Being a Guide at the Ranch
Summary: Having the responsibility of a family’s wilderness experience taught me a lot. It was an incredible opportunity to develop leadership skills while having fun as a guide at the ranch.
Once I got used to how things worked at the ranch, I had the opportunity to take more responsibilities. One week I and another community partner, Elke, had the responsibility to take care of a family who stayed at the ranch for a Dude Ranch Experience. There were four of them: the parents and two kids, an 11 year-old girl and an 8 year-old boy. They came all the way from England to have a special wilderness experience with us. The mom and daughter were both passionate about horses, and ever since the girl watched the Canadian TV show, Heartland, she wanted to come to a ranch in Canada.
Before they came, I was super nervous but determined to make their experience memorable. Strangely, when they finally arrived to the ranch, I was not as nervous anymore. They were super nice and willing to participate all the time! As they arrived a little bit late, we had to split the riding orientation and do only the theoretical part on that day. The next day, Elke and I got up early to get the horseback part in and start saddling them. We had a few challenges, the stirrups are way too long and couldn’t be shortened, the kids couldn’t reach the stirrups and couldn’t get on, Tepee was escaping from his halter… but we managed! We had to use our leadership skills to show them we had it under control and reassure them.
We also had meals with them which were opportunities to get to know everyone better. It was great to bond with them all throughout the week and make sure everyone was having a great time. During the riding orientation, we could see they were all listening and made sure the instructions were passed on. The next days, we had day rides around the ranch and lunch on top of the mountains with breath-taking views. Or so we planned… We went to Lovers’ Bluff to show them the view of the lake and the ranch but when we got there all we could see was a big white sky. Back at the ranch, we had a traditional bonfire with hot chocolate, marshmallows and campfire songs. One day, one of our rides was to the grizzly den. Being the lead guide during the rides, I had to show my responsibility, skills and ability to overcome the challenges that come up in nature. We also had the opportunity to show them how to lasso, do target shooting and archery.
Guiding this family for a whole week was a new responsibility for me. I had to make sure they stayed safe, we were going the right way, they and the horses were doing fine but also that they listened to my instructions. Both the parents and the kids were lovely and always paid attention. However, I still had to make sure I was clear enough in my instructions and that they understood how important safety was.
Thanks to this opportunity, my leadership skills as well as my ability to believe in them improved a lot. I never thought that having so many responsibilities at the same time would end up being as fun as it is instructive.
Raphaëlle, 19, France