The job of a Dude Wrangler is to act as a horseback guide for guests on a dude ranch. It’s hard work with long hours, requiring lots of specialized skill and physical stamina. But what separates the great Dude Wranglers from the rest?
Obviously, horsemanship is key. A Dude Wrangler should have plenty of experience riding and caring for horses, but that’s not all. Dude Wranglers need to approach their job with a teacher’s heart. Many guests are novices who will need to learn the basics from a knowledgeable, helpful guide. Guests will want to know about their horses, the terrain, historical and scientific facts about the land, and just about anything else you can imagine asking about! Guides need to be willing and able to field these questions.
An effective guide also needs to be able to keep up with all the details of a ride. Terrain, weather, schedules, guest preferences, and more all have a major impact on the satisfaction of guests and the success of the excursion.
Physical fitness is another factor that plays into the performance of a Dude Wrangler. Long days outdoors, sustained physical activity, and potential emergencies all contribute to physical exertion that can leave guides worn out if they aren’t in good riding condition.
But the most important features of a great Dude Wrangler may be in soft skills. For many wranglers, patience with horses is no problem, but guests are less predictable. Guests on a dude ranch have varying levels of experience on horseback and different expectations. Great Dude Wranglers can set expectations, answer questions, give pointers (repeatedly), and do it all with a smile on their face.
Guides with patience can reach even greater heights with a good sense of humor. With humor, a Dude Wrangler can keep things light, ease a tense situation, or calm the nerves of new riders. Guests are customers too, so sometimes wranglers may be expected to address concerns with guests and maintain strong communication with other ranch staff.
Finding a great Dude Wrangler means identifying these specialized skills and people skills in the same individual, and putting them in a position to provide unforgettable horseback rides for guests. Though it’s a rare kind of person who can juggle all the tasks of a Dude Wrangler and remain a steady, calm guide for guests, the resulting guest experiences are well worth the search.
Whether you’re a guest or an operator of a dude ranch, find a Dude Wrangler with strong horsemanship, attention to detail, physical fitness, patience, humor, and communication skills.