Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Zzzzzz.
That sound you hear is that of time passing by and of you, worn out by the daily grind and put to sleep by the notion of yet another "stay-cation" spent at home catching up on chores. Is that going to put snapshots in your scrapbook or be something the kids remember fondly for life? Not likely!
Before another year gets away with no getaway, why not rekindle life's fun factor by going on a vacation trip based on your love for horses? There are lots of ways to make that happen and plenty of price-point options.
As proof, we rounded up details on 50 great escapes that range from across the country and around the world to just down the road a piece. Tip: Many of the vacations presented here will allow you to bring your own horse, so if that interests you, be sure to inquire about it when you find a listing that sounds like it's up your alley.
With eight categories to pick from in this article and multiple locales named within each, you can go on 50 vicarious vacations right now. Send us a postcard from the one you pick!
Cattle Drive/Cowboy Work
Help real ranch hands drive and sort cattle, plus perform other ranch chores. Don't forget to bring your chaps.
Appeal: If you've always wanted to cowboy up, here's your chance to try your hand at traditional ranch chores—up to and including cattle drives—on veteran, well-behaved cow ponies. Tip: Inquire about seasonal opportunities; cattle drives typically take place in the spring and fall.
Offered by: McGinnis Meadows Cattle & Guest Ranch in Libby, northwest Montana. Polish your skills with Buck Brannaman-influenced horsemanship coaching, then practice cattle sorting, cutting, and ranch penning on talented horses. You can also ride trails, plus help with colt gentling in the spring.
More info: mmgranch.net; (406) 293-5000.
CALIFORNIA. Hunewill Guest Ranch, Bridgeport. Try the Big Fall Cattle Gather; the Hunewill (pronounced "honeywell") was established in 1861 by Napoleon Bonaparte Hunewill. hunewillranch.com; (760) 932-7710.
COLORADO. Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch, Loveland. Learn about low-impact rotational grazing as you help ranch hands move and work Red Saler cows and calves. sylvandale.com; (877) 667-3999.
MISSOURI. RS Ranch Gaited Getaways, Bourbon. Ride one of the ranch's Missouri Fox Trotters or bring your own horse to help out on a 500-acre ranch that still uses draft horses to perform heavy work. rsranchtrailrides.com; (573) 732-4590.
OHIO. Smoke Rise Ranch, Glouster. Participate in cattle drives, team penning, cutting, and guided trail rides, plus enjoy pool parties, music, and dancing deep in the Hocking Hills. smokeriseranch.com; (800) 292-1732.
TEXAS. Running-R Guest Ranch, Bandera. Play cowhand in the Texas Hill Country; the Running-R adjoins a 5,500-acre state natural area with over 40 miles of trails. rrranch.com; (830) 796-3984.
Resort Luxury With Horses
Pamper yourself at a handsome facility offering multiple actives, deluxe accommodations, and fine dining.
Appeal: Vacation at a multi-purpose resort, and the non- riding members of your family will have plenty to do, such as fish, swim, play golf, go touring—or spend a relaxing after- noon at the spa. Tip: Be prepared to open your wallet; resorts, especially the most luxurious ones, can be pricey.
Offered by: Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa, Lajitas, Texas. This full-service resort's equestrian center offers riding lessons and trail rides through the desert mountains bordering Mexico. Its extracurricular activities include 18-hole championship golf; fossil explorations and bird-watching expeditions; and historical tours of Lajitas, where Comanche Indians and Pancho Villa once roamed.
More info: lajitasgolfresort.com; (432) 424-5000.
ARIZONA. Rancho de los Caballeros, Wickenburg. Ride all week and never see the same trail twice, or try your hand at team penning; other activities include tennis, golf, and trap/ skeet shooting. sunc.com; (928) 684-5484.
CALIFORNIA. Alisal Guest Ranch, Solvang. Trail ride over 10,000 acres in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, or play golf on a course designed in 1956 by the legendary Billy Bell, Jr. alisal.com; (805) 688-4215.
COLORADO. Devil's Thumb Ranch, Tabernash. Explore trails on 5,000 acres of privately owned wilderness, then luxuriate at the nature-based spa and in a lavish private cabin or cozy lodge room. devilsthumbranch.com; (800) 933-4339. NEW YORK. Rocking Horse Ranch, Highland. Ride with confidence on a trail ride matched to your ability; kids will love the indoor water park—with 250-foot water slide. rhranch.com; (800) 647-2624.
NORTH CAROLINA. Pisgah View Ranch, Candler. See the Blue Ridge Mountains on horseback, mountain bike, or foot; enjoy nightly entertainment and games from horseshoes to volleyball. pisgahviewranch.net; (866) 252-8361.
WYOMING. Red Reflet Guest Ranch, Ten Sleep. Help with the working-ranch chores or ride out on the range, then retreat to a deluxe chalet with private hot tub and stocked wine cooler. red-reflet-ranch.net; (866) 766-2340.