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Luxe Cowgirl Yoga Review: Yoga & Horseback Riding in Montana

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Written by Horse Rookie

Learn What Luxe Cowgirl Yoga is Really Like in Our Day-by-Day Review

From the time I was a child, I’ve always tried to find opportunities to ride horses on vacation. Though only my father was typically game for these outings, my family was resigned to the fact that I could track down horses anywhere we went. As an adult, the trend has continued.

That’s how I found Big Sky Yoga Retreats LUXE Cowgirl Yoga (BSYR).

Big Sky Yoga Retreats helps big-hearted yoginis of all levels live out their big sky dreams. When it comes to combining yoga and horseback riding in Montana, this is the only vacation that has brought me back more than a dozen times… and convinced me to relocate to The Treasure State.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats offers luxury women’s yoga and horseback riding vacations in the wilds of Montana. Use Referral Code “HRcowgirlup” during registration for a special gift upon arrival!

In this article, I’ll share what attracted me to BSYR, what makes LUXE Cowgirl Yoga special, and what this retreat is really like — day by day.

 

LUXE Cowgirl Yoga in a Nutshell

If you’ve dreamed of riding horses in the Wild West, doing sun salutations to a soundtrack of bugling elk, or gaze up at a breathtaking canopy of stars in Montana’s Big Sky, LUXE Cowgirl Yoga™ is for you.

When you read those words on the Big Sky Yoga Retreats website, you’re mind will transport you to a magical place with stunning snow-capped mountains and sun-kissed horses.

Having experienced this retreat myself, I can tell you Montana is even more magical once you see it in person.

If you’re lucky, you might catch a nap with your new equine bestie.

Having now attended at least eight LUXE Cowgirl Yoga Retreats, I’ve seen for myself the power of combining yoga, horses, and inspiring women in the wilds of Montana.

LUXE Cowgirl Yoga is designed to deepen your yoga practice, balance your body, steady your mind, and explore the magical horse-human connection in and out of the saddle.

What you need to know up front:

  • You DON’T need to be an experienced yogini. Whether you’ve been practicing for decades or just bought your first mat, you’re welcomed and supported on this retreat.
  • You DON’T need to be an experienced rider. Most attendees have never swung into a saddle! Total newbies and lifelong horse lovers feel at home with the BSYR herd.
  • You DON’T have to worry about feeling alone. Traveling alone can be intimidating, but the vast majority of Cowgirl Yoginis actually arrive solo. The activities, atmosphere, and staff are designed to build community quickly so you can make new friends on day one.
  • You DON’T have to go home tired. Founder Margaret Burns Vap always says you shouldn’t need a vacation to recover from your vacation. She builds in plenty of down time, and you can participate in as many or as few activities as you like. Need alone time alone to recharge? You got it. Need social time to stay energized? No problem.
  • You DON’T have to regret investing in yourself. As women, we often feel guilty spending money on ourselves and time away from friends, family, and work. Not only is this retreat a financial bargain for the peace, friendships, and experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime, you’ll return home a better and more balanced version of yourself. That’s good for everyone.

Read Margaret’s Letter to My Younger Self to learn more about her story and how she reconnected with horses in adulthood and what they’ve taught her.

Enjoy the peace and laid-back pace of life on the ranch.

What’s included:

  • Luxury Lodging: Three nights of  luxurious accommodations at the Double T River Ranch, which features a variety of room options in the riverside cabins and main ranch house. Plus, you’ll have full run of the 115-acre ranch, which is nestled along one of the best fly fishing rivers in the country.
  • Daily Yoga Classes: You’ll enjoy daily Vinyasa and Yin yoga classes in the converted barn as you overlook Montana nature at its finest.
  • Cowgirl Yoga™ 101: Spend time in and out of the saddle as you learn about the horse-human connection, experience the magic of “join up” in the round pen, and ride around the ranch and surrounding trails.
  • Meditation & Journaling: Guided meditations and journaling exercises help you stay centered and work through life’s quandaries in a healthy and productive way.
  • Gourmet Meals & Wines: Healthy living starts with healthy eating, and the Western gourmet meals, prepared by a private chef, is full of flavor and local ingredients. Plus, you’ll get to try the finest wines from Yellowstone Cellars & Winery and local craft brews.
  • Fjord Horse Wagon Ride: Meet the adorable chauffeurs from Sunnyside Farms, who will take you for a fun wagon ride around the ranch. (Bring your wine!)
  • Wildlife Watching: See animals you never would at home, like elk, bald eagles, bears, and more.
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The Double T River Ranch is pure magic.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats offers luxury women’s yoga and horseback riding vacations in the wilds of Montana. Use Referral Code “HRcowgirlup” during registration for a special gift upon arrival!

