Mornings on the Ranch
Our Give’r HQ neighbor, Jackson Hole local, photographer, interior designer, bada** outdoor woman and ranch lovin’ gal, Alexandra Munger, grew up riding horses since before she could walk. We took a trip out to her ranch to learn what it takes for her to care for her horse, Vern, through the brutal Wyoming winters and to hear the backstory of what brought her to the Wild West…
“I’ve been riding since I can remember. My mom put me on a horse when I was six MONTHS(!!) old. I even started showing horses when I was two – who knew you could do that at two?! I grew up riding and training under my mom’s trainer. It was a family tradition for us!
I grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia but rode horses an hour south of where I lived, so I’d stay at my grandparent’s house every summer. This meant waking up to ride every morning and spending time in the barn doing chores to work off some boarding.
I started showing and competing all throughout high school. It was a very dedicated sport and one of my main sports throughout my life right up there with volleyball. I took a break from riding toward the end of highschool and throughout college then got back into it once I moved out west.
I got my horse, Vern, about three and a half years ago up in Montana. My uncle bought a place there and we became really close with one of his neighbors. We were talking about horses and he explained to us that he was trying to get rid of a few of his herd. I rode a couple he thought would be a good fit and Vern was the one to get back into trail riding out west [something of the sort].
In the winter time I keep him at a place north of town and I feel super blessed to be able to keep him there. In the summer time I usually board him in a haven for horses tucked right underneath Teton Pass.
As far a daily chores go, in the winter time it’s all about feeding and keeping them warm. I feed in the mornings and at night. For water they have a heated trough system which is great so we just make sure we keep it clean. If it’s below -10 degrees, we’ll put blankets on them.
One of my dreams is to have property where I can keep one to three horses – one for me, one for Max (my husband), and one that I use for ranching. I said ranching, but I mean a “younger horse for working.” I plan to go horse shopping this spring! I don’t know if that entails selling Vern or adding one to the herd, but we’ll see. It’s really exciting but can also be a huge challenge with the stress of finding and securing housing here in Jackson.
One of my favorite spots to ride is up north by Grand Teton National Park, but my favorite adventure I’ve taken on a horse was two summers ago. I joined my mom, aunt, and uncle on a pack trip for three nights and four days in the Yellowstone backcountry. We rode 12 miles in and it was the most beautiful ride I’ve ever done. The wildness of it all was absolutely insane. It was in July so everything was green and lush. The camp was set up so we drank out of the same creek as the horses. Iit was just breathtaking, truly a different world. We rode to fish alpine lakes, cooked everything right at camp and fell asleep to wood-burning stoves in our wall tents. To get back to civilization, I rode 20 miles out with the wranglers from camp to their outfitter. We rode over the continental divide and through the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness with a pack string of 9 mules, looking back every so often to make sure the paniers were on straight and intact. Five straight hours of riding was one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever had.