When did you first start travelling to Vista Verde and how many years have you now been going?
I first went to Vista Verde when I was 10 years old with my family. I had been luckily enough to visit many other ranches but when I was 18 years old my dad said I could choose whether to go to a new ranch or back to one we had been before, and straight away I said I wanted to go back to Vista Verde – so much so I ended up working there!
Realising I couldn’t be a full-time wrangler, however, I came back to the UK and trained as a teacher – which is where I still am and love my job. I now visit the ranch annually by myself – as a solo traveller. People’s knee-jerk response to hearing this is “You’re so brave” – which I always find funny as at Vista Verde it is like home to me. You are only brave or courageous when you are afraid of something but still do it anyway. Vista Verde have always made me feel like part of the family and you are never afraid when you are travelling home – I am now on my 21st visit and have my own horse, which I ride every year.
What makes the place so special?
Apart from getting to see beautiful scenery every day and breathe in the mountain air, it is the staff that makes it so special. From the minute you arrive you are made to feel part of the Vista Verde family – a family I am reluctant to leave by the end of the week. The staff are amazing and because you get to interact, not just through the guided activities but at other times including lunches and dinners, you get to know them and they get to know you, from the housekeeping team to the wranglers – they are my friends and I miss them when I leave.
Even if you don’t want to ride a horse there are so many other activities that you can do, which makes it very versatile. However, for me what makes it special is the horse program and the amazing horses they have. They are so well trained and good at doing their job and can take everyone from beginners to advanced. Even though you only get to ride them for a short time they will become your best friend by the end of the week.
For me Vista Verde is the one place where I can truly switch off from my job, which I love but can be very stressful at times. Covid has put extra stresses on us all, but I really felt sadness at not being able to travel to Vista Verde during this time. It’s everything – from staying in cosy cabins, to eating delicious food to joining amazing trails on either horse, bike or by foot. For me it is my one chance a year to forget the outside world for a week.