Wranglers do all kinds of work with horses. They work as grooms, caring for horses in their stables, saddling and unsaddling, and washing and brushing. They feed the horses hay and grain and give them plenty of water to drink. They shovel manure from stalls, organize tackle like saddles and bridles, and maintain horses’ living areas, whether it's the ring, the barn, or an open field surrounded by fencing.
Wranglers also train horses. They work with them to make sure they'll do their job. This involves riding them every day, teaching them to be comfortable with a saddle, and teaching them how to walk, trot, canter, gallop, and stop on command. This is difficult work, especially with young horses!
Some wranglers lead organized pack trips into wilderness areas. They usually work for companies that specialize in outdoor adventures. They pack saddlebags with food and camping gear and load them onto the horses. Then they introduce their clients to their horses, teach them how to steer and stop if they're new to riding, and head for the hills. While on the trip the wranglers are not only responsible for the horses, but they also have to take care of their clients' needs—sometimes including setting up camp and cooking.
Other wranglers lead shorter trips called trail rides. These trips are many people's first experience with horses. As a wrangler leading a trail ride, you have to be able to control several horses at once. If your clients have never ridden before, they're relying on you to make sure they're safe for the entire trip. Often trails are rough and rocky, difficult to manage on foot, never mind on a horse! As a wrangler, you have to lead the way.
Wranglers employed at working ranches use their horses to round up cattle, sheep, and other horses. They usually work with a partner and sometimes specially trained dogs to team up and herd the animals in one direction. This is necessary when it's time to move a herd of cattle from one field to the next, or bring sheep in for shearing. Wranglers on ranches also ride around the perimeter of the property to check fencing. When they find a broken rail or post they stop and repair it.
Whatever job a wrangler does, you can be sure it involves a whole lot of hard work. Horses get sweaty, dirty, and dusty, and it's the wrangler's job to clean them. The weather gets finicky—the wrangler works rain or shine. Customers ask questions and need instruction—it's the wrangler's job to help them. Sound like fun? Grab a hat and a pair of cowboy boots and give it a try!
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