it.

Paradise Guest Ranch

Each horse is so different, with different pasts and personalities, but they all do the same job and they do it with such grace and precision. They’re our silent partners. They’re the stars. They’re what everyone comes here to see. And yet, they ask they only ask for our unconditional love and admiration. And sometimes you find that horse, the ONE that makes every day better and every ride very special. You use up your photo storage on your phone taking photos of them, you spend every day off  hanging out with them, every moment of down time feeding them extra grain just to spend more time being their friend. You come for the horses, but you soon realize, it’s the people you meet who you stay for. The guests and your work companions make you think, they make you want, and mostly they help you realize how much you have to offer. I came out here to wait out a summer after graduation from college with no life plans and no clear direction. Then I met these amazing guests and colleagues with these successful lives and they gave me hope, they helped me out. They gave me their time, connections and insights then all of a sudden I’m less hopeless and lost, I’m suddenly full of plans after these three short months.  Plus I’ve made an unexpected friend and ally in this crazy world we live in.

Paradise Guest Ranch

There are so many moments that keep you going each and every day and not get bored or tired of working long hours, they are… a group day off on the back of a speed boat taking infinite pictures of everyone falling off the tube; making dinner for ten in the “dank kitchen” that should only fit three people max; it’s fishing and being able to share it with the friends you made; cooking it; it’s a 25 person family dinner at your favorite restaurant in town where everyone who works there knows your name;  it’s jumping off a 30 foot cliff into freezing cold water just to say you did it and waiting 20 minutes in the water while the rest of your friends teeter on the edge; it’s going back to these places after the summer is over and feeling all those same feelings over again and missing all those people even more. It’s an adventure to another state to see the “Daddy of them All” – the state of Wyoming.

So you came for the horses, you stay for the people, and miss the views. There is no place like this! {I almost said home, but that was taking it a little too far} How they find this isolated place with views rarely seen by humans is amazing. The first time you climb to the top of the mountain and the trail really opens up, your breath will leave your chest. There are mountains that are so tall they look like they touch the sky, they are hidden in the cloud and always covered in snow. These giant rocks cover the entire landscape and surround every part of this place. The skies are so blue and clear they make you wonder if it’s real. The air is so fresh and thin that it makes you wonder if it’s the beauty of it all or the altitude that makes it hard to breathe. And that is what makes every day so epic. A Wrangler’s job is hard, but at the end of every day you wash the dirt, or what we hope is dirt, off your hands, it feels like you live in paradise and no place can beat paradise. We end every day feeling like we taught someone something new, we learned more about ourselves, and we got do what we all love. Ride.