In addition, you can opt to do a Cowgirl Yoga photo shoot with BSYR’s photographer, Larry Stanley. Get gussied up, pose with your favorite horse, and enjoy the best souvenir ever.

What This Retreat is Really Like

BSYR offers many different retreat styles, but LUXE Cowgirl Yoga is their signature retreat. Here’s what it’s like to experience this vacation day by day.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats also made our list of the 10 Best Horseback Riding Vacations in Montana.

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Every morning is a good morning in Montana.

Thursday

If you can swing it, arrive a few days early (or stay a few days after) to explore more of Montana. If that’s not possible, no worries. You can fly into Bozeman, Montana anytime Thursday morning or early afternoon.

Prepare yourself to be charmed the moment you deplane. The airport features lodge-style architecture and is super easy to navigate. Pick up your rental car, and hit the road for the ~45-minute drive East to the Double T River Ranch.

You’ll pass the quaint town of Livingston, where parts of A River Runs Through It were filmed, take in expansive mountain ranches, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

Pro Tip: If you’d rather not drive alone, the BSYR team is happy to connect you with other retreaters who want to share a rental car.

Once you arrive, the staff will show you to your room (luxury cabins or gorgeous ranch house) introduce you to your roommate if you’re sharing a room, and give you time to unpack and settle in. You’re welcome to explore the ranch at your own pace, walk over to see the horses, or relax by the pond until your first yoga class at 5pm.

Roll out your (provided) mat upstairs in the converted barn, and sink into Child’s Pose under the soaring reclaimed wood ceiling. BSYR Founder and Boss Mare, Margaret Burns Vap, will guide you through a relaxing-yet-energizing Vinyasa flow.

Click to see the horse card deck and book we use at Amazon.

After class, you’ll grab some appetizers (and wine to go!) and head down to the corral to meet the horses and wranglers.

Once you’ve stroked all the muzzles and whispered in all the ears, it’s back to the dining room for your first gourmet meal. Prepared by the private chef, all food can be adjusted to meet dietary and/or allergy needs. As you sit around the big family-style table or outside on the patio getting to know the other women and staff, you’ll be surprised how easily conversation flows.

Once your tummy is full and dessert has been cleared, you’ll meet Margaret back in the yoga loft for “orientation.” She’ll hand out goodie bags (!) full of fun local gifts, educational materials, a journal, and more.

Pro Tip: The BSYR lip balm is ah-mazing. Try the Earl Grey tea flavor!

You’ll get an overview of the weekend’s agenda, go around the circle for introductions, and select one of the beautiful horse cards from The Way of the Horse. Hold onto it for now, and consider journaling about your first impression.

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This was the first horse card I drew on a Big Sky Yoga Retreat.

Once orientation wraps up, you’re free to turn in for the night — or take a dip in the hot tub under a canopy of Big Sky stars before bed.

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Your home base for meals and yoga classes.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats offers luxury women’s yoga and horseback riding vacations in the wilds of Montana. Use Referral Code “HRcowgirlup” during registration for a special gift upon arrival!

Friday

Awaken from a deep night’s slumber to the sounds of birds chirping and horses nickering for their breakfast hay. Head to the barn loft for your morning yoga class, and enjoy moving from pose to pose at your own pace.

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Build community as your share healthy, gourmet fare.

After you’ve gotten the blood flowing, you’ll enjoy a hot buffet-style breakfast downstairs that will fuel you all morning.

Women are divided into three groups, and you’ll rotate through the following activities throughout the morning and early afternoon:

  • Grooming and groundwork: Learn how to safety interact with and groom the horses, then connect with them on a whole new level in the round pen. Moving a 1,000-pound animal using only your energy (i.e. no tack or equipment) is always a highlight of these retreats.
  • Riding lesson: Enjoy your first horse riding experience in the pasture, as you get an introduction from our experienced wranglers. You’ll ride several different horses, and the wranglers use this opportunity to decide which horse will be the best partner for your trail ride on Saturday.
  • Free time: Whether you want to explore the ranch, meditate by the pond, take a dip in the hot tub, enjoy a nap in your cabin, or watch the riding lessons or round pen sessions, you’re free to do as you please.

Most women have limited riding experience, and that’s OK!

