Owned by German couple Irish and Ralph Kutchner, the Running-R Ranch is a small guest ranch in the Hill Country of Texas, just outside of the small town of Bandera, self-proclaimed as the Cowboy Capital of the World. We picked this ranch out of many in the Bandera area, as it takes a smaller number of guests (up to 50) and focuses on horseback riding above all else. There are big family style lunches and breakfasts. For dinner, guests are on their own to explore the town of Bandera. Just make sure to be careful driving here at night, as the area is overrun with deer.
I went on a day ride with Lou, a Welsh wrangler who rode a Quarter Horse named Sonny, and Dale, an Oklahoma steer wrestler turned Texas wrangler who rode his wonderful horse Poncho. If nothing else, experienced riders can enjoy some nice, fast gallops at the ranch.
After a big, hearty breakfast of breakfast burritos, eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade banana bread, coffee and fresh fruit, we headed over to the barn. I was able to try a couple of horses before we chose Linus. My first horse was having some issues being around Lou's horse (they must have had a tiff the night before), so I rode Linus, a young, cappuccino colored palomino Quarter Horse, who was super fast and well behaved.
We walked through the oak trees and nearby ranch trails before entering the Hill Country State Natural Area. This is a popular place to go horseback riding for many area Texans, as well as visitors. There are many miles of trails within the park, taking you through diverse terrain. We rode on trails that wound through fields of green sotol plants and tall wheat grass up and down hills. Our destination was a place Lou called Twin Peaks, where there is a great view of the surrounding area.
The weather was perfect as we climbed the hilly trails. At around 70 degrees Fahrenheit with sunny blue skies and a slight breeze, we had lucked out. This is Texas in the winter! It can be cold, as we witnessed today, our day of departure, but it can also be quite nice.
We had some wonderful gallops and canters during the rest of our ride on these trails through great open fields. The open space is what Texans love about this part of Texas and what I had come to see as well. Being on horseback here was the perfect way to see it.