My Texan adventure: Dixie Dude Ranch

Posted on November 22, 2011


Warning: I had so much fun here that this post may get a little over excited.

After a crazy few months both work and personally I wanted to get away and do something different for a few days, somewhere that I could be outside most of the time and ideally doing something physical. I had a friend in Dallas. There are ranches in Texas. The sun usually shines. Sold.

I found Dixie Dude Ranch online and it came highly recommended by a variety of online sources. More so than any other ranch I found. So I booked. It’s a 45minute drive from San Antonio, 2hours from Austin and 5.5 hours from Dallas (down route 281 via cute cowboy town Hico and a nicer drive, if a bit longer, than I-35).

The Ranch

They say it’s home away from home and it really is. The cabins are comfy and rustic, but not super stylish, which give it a more authentic feel whilst still providing a hot shower and comfy bed after a day of riding. The staff are all friendly and can’t do enough for you. This includes personalised itineraries and a variety of activities depending on how people feel each day. There were between 4 and 10 people each night I was there and split into riders and beginners which gave the advanced folk more chance to learn new tricks. Mine included
– learning how to lasso (perhaps I should say trying – I could just about lasso a metal calf from 6feet away)
– riding Western (surprisingly different to English);
– riding a long horn steer (I never imagined that one day I would be riding an over sized cow with a saddle being led by a cowboy but the experience was wholly entertaining)
– barrel racing (going around barrels as quickly as you can on horseback, sometimes with added challenges such as touching the barrel or going twice around)
– standing on a horse (it’s more difficult than I looks and a long way down)

Usually there are two rides per day. As it wasn’t busy I usually got three rides and was able to mix up between treks and arena. The ranch is on a good sized piece of land and the rides are just heaven outside in the Texas hills. The horses are all healthy with lovely temperaments which makes a huge difference and is rarer than yo would think. On day two I discovered a horse called Junior, usually used for the Wranglers rather than guests but Thomas, my wrangler for the week, was gracious enough to give him up as long as I promised not to take him with me when I left (I admit that the thought had crossed my mind).
The food was abundant. So much so that they really should carry a health warning. I gained several extra pounds during my stay!

The Town

The town, Bandera, is relatively small and set up to locals and tourists alike. As part of my whole ranching/cowboy experience I wanted to get cowboy boots (riding in trainers wasn’t quite doing it for me). I was directed to the Cowboy Store (yes, that’s the actual shop name) where I found some fantastic boots plus a couple of pairs of Wrangler riding jeans, all for the bargain price of $185 (good boots can often be $200-$300 a pair I discover later) I think I got lucky. The boots were so utterly comfortable, and so widely worn that they stayed on for 7 days and only removed for sleeping purposes. Now I felt like a real cowgirl.

The Nightlife

Nightlife isn’t abundant here (not that surprising) but one night Thomas  and the team invited us to join them at the 11th Street Cowboy bar.

Texas two steppin’ with cowboys? Of course I was  in! Him and his lovely lady, Molly, took me under their wing. They found me several good dancing partners, unfortunately mostly over the age of 60. I was regaled with stories with stories of shooting deer and boar with AK47s from helicopters, and other such macho cowboy bravado. And I loved every second of it.
Molly and Thomas took us to another bar, again with live music, and a marginally younger, more mixed, crowd. By this time I had already had a few Shiner Bocks (local beer) and was having a ball. A cowboy took a shine to me and we danced the night away. He kept coming back for dances even though I was terrible at the two step. The cowboy seemed surprised when i went to say goodbye. It was only then that I learnt a cowboy rule: if you wear a cowboys hat, you are his for the night. Oops. Lesson learnt and apologies made! We ran outside to Thomas’ truck (everyone drives enormous things that are pretty much the same size as most Paris apartments)

The Contacts

I was sad to leave Dixie Dude Ranch (especially without Junior in tow) as I had had an absolute ball.  I think everyone should go here. Just email and ask Kim very nicely for a good rate. You won’t regret it.

Dixie Dude Ranch
833 Dixie Dude Ranch Road
P.O. Box 548
Bandera, Texas 78003
+1 800-375-9255 or +1 830-796-7771

Posted in: Destinations, USA