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Bison & Cattle Ranch

Themed Weeks

2023 Themed Weeks

Sandhill Crane Photography Workshop
March 10-12, March 24-26
Cost: $995 for a two-night stay for two people. Rates include lodging, meals, a guided tour of the nearby Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, and a guided tour of the Medano side of the ranch.

Spend the weekend exploring the San Luis Valley during the spectacular migration of Sandhill Cranes. Package includes a guided tour of the nearby wildlife refuge with a local naturalist, and a tour of the Medano side of the ranch, where you may see cranes mingling amongst our conservation bison herd.

Sandhill Cranes:
One of the oldest species of birds still living, the Sandhill Crane undertakes an epic migration every spring and fall between their wintering grounds in Mexico and the American Southwest and breeding grounds throughout the Rocky Mountains, Canada, Alaska, and even across the sea to Siberia. With an unmistakable call that can be heard from miles away, the Rocky Mountain population of these beautiful birds converges every March in Colorado’s San Luis Valley for several weeks. Enormous groups of cranes, numbering in the tens of thousands, create one of the most remarkable wildlife spectacles in North America.

This special weekend at the Zapata Ranch includes a guided tour with a local naturalist to the nearby Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge, plus exclusive access to the Medano side of our ranch, where you might see cranes mingling and grazing amongst our conservation bison herd. The breathtaking sight of these two species together brings to mind a pre-human era when both of these animals would have roamed North America together.

True West Horsemanship Clinic with Ben Longwell
April 2-7
$3085 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.

‘On The Trail’ Horsemanship. An in-depth study of equine communication and how to become an effective leader for your horse.
Participants will gain a thorough understanding of the progression from groundwork to ridden work, not only in the arena but in circumstances on the trail. There will be a focus on understanding the “why”, “when”, and “how” behind the “what” that is commonly taught in horsemanship clinics. Participants will be prepared with improved understanding and practice with the horse before facing a variety of practical, real-life scenarios. We will be addressing common situations riders face, working to improve communication on all levels with feel, understanding, trust and in an encouraging and fun environment.

About Ben Longwell:
Ben Longwell grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado, riding horses and working cattle. After finishing school, he spent much of his time doing day work for different ranches & outfits in the area, learning from the skills and experience of the ranchers. He also spent a year working as assistant trainer at a Quarter Horse breeder in Colorado learning the basics of colt starting and true horsemanship.

After spending much of the next six years in the colt starting & horse training business, his knowledge and experience continued to expand. During this time Ben worked on a 300,000 acre cattle & horse ranch in Wyoming, where he was also involved in conducting horsemanship clinics and demonstrations.

Ben has worked with some great horsemen in the West, adding to a lifetime of practical equine experience. He is influenced from the methods of such horseman as Tom & Bill Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Richard Caldwell, Jeff Sanders, Martin Black, Buck Brannaman, Dave Weaver and others.

Horse Anatomy Bootcamp
April 16-21
$3280 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.

This novel course focuses on the anatomy of the horse. Activities include drawing and sculpting from live horses and studio time with in-depth studies on skeletal and muscle structure and horse movement. The course includes demonstrations, critiques, some riding time, and photo opportunities.

Yoga and Horseback Retreat
April 30 - May 7
$3885 per person includes all lodging, activities, instruction, and meals. Taxes and gratuity not included.

Connect to yourself and your horse through the practice of yoga led by Tammy Pate.

Tammy’s retreats are designed to bring awareness of mental and physical balance through yoga practice and above all, gain confidence and improve your horsemanship. Everything you will do at the retreat is designed to gently bring about the inner balance that improves your ability to bond with and communicate with horses.

You will learn: how to increase your Inner Balance through yoga practice; how to be in the proper frame of mind before working with your horse; how to be aware of your physical and mental state before working with your horse; a situational approach to riding safely in the wilderness; the behavioral aspects of horse training; and gain confidence through self work in yoga, horsemanship lessons and positive experiences riding horseback in nature.

Women, Horses, and the West
May 21-28
$3745 per person includes all lodging, meals, and activities. Gratuity and tax not included.

Professor Dr. Bonney MacDonald will lead a literary workshop on the theme of Wide Open Space: The Great Plains, Prairies, and Big Valleys of the West.

This year’s readings focus on living in, traveling over, and reflecting on the wide open spaces between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River Valley. You'll discuss how these varied plains, prairies, and big valleys have been seen in the past, and how they are portrayed in 20th- and 21st-century fiction and non-fiction. Authors may include Walter Prescott Webb, Willa Cather, Ivan Doig, Conrad Richter, Ian Frazier, Sanora Babb, Mary Clearman Blew, Laura Pritchett, Annie Proulx, and others.

