Available Now

Horsing Around

Saddle up for a day—or more—on a rollickin' dude ranch.


We’ve got him cornered. Shifting with irritation, a 325-pound steer kicks up dirt as he peers at me warily, plotting his escape. I’m atop Handy, a towering chestnut stallion with a wavy mane; my teammates, two young girls on their own trusty steeds, are helping me surround the animal. He’s crotchety and ugly—even the rest of the herd avoids him—but he’s smart. With a glance to the left, he swiftly darts behind Handy, and I feel an unexpected jolt. I’ve been head-butted by a steer.

Rasslin’ cattle, I’m learning, isn’t easy, but the folks at King Mountain Ranch, just outside of Granby, are patient. It’s my first time team-penning, a task that requires crews on horseback to maneuver steers into a pen. Professionals can wrangle them in less than a minute, but not this troop of novices. We’re bested by the crabby creature for close to half an hour before, finally, we succeed.


It’s one of a handful of activities I’m attempting during my day at the ranch. Situated on 350 acres, King Mountain is a tranquil place to relax and bring those John Wayne Westerns to life. I started my day peacefully cantering through the surrounding woods, my guide and I passing by clumps of columbines and stands of aspen rising 30 feet into the azure sky.

But tranquility isn’t all I’m aiming for. This city gal wants to be a real cowpoke for a day, and that means I need to shoot a gun. I head up a rutted, grassy path to the skeet-shooting range to try my hand at target practice. With some pointers from my instructor, I aim for the small orange disk that flies out of the machine and pull the trigger. A mild kickback jars my shoulder. Then, as if by magic, the disk explodes. I’ve hit my first target.

Now I can call myself a cowgirl.

If You Go

This article appeared in the May 2010 issue of 5280.

Daliah Singer, 5280 Contributor

Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at daliahsinger.com.

5280 Longreads

Newsletter Signup

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone. Sign Up