No doubt, our February 2007 feature about Three Bars Guest & Cattle Ranch in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, "A Canadian Horseback Adventure With Options"appeals to many in search of the perfect riding vacation. However, wrangling the perfect summer job at such a ranch often holds a certain amount of appeal, as well.
Here are some tips from Tyler Beckley, who manages the guest-ranch portion of the family business, which also includes a cattle operation and a reining-horse training facility that he, parents April and Jeff and his brother, Jesse, own and operate. Bear in mind that although there are Canadian restrictions on employing American nationals, and vice versa, guest ranchers throughout North America often share common ground in regard to the wranglers they're seeking to hire for the coming summer season.
In 2006, Three Bars counted eight wranglers among its employees. According to Tyler, "Wranglers aren't just at the horse barn here. They pretty much help do everything, from raft trips to bartending to taking out rides, but other staff takes care of the cabins and kitchen."
As for the primary job requirement for wrangling ranch guests, Tyler said, "Applicants must have horse skills for me to hire them. I don't have time to teach people how to ride. But I can teach them everything else-the rafting, skeet shooting, whatever."
Unfortunately, job applicants often are culled because, no matter how much they like horses, they lack the requisite riding experience. Wranglers don't just have to be able to ride, Tyler explained. "They must ride better than our guests. The wranglers must be able to see something about to happen with a horse before it happens, and that requires a lot of experience. There is no substitute-you can't read a book and get that.
"I don't care what riding discipline your experience is in, or what you do with horses, just as long as you know horses, their mannerisms and that kind of thing, because I can't teach or show you that,"he said.
If an applicant seems to have the necessary horse skills, Tyler then schedules an interview to evaluate how capable the individual is in dealing with other people. Safety's always an issue for the wrangler guiding guests along the trail, and it's sometimes draining to ensure their safety and remain pleasant and polite at the same time.
"Wranglers are relatively young, college-age people who have to shoulder a lot of responsibility,"Tyler continued. "They must have their heads on straight, too, because they often deal with very successful people-doctors, lawyers, business owners and CEOs. So a wrangler must be able to converse with those guests, yet keep them safe on a daily basis."
Because the perfect applicant for a wrangler position demands a unique, yet high-energy person, young people often successfully land summer jobs at a guest ranch. Older wranglers on the ranch staff have worked out well, according to Tyler, although the long days can be difficult for them.
"It's like I always tell my wranglers: We don't necessarily work that hard-we just work all the time," Tyler said. "The things they do aren't incredibly physically taxing, but wranglers do spend a lot of time just waiting on people, and that's mentally and physically draining."