To start off, I live in North Carolina right now, am 18 years old, and looking to do something totally different. I've worked with horses all my life, am pretty confident in my horsemanship skills even though I learn something new every day, and have worked on a farm all my life and am not afraid of hard work. I have taught my self how to rope, with some proffesional help here and there, but am still very amateur.
How could I go about finding a job on a ranch out west(Montana/Wyoming)? As I understand it, it would be best to start off at a dude ranch and work my way up...but that's seasonal and I would be looking for something for the winter which is where I'm kind of stumped. I have my own tack (saddle, breast collar, bridle, pad, saddle bags, etc).
My plan would be to save up a couple thousand dollars and get all my tack, enough clothes for a couple of weeks, my guns and ammo, maybe my fly fishing rod and tackle, and enough music and food to last me there. Of course I would like to have a job before I made the trip.
Also what certain skills would you suggest I concentrate on when it comes to horseback riding? I just want to be as ready as possible before I do it.
Thanks for the help!
What sort of job do you have in mind? Being a trail guide? Cattle work?
I would like to do cattle work, but do not have experience with it so I would have to find somewhere to learn as I go. I am experienced in trail riding though
Have you looked into becoming a trail guide/instructor at one of those guest ranches? I think some of them would even let you bring your own horse.
As for a job in cattle work, anyone hiring is going to want experience.
Up here, we have a course that is a basic rundown of the cattle/horse buisness and handling cows in a stress free way horseback. I hear most students that gradute have no problems landing a PFRA job. I'm planning on taking the course, so if you reeeeally want to get into the cattle industry, I would look into a course very similar.
If you want to do ranch work, I would not do the dude wrangling... your better off working in a feedlot. This way you can learn cattle. Even if you work at a feedlot where they don't rope(which most don't anymore) you learn to work, sort, class, and detect sickness. Which is the main reason to be a cowman/cowboy....if it wasn't for cattle and taking care of them, who needs a cowboy!!!!!!
The best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. Most cowboys will show you something once but only once. If you seem to ignore it or start to argue you will soon find yourself on the fence crew.
That is one thing I regret not doing is working a feedlot. My husband has and he is so quick sorting cattle in the pens. And he loves classing and shipping cattle....frankly I get bored working in the corrals all day, lol, but I wish I was better at it.
And he always spots the sick ones before I do. He has taught me how to catch it before they get sickly looking. If you can catch it and doctor them before they get obvious sick, you save stress on the cattle and money by using less meds.
I think someone who has worked in a feedyard has a huge advantage over someone that hasn't. And they are everywhere, our yearlings would get shipped to Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. And of course you have Harris Beef in California, Simplot in Oregon and Idaho. Just to name a couple...but there is little ones everywhere. You might want to try looking in the Western Livestock Journal or the Capital Press for jobs sometimes they have stuff listed in there. You may have to provide your own horses and sometimes they will provide them. You will want a couple to rotate through and if you can ride colts this is a good way to make some extra money. Taking in a few outside horses and riding them in a feedlot for a few weeks gets them broke.
Another option is working a day or two a week at a sale barn. Some of them don't use a horseback crew but at least you will get around cattle.
You're 18? Go back to school and get a career. Be a doctor or a lawyer, not a cowboy. Didn't Willie Nelson already tell your mother that?
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