Updated: Jan 28
Location: Cactus Rose Ranch, Valley Mills, TX | https://thecactusroseranch.com/
Photography & Blog: Photography by Delaney | www.photographybydelaney.com
Meet the Welch Family, the faces behind Cactus Rose Ranch in Valley Mills, Texas.
Cactus Rose Ranch was established in 2018, however it's foundations were laid long before! They offer a variety of services, including western riding lessons, horse boarding, cattle and horse sales, Ranch & Pasture parties, and even sell fresh eggs and homemade bread. They are focused on expanding on tried and true farming and ranching traditions, and are passionate about using only locally sourced products either from their own ranch or from trusted partners in the area, allowing them to build a sustainable model that benefits not only their family but also their community.
Cactus Rose Ranch was founded by Dave Welch and his wife Erika, who have been blessed with 6 amazing daughters. They are a homeschool family who utilize faith-based curriculum and strive to create well-rounded students who learn from ALL aspects of the farming and ranching lifestyle, limited not only to textbook learning, but also including Bible study and church involvement, along with raising farm animals, hunting and butchering wild game, fishing, agriculture, baking, cooking, and more--really all the skills required to be self sufficient in a day and age where many of these skills are not being taught.
"We believe it is our responsibility to instill a strong work ethic in our children as part of their academic and agricultural foundation. Each one of them is given responsibilities in the home and on the ranch that are tailored to their abilities. From oldest to youngest, there’s something for everyone! "
My relationship with the Welch family stemmed from our mutual involvement at Top Hand Cowboy Church, so I have followed along as their small business has flourished, and have even photographed their extended family on their ranch in previous years!
So, when my oldest daughter was ready to start participating in an activity, I knew just what we wanted her to do, and who to get in touch with. Although my husband and I both have a history riding horses and working on farms and ranches, we currently don't have horses of our own. However, we still wanted our girls to have the same opportunities to work with horses and experience farm and ranch living. This is where Cactus Rose Ranch fills the gap!
The first class my daughter (with the rest of our family in tow) attended at Cactus Rose Ranch was the group Horsemanship Lesson. During this time, Dave worked with several different horses and led by example teaching about the basics of horsemanship, including how to approach a horse, how to read their body language, places you should avoid walking by/touching, and how to teach the horse basic commands with a combination of sounds and hand movements. It is clear how important basic horsemanship is to understand before you ever climb on and attempt to ride a horse, and Dave is sure to offer his extensive knowledge to all his students in the weekly class. Not only is he knowledgeable, but he makes it fun to follow along, interactive, and is easy to understand for all ages, from the youngest kids up to the adults in attendance as well.
After working the horses a little bit, Dave lets the class into the round pen with the horses so the students can interact with, groom, and of course feed a few apples to the horses. He continues to talk about proper horsemanship, and keeps a close eye on the students and horses to ensure everyone is staying safe--however, it is clear these horses are about as well mannered as they come. He teaches about the different kinds of brushes and how to use them, the proper way to clean their hooves, and how to feed a horse without getting your fingers nibbled on!
Now it was time for the real fun to begin...the riding lesson! Although my daughter (and myself as well if we are being honest), was so excited about the the lesson, its hard not to be just a little nervous. Doing anything for the first time can be nerve-wracking, right? Fortunately Dave has done this a time or two. In fact, Dave spent 8 years in the US Marine Corps, where he trained hundreds of students to be successful Marines. He is also in the process of raising 6 daughters (remind me to ask him which is harder!), and therefore is very well versed at working with, motivating, and teaching a variety of ages and personalities.
I know he has worked with every one of his daughters (plus many other children) through these very same situations, so I was able to trust him fully with the little girl who makes my world go around, and when she senses my trust and faith, she mirrors that. Considering she is a toddler who has never done any sort of lesson, Dave (with the help of one of his own daughters) worked with her, showing patience and understanding every step of the way.
After a few warm up laps, it was time to mount up.
He walked her through some simple exercises designed to help her get comfortable and balanced on the back of the horse. It took her a few minutes to warm up, but now she has it down pat! Well, all except for saying "woahhhh", but that is our homework!
Can't forget little sis who is eagerly awaiting her turn to be big enough to join in the fun!
All in all, I have nothing but good things to say about Dave, Erika, their girls, and the entire experience provided by Cactus Rose Ranch. Not only are they living the ranch life, but they have opened up their own home to allow others (whether you have your own horse or not), to learn from them and experience this lifestyle as well. But, more than just seeing their ranch as a business, I truly admire their decision to live out their faith and raise their girls in this lifestyle, teaching them every aspect of traditional farm & ranch life.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about all they have to offer, you can visit their website https://thecactusroseranch.com/ , follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thecactusroseranch , or you can attend their free Open House on February 4th, 2023, where they will have pony rides, hay rides, and so much more! Be sure to reach out to them and register to join in the fun!
Until next time...