Would y’all be surprised to learn that Texas is the number ONE horse state in the U.S.?
We’ve got over 1 million horses within our borders, and the primary breeding and ranching areas are in Denton County, north of Fort Worth almost to the Oklahoma border. The area is a national equine breeding and training area with over 300 large farms and ranches. Best known for the Quarter Horse, the area also turns out superior Thoroughbreds, Paints, Arabians, Appaloosas and more. Many disciplines are practiced here, including cutting, halter, roping, western pleasure, dressage and reining.
Until recently, this gem of Texas landscape was unknown to most people, but growing awareness of the area’s beauty, educational value and pure Western American heritage is making a visit to North Texas Horse Country a must-do for many travelers. And now that springtime is here, you’re bound to see a few newborn foals.
There are two great ways to experience Horse Country.
Self-Guided Driving Tour – I’m a guy who likes to get behind the wheel and hit the road, so my first time through Horse Country, I opted for the driving tour. I like the idea of deciding my own agenda, visiting the ranches that interested me and making spontaneous stops at my own whim. Maps are available online (for printed maps, stop by the Denton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau) showing the ranches along the way. Ranch owners try to accommodate visitors and ask for a “heads up” phone call if you’re planning on stopping by. However, these are real, working ranches and sometimes the owners are unable to take time to entertain guests. For example, one ranch I stopped at was experiencing a medical emergency with one of their prized stallions. The owners, ranch hands and several veterinarians were understandably more concerned with the horse than with showing me around. They apologized and invited me back another time. Other facilities did have some spare time for me and I enjoyed watching the ranchers and horses at work.
Guided Tours – The following year, I opted for the guided tour. We met in Denton and settled onto a comfortable bus. A really knowledgeable guide made the trip both educational and entertaining as we visited 3 different ranches, all of which were expecting us and had made time to show us their horses, demonstrate the work they do and divulged the inner workings of the ranch. Midway through, a nice “cowboy lunch” was served and I got to chat with folks from all over the U.S. All this for $40! It was definitely worth it. Reserve your spot through the Denton Convention & Visitor’s Bureau.
If you’re traveling in and around the Denton area and want to experience the history and heritage of the American West, be sure to include North Texas Horse Country on your agenda.