Posts Tagged With: horse ride in big sky country

Looking back at my Cowgirl Adventure

In this edition of ggjourneys, In The Saddle’s Becky Clarke tells of her stay at Hidden Hollow Hideaway in June 2016.


It’s been a while now since I visited Montana and still most days I find myself day-dreaming of the wide open spaces, beautiful horses and the immense sense of freedom that comes with having the wind fly through your hair!

I have been to a fair few places in my life and yet whenever anyone asks me about my favourite, my mind skips back to the days I spent chasing calves and watching the sun rise over the Rockies.

When I first arrived at Hidden Hollow Hideaway Ranch, I was beyond excited to be joining one of their  cattle drives! My childhood summers as far back as I can remember would consist of my cousins, my sister and I riding off from the farm, across the fields in search of some cattle to round-up (much to my grandfather’s annoyance)!

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is owned and run by the Flynn family whose roots can be traced back to the 1860s when Kelly’s ancestors followed the gold rush to Diamond City. Kelly, Jill and Siobhan Flynn were at the ranch whilst I was there and after welcoming the group and showing us to our rooms, it was time to ride.

First though, we got to meet our steeds and it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the beautiful ‘Cub’ – and what an absolute gentleman he was too.

As it happened our first full day of the week was the cattle drive itself. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it was everything I hoped it would be!

To start with we had to scour a huge pasture for a couple of hundred head of cattle! This was a slow and careful process, making sure to get all of the calves and not split them from their mothers. Getting the bulls to move sometimes also proved difficult……

The bulls were sometimes more interested in each other than moving on.

After we had brought the whole herd together and crossed the river, we proceeded to drive the cattle up towards the mountains.

Kelly explained to us all that it was really important to keep the calves up in the middle of the herd. This was because once the herd is moving and they separate from their mothers, they try to go back to where they last fed. In this case it would be several miles back down the mountain and so we all worked hard driving the herd from the back and sides.

Once we had navigated up through forest paths, down ditches and over streams, it was time for what Kelly called the ‘stampede’! I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…….

About a mile along from where we were, the track became narrow and twisted downhill through a section of forest. This is where the cattle would start to run due to the downhill momentum. At the bottom they needed to be turned 90° right so that they didn’t head straight into a deep gully….. and guess who got taken along with Kelly…. yep it was me!

I’ll be honest – it was exhilarating! We sped around and ahead of the cattle before dropping down and through the forest. Before we’d even gotten to the bottom of the track, we could hear the herd picking up the pace, the sound of their hooves echoing through the trees.

I’m glad I didn’t try to take any pictures during the stampede but here is a nice one at the bottom of the hill once the herd had settled again. My angel Cub stood like a rock the entire time.

Although it was a hard 7 hours in the saddle, it was the cattle drive I have always dreamed of! And the view from the top was just …..WOW…..

Becky on the beautiful Cub

The riding during the rest of the week was an array of trails across the beautiful countryside. Siobhan told us stories as we rode which made the hours slip by far too quickly for my liking! In the afternoons when we weren’t riding, there was the chance for gold panning, rifle shooting or even fishing if we didn’t want to relax.

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is a working ranch and so every week is different depending on what needs to be done. However something that always needs doing is changing the irrigation pipes.

One morning I volunteered to meet Kelly at 5:30 and help him. It was great to hear all about how he set up the pipes to run water uphill and how each of the different systems work. It really put into perspective how much work is done behind the scenes – and also helped work up an appetite for breakfast!

Working at sunrise on the irrigation pipes.

Jill’s cooking throughout the week was another highlight for me. The family style, help yourself approach worked really well and we would all sit around the table together each meal time. There was a different desert each evening which was brilliant but I was slightly worried I wouldn’t fit back into my jeans by the time I left!

The main lodge at Hidden Hollow Hideaway

Each evening there was the option to go with Kelly on a wildlife drive. I remember finding these drives really interesting and learned to identify several different dear types as well as being lucky enough to see mountain goats!

There is no wi-fi at the ranch which is really nice. It allows you to just get away from everything and really get immersed into rural Montana life. With the big belt mountains behind you and the brilliant horses you get to ride, you can just forget about everything else and enjoy your surroundings.

If I had the opportunity,  I’d be back out there in a heartbeat.