Between your second and third sessions, you’ll break for lunch back at the barn. Share your stories with the other women, refresh and recharge, then head back out for your early afternoon activity.

You’ll also get a copy of the essay that accompanies your selected horse card from orientation. Read it over the weekend, and see how it changes your perception of the card.

By the time you reach Happy Hour and dinner, you’ll have a full day’s worth of adventures to discuss — and new friends who have been part of every moment.

dinner

Swapping stories and sharing a bottle of vino is the perfect end to the day.

After, you’ll have time to change into pajamas, refill your wine glass, and join Margaret’s Yoga Co-Instructor Caitlin for restorative yoga.

This is always a retreat highlight, and it’s one of the all-time snuggliest ways to prepare your mind and body for a wonderful night’s rest.

Big Sky Yoga Retreats offers luxury women’s yoga and horseback riding vacations in the wilds of Montana. Use Referral Code “HRcowgirlup” during registration for a special gift upon arrival!

Saturday

Be still my heart!

Early morning meditation is the perfect start to your Saturday. Meet on the pond dock or down by the horse pasture at sunrise, wrap yourself in a cozy blanket, and find your inner peace surrounded by nature.

When the breakfast is ready, you’ll emerge from your meditative trance ready for the day ahead.

Note: Your groups will stay the same as Friday, and one of them will head out early for the first trail ride of the day.

The ranch’s well-manicured trail system offers breathtaking views and a chance to further bond with your equine partner. Plus, the wranglers will entertain you with fun stories along the way. (Ask them about Lewis and Clark!)

Don’t be surprised if you find it really hard to leave.

Groups rotate between yoga classes and trail rides throughout the day (with a break for lunch, of course).

Whether you’re on your yoga mat or moving mat (i.e. horse), the retreat keeps you focused on balance — in every sense of the word.

After a break for showers and getting changed, you’ll meet back by the pond for happy hour, group pictures, and individual photo shoots (if you signed up). The horses love mugging for the camera, and you’ll enjoy doing yoga poses with your favorite equine pals.

Then, prepare yourself for cuteness overload when a pair of adorable Fjord horses from Sunnyside Farms pull into the parking lot. Your wagon has arrived! Hop inside with your friends, a glass of wine, and your camera at the ready.

Enjoy a fun-filled drive around the ranch as you chat with Wendy, the driver and Fjord breeder.

A delicious dinner follows, and you’ll spend the evening around the cabin bonfire sharing stories and soaking up your last night at the ranch.

Sunday

Awake to another beautiful day at the ranch, and take some time to start packing before heading to the loft for your final yoga class. (Don’t worry: Homemade smoothies are available beforehand!)

Our primary yoga space for the retreat.

Once you finish your last Savasana, meet back in the dining room for the Closing Circle and brunch. Everyone has an opportunity to share reflections from the weekend, including thoughts about your horse card.

(Sharing is optional, but the atmosphere is so warm and comfortable by Sunday that most women want to do so.)

Afterward, it’s time for farewells and packing up. There’s no huge rush to depart, so you can take the time you need to trade contact info with your new friends and head back to Bozeman.

If you’re flying out Sunday afternoon or evening, you’ll hopefully have time to grab a quick snack in town. If you’re leaving the next day (or even later), consider meeting up with other women staying longer for a downtown dinner. (PLONK is a favorite local meet up.)

(Optional) Monday

One of the best things about LUXE Cowgirl Yoga Retreats? They don’t have to end on Sunday!

trail-ride

If you want more horse time, sign up for the trail ride on Monday.

You can sign up for an optional all-day trail ride on the Monday following your retreat, and I highly encourage you to do it.

You’ll get to see entirely different scenery than you did at the ranch, and you’ll get an entire day of riding to cap off your vacation.

What better finale to your Montana adventure?

Love yoga and horses? Check out our 5 Best Yoga Stretches for Horse Riders.

Just Book It!

I still keep in touch with women I met on my first retreat. (Credit Larry Stanley Photography)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about LUXE Cowgirl Yoga Retreats, it’s that they’re simply never long enough.

The peace you feel, the friendships you forge, and the memories you make will leave you feeling like a new and better version of yourself.

It’s trips like this that remind you what’s truly important in life — gratitude.

Book Your LUXE Vacation

Big Sky Yoga Retreats offers luxury women’s yoga and horseback riding vacations in the wilds of Montana. Use Referral Code “HRcowgirlup” during registration for a special gift upon arrival!

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!