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Memories Made in the Saddle

A mother and daughter experience ranch life and western traditions in Montana

There is something magical about taking in stunning, unspoiled scenery while horseback riding. Western life and tradition holds deep roots in Montana, from the cowboys that rode the open range centuries ago to the family-owned ranches operating around the state today. Western Dreams do come true in this next episode where a mother and daughter experience western traditions, rodeo and ranch life against a backdrop of green mountains and brilliant blue skies. They create memories that will last a lifetime as they cross a clear mountain river during a trail ride, feel the adrenaline of competitive rodeo, learn the western art of roping, and become part of the ranch family during their stay. Montana is waiting to bring your western dreams to life and introduce you to your #MontanaMoment in the saddle.

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In Western Dreams, Kara and Nya Shapiro experience the western tradition of theAugusta American Legion Rodeo. They watched with awe as cowboys and cowgirls compete in events of precision and skill, like barrel racing and calf roping. Sharing the thrilling moments of hopeful anticipation during the bull and saddle bronc riding, they cheer for the riders who hold their position for as many seconds as possible. Nya takes the opportunity to meet a few of the rodeo riders and learn more about the training and athleticism western rodeo events require. 

“Most memorable for me, is to have Nya be exposed to all of these strong women that are confident, that are hardworking,” reflects Kara Shapiro. “To show her that anything she wants to do, she’s able to do.”

The western experience continues with a horseback riding excursion while staying at theRocking Z Guest Ranch. Kara and Nya take in the stunning views, as their horses cross through the meandering river current and climb rolling hills with the mountains in the distance. It’s the perfect setting for fulfilling Nya’s passion for riding. The horses also feel relaxed as they move easily and responsively under the mother and daughter. While they’ve experienced this many times as ranch horses, you can almost sense equal excitement at the adventure as their ears shift forward and they walk eagerly along the route. This mutual excitement and passion for riding, western life and the outdoors is the driving force for Zack and Patty Wirth, owners of the Rocking Z Guest Ranch.

“Rocking Z Ranch is all about feeling free, in the open spaces that are here,” says Justi Vonada, ranch wrangler. “And leaving with something to always remember.”

Rocking Z Guest Ranch focuses on the beauty of natural experiences and respect for the environment where the ranch operates. You don’t have to go far during your stay to explore the untouched beauty around you. Going for a horseback excursion on the ranch’s property demonstrates the vastness of the green valleys and mountainous terrain dotted with pine forests. On the breeze, you can smell the pine and sagebrush as it carries the song of a meadowlark in the distance. It is here, as the blue sky stretches infinitely overhead, that you can truly feel the meaning of the “Last Best Place.”

“The vastness of the valley and to be able to see the big sky of Montana was remarkable,” says Kara. “It’s really important having these moments of life together.”

Kara and Nya Shapiro’s western adventures are just a few ways to discover your #MontanaMoment.  You can find yours with horseback ridingrodeos and the many ranch experiences Montana has to offer. Explore the unlimited possibilities for family fun in Montana, and make lasting memories like the Shapiros did.