And the last picture has to be of Cub.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five of the best… Winter Wonderland Trips

If you are one of the people who loves winter and embraces the snow then did you know there are plenty of places where you can ride through breathtaking winter wonderlands, and take in spectacular snowy views from the back of a horse? Read our pick of some of the best ‘snow chasing’ trips you can take on horseback…

The land of ice and fire
It may seem an obvious choice, but Iceland lives up to its name in the winter months and provides a snowy haven for winter wanderers! Situated just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is an enormous, unspoilt, natural landscape dominated by volcanoes, geysers, young mountains and glaciers and exploring it by horseback is truly memorable.

Experience views from snow capped mountains and volcanoes, to lunar landscapes and waterfalls, whilst riding the wonderful native Icelandic horses. Iceland is one of the most amazing places to ride horses, and the most fun. Tolting across the wilderness on an Icelandic horse is a unique experience, and one that every rider should experience at least once in their lifetime! Their willing attitude and strength provides riders with tremendous fun and the tolt is a fast gait that is comfortable and enables the horse to cover great distances.

A Swedish adventure
If you want guaranteed snow and crisp white views, Sweden is a fabulous place to visit during the winter months. Often referred to as Europe’s last remaining wilderness, Swedish Lapland in northern Sweden is a vast landscape of towering alpine peaks and endless vistas of pine forest, Polar plains, meadows and glaciers. And what better way to explore this magical kingdom than from the back of a sturdy Icelandic horse?

on ice
On a trip to Sweden you can expect to see native wildlife including reindeer and moose, and if you are lucky, the famous Northern Lights. There are plenty of activities for riders, and non-riding guests, mixed up with cultural visits to learn more about the Saami nomadic culture. Combine riding through forests and open grassland with ice fishing, reindeer herding and sledding – to name but a few of the alternative activities available.

Sweden offers a snow-filled adventure for people that love the great outdoors and when you are not flying around the country on sleds or snowmobiles, you can experience the wonderful peace and tranquility of being in the wilderness covered in a blanket of snow!

sun riding
Escape to a winter wonderland
If you want to step back in time, then a trip to Romania will indulge the nostalgic amongst you! For many people in rural areas of this beautiful country, the main mode of transport is still horse and cart, and with no gates to open, or bridle paths and tarmac roads to restrict you, exploring the seemingly endless meadows, forest tracks and mountain rides will treat your senses!

Exploring the wild Carpathian Mountains is not for the faint hearted so you should be a confident rider – the terrain can be steep, and there are areas for some fast paced canters. It is also the only place in Europe, west of Russia, where widespread populations of wolves, bears and lynx roam.

When you embark on the Winter Ride based from Equus Silvania, during January and February, there is a very strong chance that you will experience horseback riding through the snow. Ride up the forests and see wonderful views across to snow-capped peaks in the distance, enjoy delicious warming lunches in the guesthouse and relax in front of a roaring fire in the evenings to unwind.

See the snow in Big Sky Country
If you have ever seen a Western film and felt a pang for the wide-open spaces, this is the destination for you! Surrounded by wild mountain ranges, open grassy plains and riverine forest, seeing Montana by horseback in winter is breathtaking!

Rocking Z in winter
Exploring Montana from the back of a horse means you can seek out the areas off-limits to vehicles giving an unbridled feeling of freedom and connection to the great outdoors. From crystal clear alpine lakes, to picture perfect meadows and foothills, everywhere you look in Montana is a feast for your eyes and spending time in this thought provoking country will take you far away from the wintery woes at home!

Montana offers many variations of horseback riding, from trail riding and cattle work, to natural horsemanship. Warning though, spending time in the evocative vast landscape that the legendary Monty Roberts grew up can lead to day dreaming about becoming a millionaire film star and owning a small chunk of this captivating countryside.

winter at Rocking Z
See snow-capped mountains in South America
Some parts of the world never escape from snow. A trip to Torres del Paine in the extreme south of Chile during the early months of the year may be technically during their summer, however the cool, refreshing mountain air is the perfect way to enliven the senses as you ascend up snow capped mountain trails.

With several riding options in this area, Torres del Paine will certainly appeal to the adventurous as you trek through the National Park, experiencing towering snow capped peaks, glacial rivers, azure lakes and huge glaciers!

Perfect for travellers wanting to mix up their experience with some fast paced riding and more steady trails to peruse the local surroundings, the riding in Chile is diverse. The rugged, wild beauty of the National Park is so unique that much of it is protected and riding through it is a privilege that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. For a once in a lifetime winter experience, Chile offers something spectacular.

For more information on winter riding holidays visit:

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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