Picture this: you’re sitting atop a beautiful black horse, galloping through a meadow at the foot of Wyoming’s Snowy Range. The sun is setting, and the sky morphs quickly, from blue to orange to pink to lavender. You pull on your horse’s reins to stop and take in the last of the sun sinking below the signature Brush Creek Ranch rock, soaking in the peace of the twilight. Finally, you wipe the sweat from your brow, and turn back towards the barn so you can get back to your cabin in time for dinner.
Meet Lead Wrangler Shae Barkhurst, the woman who will make this scene a reality for the guests of Brush Creek Ranch—even those with no prior riding experience.
“I’ve competed in rodeos since I was five or six years old,” said Barkhurst. “I’ve ridden as long as I have walked.” Barkhurst, who grew up as the fourth generation on her family’s ranch, is intimately familiar with Brush Creek Ranch and the surrounding area. She won several state titles while competing in Wyoming rodeo competitions, and was the state’s roping champion in the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association.
Barkhurst’s day as a wrangler starts before the sun has come up and ends long after the sun has gone down. Generally, Barkhurst and her fellow wranglers saddle 30 or more horses during peak season, each being groomed and cared for individually. At the end of the day, each horse needs to be unsaddled and turned out for the night. But Barkhurst is fine with the long hours; she loves the horses and even though it requires a lot of hard work, it is very rewarding. She doesn’t believe in the cookie cutter model of guest experiences; she is firm believer in providing individualized experiences in an authentic ranch atmosphere.
“My goal at Brush Creek Ranch is to make every guest feel like they are the only person for many miles, making it a special experience from the beginner, who has never touched a horse and is scared to no end, to the person who has ridden numerous times,” said Barkhurst. “I take the extra step whether it’s spending an extra hour with the person who is scared to death just to make them realize that every horse we have here is a gentle giant and that they can overcome any fear. I can make special events at the ranch even more special. For example, we do champagne toasts at sunset after riding to the highest peak on the property. We love when a small child can create a bond with Sally and Eeyore, our miniature horses, then take the next step of making a regular horse their friend for life. These are the moments why guests come back year after year.”
With an undeniable passion for the ranch and her job as a wrangler, Barkhurst loves interacting with guests. When she first meets a guest, she has a pretty good idea of their ability level. Based on the guest’s riding ability and their personal preferences, Barkhurst is able to individualize the ride for each guest from young to old or beginner to experienced riders, so they can experience the beauty of the 15,000 acres the Ranch offers.
“Our wrangler team has the talent and ability to offer private instruction in horsemanship, area events, and general equine knowledge,” said Barkhurst. “Our team consists of a select group who each has a strong talent in various areas ranging from doctoring the animals on the range, to arena events at the professional rodeo level. We are lucky to have such outstanding people on our Wrangler Team.”
What’s Barkhurst’s favorite memory from her time on the ranch? “Watching the first time a child rides—how they try to be brave and not let anyone know that they are really not too sure about this furry friend they are making,” said Barkhurst. “But, by the end of the day, that same kid is kissing his horse on the nose and begging to learn new tricks. Those are the moments that keep families coming back to Brush Creek Ranch summer after summer.”
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