Broken Back Ranch Ride



Two days working cattle, one day branding colts

This ride has a nice combination of a ‘working ranch vacation’ and fast-paced trail riding.  The Mills’ Brokenback Ranch has been here for three generations, raising cattle and Quarter Horses.  We will spend two days helping them bring their herd in from the badlands.  The Mills are happy for the help trailing their cows.  It takes an alert and skilled rider to keep them ‘paired up’ and headed the right way. The third day at the ranch will be spent branding the current colt crop.  Lynette Mills raises some of the finest Quarter Horses in the country.  It is always a thrill to gather and trail the mares and colts to the corrals.  Anyone who likes good horses will have a good time helping out.

(Check out Lynette’s website;

We will ride in a variety of terrain.  There are open, but hilly, grass and sagebrush covered badlands, and as we get closer to the mountains, red Ten Sleep sandstone cliffs.  After the ranch work, we ride up into the Ponderosa pines and limestone canyons.

Arrival Day:  Guests are picked up at the Worland Airport, or Cody and transported to Ten Sleep, pop. 280.  There you will be taken to Belinda’s house, 2.8 miles south of town.  There are 2 bedrooms which sleep up to 2 people each.  There is also a cabin out back with a double bed.  We will get settled in and have orientation at this time, and get acquainted better.  We will also have a look at the horses and the tack.  Delicious meals will be home-cooked or catered, at the house.  The views of the sunset are great from the deck, in the backyard. The view of the horses in the front yard is excellent, too!DSC00348

Day Two:  After everyone is assigned a horse, the wrangler will demonstrate saddling and help riders to tack up and familiarize themselves with western or ‘neck’ reining.  We will be packing a lunch.  Horn bags are provided for each rider, however you need to bring your own water bottles; 2 – one quart or liter bottles.  We begin the ride from the house. We will be riding in some rough country with hidden cutbanks and some rocky ridges.  It is a good place to familiarize your self with some of the natural hazards we will encounter during the week.  There are also some fabulous views of giant red cliffs and the Big Horn Mountains rising beyond them.  It reminds you of a western movie, at times.  The pace will vary according to terrain, but there are some great places to open up the horses and make some fast tracks.  There are also some places that are steep and brushy with junipers and sagebrush, that might make you want to hang on to the saddle horn.

Day Three:  After breakfast, we pack our lunch, load us and the horses up and head out to the badlands.  We will meet up with the Mills family, get instructions and split up into small groups.  We will scour the surrounding country and gather all the cattle, herding them towards some corrals, where the cattle spend the night.  This can be hard work as the cattle may be scattered very far. Riders must pay attention to the cows and calves.  It is very important to keep them together, or you are likely to have a ’turn back’.  This is when a calf looses track of his mother and decides to run back to the last place he ’nursed up’.  It could be several miles back.  Next thing you know, a calf is running back, the wrong direction.  If he isn’t headed off soon, you may loose him, or at the very least, you may chase the calf for miles, before you can manage to get him turned around and headed back to the herd.  Calf and horse and rider can become exhausted, if this happens.  Good riders pay attention and never allow a turn back to happen.  By the end of the day, you will be very familiar with that concept.  Although not as fast paced as ‘free riding’, it is hard work and it feels good to do a good job, getting the cows where they need to be.

You are likely to see Pronghorn antelope, deer, hawks and eagles, as you search for the cattle.  We stay at the house that night.

Day Four:  We again pack our lunch, load up and return to the cattle very early in the morning!    Once back with the cows, we begin trailing back to the ranch.  We are heading toward the Big Horn Mountains.    As the day stretches out, it will be very important to watch for turn-back calves.  The views, as we trail towards the Big Horns are fantastic.  One nice thing about trailing with the Mill’s is that we don’t trail down any busy roads, and only cross two roads which are hardly busy.  We are ‘out in the sticks’ and it is wonderful!  We trail all the way to the ranch.  We will leave the horses there for the night.  We go back to the house.

Day Five:  After breakfast, we saddle up and meet up with Lynette.  She will show us where we have to gather and trail the mares and colts.  They can be in several groups and we will split up for the gather.  Trailing horses can be pretty fast.  We usually have riders in the lead trying to keep them slowed up.  It is very rugged country and it takes an alert and skilled rider to keep his seat and not loose the horses.



Once the horses are corralled, the colts are sorted off the mares.  They are put in a smaller corral, sorted off their mothers, penned behind a gate and branded.  This can take most of the day, by the time we gather, sort and brand, (take pictures for Registration/Identification purposes) and return them to their spring pasture.

Day Six: Today, we ride ‘up THE mountain’, as in Brokenback Mountain.  It is a beautiful ride, heading up higher,  up into the pines and canyons.  Native Americans spent lots of time here, in the past.  You may get lucky and find an arrowhead.  Although the land is rugged and rocky at times, there are also sandy stretches that are great for gallops.  We may spot deer, antelope and elk.  The views across the Big Horn Basin are the best. You never knew you could see so far.

We will drop down into North Brokenback Canyon, cross the creek and pick up an ancient Indian trail.  Not many people even know about this trail.  The Mills family has private access to the trail though the only canyon crossing.  You should feel pretty lucky to be riding there.  The trail cuts from one canyon to another.  We wind along and up and down through red dirt country, junipers and pine.  As we ride along, the views are great. We may see eagle’s soaring on the thermals and antelope in the distance.

Day Seven:   We ride from the house today.  Our destination is Ten Sleep.  We will take the scenic route.  There is some great country right across the ‘street’ and we will explore it.  After riding through some grassy hills and meadows, we will ride through some juniper trees and suddenly, find ourselves on top of a big red cliff, part of a hidden canyon.  On we ride,  to the top of yet bigger red cliffs.  There is a view across the valley, below, of the Big Horns.  Then we ride along the old “dump” road.  This winding red dirt road has great places to make some fast tracks.  There are old wagon ruts in the road in a couple places, from the pioneers.  The road ends at the dump.  Then it is only a mile or so to town.  Time to hit the saloon, or, if you prefer, the soda fountain, which has great ice-cream.

The last night is usually a good night with toast all around with days in the saddle recounted and plans for the future discussed under the canopy of sparkling, bright stars above.

Day Eight:  Time to pack up and head to the airport.  You will have spent a good week, helping out and just plain fun riding.  Heck, it can’t help but make you a better rider!  You should be ‘walking like a cowboy’, by now.  You put on a lot of horseback miles that most people only dream of.  Most riders leave with a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction, knowing they did a special ride.  After the ’Renegade Experience”  other places are just pony rides.






Included are all meals at the house and camps, including a complimentary glass of wine at supper.  Horses and tack are included.  Not included is lunch the day of arrival and any alcohol or soda you may wish to have.


*Please note that routes or itineraries may vary due to unforeseen events or circumstances.  This can include storms, which make roads or trails impassible or flash floods.  The exact order of each day may be changed.  For instance we may brand the colts before we trail the cows- daily descriptions are only a rough idea.  You must always be flexible when working with ranchers, cows and mother nature!





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