About Bonney MacDonald:
Bonney MacDonald is a Professor of Western Literature at West Texas A&M University. She holds an M.A. from Univ. of Nottingham, England, a Ph.D. from Yale University, and has conducted on-site ranch retreats and classes since 2004.
Her workshops combine the best things you remember about college seminars with great horses, friendship, and the wonderful Western outdoors.

Horsemanship Workshop with Cam Schryver
July 30 - August 6: Beginner
$3885 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.
This workshop is meant for beginner to advanced beginner riders who are comfortable on a horse, have some basic horsemanship skills, are comfortable at three paces, and are looking to further further develop their horsemanship skills with expert guidance.

August 6 - 13: Intermediate
$3885 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.
This workshop is for intermediate to advanced riders who ride regularly, are very comfortable on a horse, have good balance, are very comfortable at three paces, and are capable of long trots and more technical movements.
Cam is two-time World Champion Extreme Cowboy and all those that have had the pleasure of riding with him know that his teaching methods are clear, practical, and above all, fun. By applying working ranch horsemanship and riding by feel, you will leave the week feeling a deeper connection to the horse and will better understand how to communicate, developing a better handle. The days are spent with one-on-one horsemanship instruction, educational demonstrations and using the landscape as your arena. Spend the evenings around the dinner table discussing the day’s experiences or head to bed after an accomplished day. This is our seventh
year doing this workshop and it’s one of our most popular weeks.
Cost: $3,150 per person per week, includes all meals, accommodation and instruction.

Harvest Weekend
September 22-24, September 29 - October 1
$995 includes lodging, meals, a bison tour, and guided hike for two nights for up to two people. $200 per additional guest per room.

Join us for a weekend of fine dining, highlighting the summer harvest of farmers and ranchers in the surrounding San Luis Valley.
The dining experience at the Zapata is second-to-none. Using local produce and meats, including bison from the ranch’s herd, our chefs craft an unforgettable and uncommon take on traditional comfort foods with a modern twist. With dishes like bison tenderloin, wild caught trout from the Arkansas River just a few miles away, and herb roasted carrots from local farmers cooked over wood grown on the property, our kitchen provides an organic encounter to cuisine seldom displayed elsewhere.

This special weekend provides a deeper experience of the Zapata’s remarkable food program. Learn more about the local production of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat–including the conservation bison raised on the ranch–that will be served at each meal on the Lodge lawn. In addition to a guided hike on Saturday, you can explore the ranch, the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and the surrounding area at your leisure.

The majority of produce featured on the Zapata’s menu is supplied by Valley Roots Food Hub, a non-profit, grassroots program headquartered in Mosca, Colorado. Over 65 independent, regenerative-soil farmers contribute their harvests to the program, with offerings including microgreens, fruit, goat cheese, Amish-raised eggs, pork, beans, quinoa, corn, polenta, elk, yak, beef, and sunflower and safflower oil.

Advanced Painting Horses With Jill Soukup
September 24 - 29
$3280 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.

Join renowned artist Jill Soukup for the ninth year of her workshop focusing on drawing and painting horses.
Draw, sculpt, and paint the horses of Zapata Ranch with the guidance of Jill Soukup, the acclaimed Western artist who specializes in equine paintings. Discussions and exercises will cover the importance of understanding equine anatomy, what makes a good drawing, composition and color. Activities will include photo opportunities of horses running, horses working under saddle, cowboys and cowgirls riding and studying corralled horses, demonstrations and critiques. Space is limited to 12. Intermediate to advanced skill level is suggested.

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Bison and Cattle Working Ranch in Colorado
Tour Code: WRCO01
8 days / 7 nights ~$3,500.00
Dates: March-October, custom dates possible with 3+ nights

Difficulty : Riding Level (Click for legend) Lodging: Standard
Day to Day Itinerary
Rates | Dates
Themed Weeks
Tack: Western
Horses: Quarter, Paint
Pace: All paces, riding from 4 to 10 hours a...
Walk, Trot, Canter,
Airport: San Luis Valley Regional Airport (ALS)
Location on Google Map
Image Gallery
Image Slide Show
Customer Trip Rating
What To Bring

Riding Level Explained
A Beginner
Beginner A rider who has limited experience, is unable to post the trot and does not canter.
B Novice
Novice A rider who is capable of mounting and dismounting unassisted, capable of applying basic aids, comfortable and in control at the walk, moderate length posting trots, and short canters.
C Intermediate
Intermediate A rider who has a firm seat, is confident and in control at all paces (including posting trots, two point canters and gallops), but does not ride regularly.
D Strong Intermediate
Strong Intermediate An intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly and is comfortable in the saddle for at least 6 hours per day.
E Advanced
All of the above, plus an independent seat, soft hands, and capable of handling a spirited horse in open country.
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