Horseback Riding at Bar W Guest Ranch
Take advantage of our advanced and diverse equestrian program!
At the Bar W Guest Ranch, horses are central to the ranch experience and our riding program is the ranch’s main attraction. Our knowledgeable wranglers, the assorted terrain, and our large herd of good mountain horses make riding at the Bar W exceptional.
From our home at the base of Spencer Mountain, we offer outstanding horseback riding in the mountainous Montana terrain surrounding the ranch, not to mention the thousands of acres the ranch has access to at other locations. You’ll ride in places with names like Sunday Creek, Lake Koocanusa, and the Kootenai National Forest.
If you find yourself on the cattle drive in the wide-open prairie of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. There may be no other place quite like it; you’ll find there really are ‘purple mountains majesty’ waiting for you. The Bar W truly is an equestrian’s dream, where time will run a little slower, things will seem a little simpler, and every day will feel like Saturday.
Riding Guidelines at the Bar W
Horses come in varying sizes, as do riders. Each horse can reasonably carry a limited weight without becoming injured or sore. Your athletic ability and riding experience, as well as the speed, length, and terrain of the ride, will influence the stress you place on a horse as you ride. It also affects your ability to ride safely.
Riders need to be in good physical shape relative to their age. Riders also need to realize that some of our rides may be too challenging. Please trust our professionalism and experience to help you make that decision. Older riders will need to consider that although they were great riders or equestrians at a younger age, time takes its toll, and they may need to manage their expectations and limitations.
Monday morning every guest wanting to ride during the week must participate in our Horse Orientation and Assessment. After an instructional safety talk, the wranglers will get you mounted up and will assess your current riding level. Our riding program is broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Guests will be able to sign up for rides or lessons appropriate for their current skill level. A more experienced rider can choose to ride with a less experienced friend or family member. You can choose to ride below your level, but you cannot choose to ride above your level without passing an assessment for that level. Safety is our number one priority, and riders pushing themselves beyond their skill level is often when accidents occur.
1. We expect you to determine whether you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy an active riding-centered vacation. All riders are required to be able to mount the horse on their own; if you require physical assistance to mount the horse, we may need to restrict the length and type of riding you can do.
2. *We have a weight limit of 230 pounds for all riders. Please consider your BMI and Weight / Height Index. This might impact the kind of rides you can participate in. Feel free to call and talk with us if you think this may affect your stay with us.
3. Honestly judging riding ability is extremely important. We have horses that are suitable and safe for beginners through very advanced guests. If a person overestimates their riding ability it becomes a safety issue not only for you, but for all the other riders, our staff, and our horses. When determining riding ability, we strongly recommend you err on the conservative side, and, at all times, be honest and realistic.
4. Our trail riding is done in hilly, and sometimes challenging and steep terrain. Some rides will be on narrow, wooded paths requiring single-file riding, other rides will travel down old logging roads with space to safely ride side-by-side when the wranglers allow.
5. We treat our horses like employees and part of our team. Horses are not machines. They are very sensitive animals with different temperaments and personalities. Just like people. The most satisfying accomplishment to us is to find that special horse that matches the rider’s personality and riding level.
6. We want guests to have a fun, safe and memorable riding vacation. We also want our guests to gain knowledge and learn more about riding and horsemanship during their visit.
7. We do trot and lope on some of our rides with riders that have passed the intermediate or advanced assessment levels. However, our rides are not about racing horses and only going fast. Our advanced rides are longer, in sometimes challenging terrain and at a variety of altitudes. We lope and trot, but we never gallop on rides.
*We can sometimes accommodate a rider weighing as much as 250 lbs., but that will depend upon how many people over 200 lbs. are booked that particular week. Depending on your height, weight, and athleticism, you may be able to do walking rides, but not be able to trot or lope on horseback. Your rides may also be shorter in duration, and you may be riding a draft horse. It may also limit the number of times you can ride in a day.