Willow Springs western ranch educational school trips

Most of us only know cowboys and indians through western movies on TV; this , of course, leads to false representations, misunderstandings and mistakes. Therefore, at Willow Springs, we developed a few informative but in the mean time also fun and interactive formulas to erase these misconceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A. Moving west...(suitable for 6 – 12 years – duration ½ day)

 

When the guests arrive at the way station, the open fire in front of the 'lodge' (tent 1860's style) heats a pot of real 'camp coffee'. The 'small fry' assembles at the table beneath the canopy en meets the cowboy, who immediately kicks-off a 'question and answer' game. During this game, the students get an overview of the 'discovery' of America in a nutshell.

 

Finally, they arrive at their main subject: 'cowboys'. Transportation, branding and taking care of cattle, as well as the composition of and hierarchy within a ranchcrew are profoundly studied.

 

Our 'would-be pioneers' did, however, already notice the 'cow', still standing there calmly, without moving an inch.They try to make the connection between the cow and the material shown on the table underneath the canopy...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for action!!! The Willow Springs cowboy teaches his new 'crew' how to rope and let them practise this extensively on the cow. He also teaches them that, in a life or death situation, accuracy is of the utmost importance; therefore he lets his 'disciples' practice this skill using horseshoes.

 

Ready for the icing on the cake? Let's stimulate the open fire until it is really hot and let us put the branding iron in it... a couple of minutes later, our 'cow' can not deny anymore that she is ours!!! She is wearing our brand!!!

 

Next, the horses are visited. The cowboy and his visitors have a walk on the pastures among the horses and donkeys. The guest learn how to approach and treat the animals and find out how specific some horses are.

 

Suddenly, from afar, they hear the jingle of a triangle..."grub's ready". Our visitors head for the main building and get ready to enjoy one of Annie's real western hamburgers and a soda.

 

In the meantime, also the cowboy has reached the main building and he surprises the best 'roper' and the best 'horseshoe thrower' with a small souvenir of their day in the wild west.

 

Remark: Depending upon the chosen point of time, this visit can be combined with a demonstration by our shoe smith.

As a consequence, your visit with us will take a little more time.

 

 

 

 

B. Getting ready for the life of a cowboy (suitable for secondary school students – duration ½ day)

 

Of the more than 30.000 cowboys that were actif between 1860 – 1890 (the 'high days' of the trail drives), quite a lot were rather young; indeed, a lot of adolescents were sick and tired of working like a slave on their parent's farms and decided to leave home and try to find their luck as a cowboy.

 

Without any training or foreknowledge, they joined one or the other ranchcrew. The 'fortune-hunters' who arrive at Willow Springs today, are more lucky; in preparation of their life as a puncher behind a bunch of semi-savage cattle, they will receive a decent training.

While enjoying a delicious cup of 'camp coffee' at the 'lodge', the Willow Springs trailboss gives a short historical overview. Afterwards the 'greenhorns' learn how to rope, how to throw a tomahawk and a knife, how to use

bow and arrow, how to throw horseshoes and how to brand a cow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they have masterd these skills, they can further head west in all confidence. Willow Springs, however, will not forget the best 'student' in each category; he/she will receive a small souvenir of their day spent in the 'wild west'.

 

Our 'cowpunchers' are not going to leave us on an empty stomach ...a real beef hamburger and a soda will help them say goodbye to civilization and try to carve out a life as a cowboy...

 

Remark: Depending upon the chosen point of time, this visit can be combined with a demonstration by our shoe smith.

As a consequence, your visit with us will take a little more time.

C. Recovering the herd (suitable for secondary school students  – duration 1 day)

 

What is the use of knowing how to rope, how to throw and ax and a knife or how to use a bow, when, after the first "stampede" of the herd of semi-wild cattle for which you and your colleagues are responsible, you are left behind in the middle of nowhere? .... None !! ! When, on top of that, also the horses and the covered wagon are gone, the disaster is complete. Behind every corner a Native American, eager to get your scalp, can hide; rivers can be slightly too wide or too deep ...

Fortunately also for this kind of “troubles” Willow Springs has the solution. Armed with map and compass, guided by our own scout, our cowboys start off, trying to recuperate their herd, horses and gear.


Along the way they do, of course, have to escape from Native Americans, braid a "rope", make a bow and, at noon, prepare their own soup, hamburger and coffee over an open fire, ... .. in order to, eventually, let’s hope, return to the way station; our cowboys learn, in fact, the necessary skills to recuperate their lost herd in order to continue their work. as a cowboy. One thing becomes very obvious from the first “test” onwards ... no teamwork, no result.

In the way station we will, of course, test wether the homemade rope captures cows and wether the bow shoots!!! Therefore, make sure that you train these "skills" on the way and  put the best "roper" or "archer" of your team in !!! Our scout’s report will tell us which cowboy has the most survival skills; he/she will receive a souvenir.

D. Once upon a time,…before and during a trail drive…  (suitable for secondary school students – duration 2 days)

 

Just as in the "getting ready for the life of a cowboy” formula, the" greenhorns "that visit Willow Springs today, are very ambitious; they want to become a cowboy. Therefore, they also receive a decent education; After a brief historical introduction to a delicious cup of 'camp coffee', they learn some basic skills, namely "roping", 'tomahawk and knife throwing," archery " and ' horseshoe throwing". Once they have mastered these skills, they can continue their 'trek' with confidence. Willow Springs honors the "best student" per category with a souvenir for his / her participation.

 

Our cowboys are not sent to bed on an empty stomach ... a delicious barbecue (marinated porkbrochette, marinated bacon, sausage, salads, sauces and bread) should help them in saying  goodbye to civilization and in seeking new horizons...


However, after a refreshing night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, disaster strikes !!!

The herd, together with the horses and covered wagon, have left on a stampede; the cowboys will have to try to get everything back ... on foot !!!. On top of that, behind every corner a Native American, eager to get your scalp, can hide; rivers can be slightly too wide or too deep ...

Fortunately also for this kind of “troubles” Willow Springs has the solution. Armed with map and compass, guided by our own scout, our cowboys start off, trying to recuperate their herd, horses and gear.


Along the way they do, of course, have to escape from Native Americans, braid a "rope", make a bow and, at noon, prepare their own soup, hamburger and coffee over an open fire, ... .. in order to, eventually, let’s hope, return to the way station; our cowboys learn, in fact, the necessary skills to recuperate their lost herd in order to continue their work. as a cowboy. One thing becomes very obvious from the first “test” onwards ... no teamwork, no result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the way station we will, of course, test wether he homemade rope captures cows and wether the bow shoots!!! Therefore, make sure that you train these "skills" on the way and  put the best "roper" or "archer" of your team in !!! Our scout’s report will tell us which cowboy has the most survival skills; he/she will receive a souvenir.