Sharpshooter Annie Oakley sure knew how to pack heat and entertain the fellas at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, but could she move cattle from one pasture to another or quote cowboy poetry that would make a horse stop and listen? Here are seven ways to connect with your inner cowgirl in California and beyond.
Jill Rivoli is a modern day horse whisper, and guests of Carmel Valley Ranch have the chance to hang out in a Carmel Valley pasture with Rivoli and tap into their horse sense. See what you can learn about yourself while letting your guard down and centering your cowgirl (or cowboy.) // One Old Ranch Road, Carmel
Celebrating ranching and the rural West, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering has been bringing young and old together in Elko, Nevada since 1985. Although folks have been gathering around the campfire to share stories and comradery since the stone age, Elko is the place where poetry comes to life and cowboy life comes to Nevada. // 501 Railroad Street, Elko, Nevada
This week long festival was originally started in 1924 as a way to attract tourists to Santa Barbara. Officially known as Old Spanish Days in Santa Barbara, the fiesta celebrates Spanish, Mexican and North American pioneers and their cultural heritage and traditions. From Vaqueros (rodeo cowboys) to parade participants, song and dance unique to Santa Barbara is celebrated and passed along from one generation to the next. Viva la Fiesta! Old Spanish Days events are held at various locations throughout Santa Barbara.
Coachella Valley is where country chic fashion collides with the music industry to deliver an action-packed weekend known as Stagecoach Festival. This California country music fest is about honky tonk dance, rv’s, barbeque and who has the best cowboy hat. Saddle up and prepare to rock the rhinestones and Ray Bans at this three day party. // 81-800 Avenue 51, Indio
Taking place at William S. Hart Park in Old Town Newhall, the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival gives folks a legitimate excuse to dress up as cowboys and damsels in distress. Heck, there’s even a Civil War reenactment in confederate soldiers and cannons are your preference over horses and wagons. Music lovers will appreciate the multiple stages with live performance and you absolutely must save room for a serving of peach cobbler served piping hot from a Dutch over. // William S. Hart Park Old Town, Newhall
Channel your inner Annie Oakley with two horse-centric vacations at the ultra-lux Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Montana. This Relais Chateaux sanctuary offers Women’s Rocky Mountain Rendezvous, a five night adventure exploring western Montana’s scenic offerings. This spring event shows the Bitterroot Valley at its finest with wild flowers swaying in the meadows and elk grazing on the valley floor. If logging time in the saddle is important to you, you’ll want to join Klicks for Chicks, an October all-women’s ride that’s far from an endurance ride. Instead, cowgirls will ride top-of-the-line steads out on the trail and return to chef prepared meals, fine wines and hot tubs outside your own private log cabin. Did I mention the massage therapists make house calls? A cowgirl’s gotta work out those tired calf muscles, right? // 5551 West Fork Road, Darby, Montana
If you’ve always want to track wild mustangs, but don’t consider a sighting of a horse’s tail swishing in the view finder of your binoculars a close encounter, have I got a tip for you. I guarantee you’re going to see wild mustangs and a random burro or two if you head to the Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California. Take an overnight trail ride into the Shasta Cascade wonderland and wake up to the sounds of wild horses grazing outside your cabin door. The non-profit sanctuary offer two, three and four day horseback rides. // 5796 Wilson Hill Road, Shingletown