Bucket List Experiences For The Cowboy/Cowgirl at Heart

When you spend all week in front of the computer, it’s easy to let your thoughts drift to greener pastures. But don’t confine yourself to daydreaming—saddle up for these bucket list experiences for the cowboy/cowgirl at heart!

Riding Into History {Cattle Drive}

Dana Kerns’ family homesteaded in north-central Wyoming in 1887, and the following year started trailing cattle to the Bighorn Mountains for summer grass. These days, Double Rafter Cattle Drives takes you in his ancestors’ hoofsteps, starting at an elevation of 4,500 feet and ending up at 9,000 feet during five weeklong trips, the first of which begins in late June, the last in late September.

This is real cowboying, without the cozy comforts of a dude ranch. Days start early, meals are served out of cast-iron Dutch ovens, and hard-won sleep comes in a tent.

“This isn’t a nose-to-tail adventure,” Kerns says. “The herd travels about 50 miles, but you’re going to ride, rain or shine, three to five times that far on horseback.”

Kerns’ stable includes about 50 horses that are sure-footed in the rugged terrain, and riders are matched to a mount suitable to their experience level, from beginner to expert. You’re welcome to bring your own tack, but they don’t encourage bringing your own horse because of the unique physical demands of the trip.

A cattle drive is the ultimate in being unplugged, with no electricity at any time during the week. “The bells and whistles that make you jump all week long, they’re gone,” Kerns says. “It’s a way of life our forefathers went through 100 years ago, and you’ll get a new appreciation for Mother Nature, not to mention a huge sense of self fulfillment.”


Taking The Bull By The Horns {Bull Riding}

Does your bucket list include being on top of a bucking bull—or dodging in front of one? Sankey Rodeo Schools has you covered either way.

If your aspirations include the former, the Bull Riding Vision Quest Adventure is for you. Before you ever step into the chute, manually operated training units teach the fundamentals of riding and dismount. “We go over safety considerations, how to select equipment, conditioning, and other elements of bull riding,” says owner Lyle Sankey, one of only four men ever to have qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in bareback, saddle bronc, and bull riding according to worldofrodeo.com.

“If you want to get competitive, we even talk about the business aspects.” A complete set of professional rodeo equipment is supplied for each aspiring bull rider to use during the clinics, and you have the option of purchasing a video of your ride at the end of the day.

Sankey Rodeo Schools doesn’t have upper or lower age limits, focusing instead on matching the quality and caliber of livestock with the student’s age, experience, physical condition, athletic ability and ambition as closely as possible.

“We had a guy give his 61-year-old wife a bull riding adventure experience as an anniversary present,” Sankey says. “She was a hoot and had a great time.”


Not Clowning Around {Rodeo Clown}

When it comes to being in front of bulls rather than on top of them, Sankey makes a distinction. The traditional “rodeo clown” is defined as someone doing comedy or specialty acts between rides and doesn’t have direct contact with the bulls. A bullfighter is oriented toward protecting cowboys after they dismount. “They used to overlap, but now people tend to specialize,” he says. “We train both types, but most people want to do bullfighting, since it’s the big thing on TV, whereas being a traditional clown is more of an entertainment career ambition.”

In general, today’s bullfighter is dressed in protective athletic attire, although you’ll still see some in clown garb. “It’s very much like any other sports camp,” Sankey says of the sessions, which, like bull riding, are usually held for three days at a variety of locations around the country. “There are training aids, mechanical aids, videotaping and arena work with a live animal suitable for your age, athletic ability and goals. As a bucket list thing, we will plug you into your capabilities, we don’t want you in over your head—we want it to be a fun experience.”


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