Tonight is our first night and we have 29 folks signed up for the 5:30 ride, how exciting and what a great start! (and a 9:00 dessert ride too - who doesn't love hot berry cobbler from a cast iron dutch oven?)
This year we have a few new faces, and some that we all know and love. Marce is our head of horse operations and our lead sleigh driver. Marce has been at the ranch for 15 years and takes great care of our guests and horses. We have him to thank for many of the successes that the ranch has. This year our second sleigh driver is Austin, he's new to the 320 but has spent two summers down the road at the Covered Wagon. Austin is from Ohio and went to Hocking College, and we are excited to have him join the team. Eric is our third wrangler and he will be manning the warming tent this winter - he's everyone favorite since he's the smiling face you will see behind the bar in the tent. ;) Eric spent the summer with us as a wrangler and enjoyed it so much he decided to stay for the winter. He's been working on his team driving so we might even get to see him man the reigns later this winter.
And of course we couldn't have our sleigh rides without our beautiful draft horses!!
Kicking off the season this year are Ace & Joe and Tim & Jim.
Ace and Joe are a team of Percherons. Ace came to us as a saddle horse in his younger days but then we realized pretty early on he clearly was a bit more than he appeared. Joe came to us a bit later and is also trained to be ridden under saddle- although it takes a pretty big girth to get around this guy! We use him only as a wagon/sleigh horse, and he loves his job. These two have worked together for several years and really stop the show when they get going! Ace and Joe are our 'rockstars' as we call them, always great at posing for pictures, the first to come up for treats and attention, and I am sure they would be great at signing autographs if only they had thumbs! Everyone can spot Ace from a mile away, you don't see many 2,000 pound black and white painted horses - he is truly unique.
|Ace and Joe|
Next we have Tim and Jim, they are our only Belgian team that we have. Tim and Jim just came to the ranch this summer from the Club at Spanish Peaks, and we love them! They worked this summer pulling our wagons for the Chuckwagon BBQ dinners and this is our first sleigh rides with them; but they are no strangers as they did this in their last job. Tim and Jim pull very hard and have no trouble negotiating a full wagon or sleigh. They are perfectly matching so sometimes they can be hard to tell apart - but for us 'non' wranglers they can be told apart by how they stand when they are hitched. Teams of horses work together as a pair and are placed on the same side each and every time they are hooked to something. Tim and Jim go Tim on the right and Jim on the left if you are standing in front of them.
|Tim and Jim|
We are so excited to kick off this winter season! It really is the best time of the year... and what would a Montana winter be without a horse drawn sleigh ride - well we don't think it would be much at all.
PS - And our dining room is open too - and boy did Chef Martin outdo himself... everything is amazing!!! We'll write more on that later but in the meantime if you want to check out the menu you can see it at www.320ranch.com/dining/menu.php. Tons of great dishes and Martin spent the off season looking for local, sustainable,and just GOOD products to build an amazing menu with. We love supporting local businesses, it benefits everyone!