Home from Arizona with a temperature of 30C and clear blue skies, there is much to reflect upon. One thought that comes to mind, that I wouldn’t normally dwell on, is the ranch holiday.

Chrissie and I spent one night at the White Stallion Ranch on the way to our hotel in Tucson. The whole holiday was one of stunning views wherever we went. While returning from Sedona, “God’s Home” in the southern Arizonian desert, we found the While Stallion Ranch just a few miles off Interstate 10.

The desert surrounding the ranch was an incredible scene of various cacti and extraordinary mountains. The facilities themselves were first-rate, with good food, bar, gymnasium, heated pools, hot tubs and more. The rooms and communal areas had a tasteful southwestern décor, adorned with artefacts most of us would love in our own homes. Although expensive, we highly recommend this place for anyone wanting to go to a dude ranch with quality hotel facilities, well-looked-after horses (even some real old retirees!) and service to all standards of riding, from first-time to more experienced riders. If you need a little more pep, they even hold team penning competitions and the chance to practice some roping.

During our evening there, I was surprised to find out nine of our fellow guests were from the UK. What was fascinating was that they thoroughly enjoyed their Western riding and were keen to tell me how different it was from British riding! The fact was, despite the internet, they had never heard of Western riding, WES or Western Horse UK. This was a real shock and shows how much each area has hardly scratched the surface. Maybe we all need to get together to think further on exposure and promotion.

If nine British people at one ranch have never heard of Western riding in the UK and we multiply that by the number of ranch holidays available in the US, there are an incredible amount of potential members out there. The enthusiasm from these nine people when I mentioned WES and Western Horse UK was more than exciting and shows that we still have a long way to go.

Coming into 2016, the show season has already started for some and is fast approaching for the rest. Are you ready? Obviously number one, make sure your vehicles are up to “speed” (i.e. mot, tax, tyres, etc.) on the vehicle and on trailers as well. It’s bad enough trying to get your nerves in order to show but having a last-minute panic because the tyres are bald, the lights don’t work, and/or the flooring is not safe for a horse, is not going to help you. I would suggest that you take your vehicles out for a test drive at least one month before using them. Check for flat spots on tyres where they’ve been standing for four months and check tyre pressure, as both affect a comfortable ride for your horse. Also check tyres for cracks as they deteriorate with age rather than mileage. Maybe also check that your horse is still loading OK!

Number two is to get a file prepared with all of the documentation that you need in order for you and your horse to show: copies of registrations, competition licences, memberships, the entry form, show schedule and the legally required passport. Also don’t forget to include your cheque book or money for your entries. The show secretary will love you forever, or maybe just for those five minutes when you write out that cheque!

Wishing you all a successful show season for 2016, I look forward to seeing you down the road somewhere.

Onwards and upwards,