For Zion Ponderosa head wrangler Priscilla, her job is her life—and she means that in a good way. Priscilla spent her first birthday riding a horse in Wyoming, where she grew up, and has been on horseback ever since. “Even when I’m off work, I’m out riding horses,” she says.
Spending her childhood on ranches in Wyoming, Missouri and Montana, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Priscilla has centered her life around her love of horses. She’s been training horses since she was 12 and attended college for Equine Business Management. At Zion Ponderosa since 2015, “I love living and working here,” Priscilla says enthusiastically. “This will be my third season here.”
The Trail To Head Wrangler
Priscilla started out running the front desk and learning Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort from the ground up. She owns three horses, and the resort has 12. She became head wrangler last summer, and has big plans for Zion Ponderosa’s horse program.
Meaningful Experiences Beyond the Trail
It’s important to Priscilla that Zion Ponderosa guests experience more than just a trail ride. She has implemented an education program that teaches guests how to ride, to bond with the horses, and about Zion’s unique history. “I want it to be more more than an activity,” she says. “I want it to be a learning experience.”
That desire extends to staff members as well. During this year’s training, new wranglers were paired off with horses and trained together for trail rides so they could get to know each other. Priscilla also enjoys taking staff members out on rides to help them get to know the horses and each other. Her focus is on bringing people together through these amazing animals.
Meet the Horses
One of the things Priscilla loves best about horses is the individual traits and characters that are unique to their nature. “Horses all have personalities,” she says. “They’re not like an ATV. You can tell when they’re tired, when they need time off. I treat them with the same respect I give to employees.”
Zion Ponderosa’s oldest horse is 27-year-old Pepsi, who’s been at Zion Ponderosa for 12 years and is now retired. But her favorite horse is her own, a nine-year-old named Pete. “He’s my best friend,” she says. “He’s traveled to five states with me and been at every job I’ve ever had.”
Zion Ponderosa’s two-hour trail ride is Priscilla’s favorite to lead. It can be customized to be more challenging for experienced riders, or to take a more relaxed approach for those new to horseback. “I enjoy visiting with guests and fitting trails to their needs,” Priscilla says, while ensuring every guest gets an outstanding trail experience. She takes new riders on an easy trail with some of the same Zion views that more experienced riders get on the more challenging trail that goes up the back side of Pine Knoll.
What the Future Holds
Priscilla’s love for animals extends beyond horses. She’s excited about adding a small petting zoo, beginning with turkeys, chickens and two adorable goats named Miz and Tiz. She’s planning to implement a farm field day, where families can come visit the animals and learn about the ranching lifestyle.
She’ll also be bringing a new style of wagon – a six-seater that will add a unique experience to weddings and welcome trips. She also plans to expand the Dutch oven wagon rides by teaching about the mules and/or horses that pull them.
“I like to be on a personal level with both people and horses,” Priscilla says. “I am who I am.” That extends to her new role as wife to Zion Ponderosa campground manager, Kobe. The two met shortly after she began living and working at Zion Ponderosa and recently tied the knot. Priscilla looks forward to life at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, and inspiring the love of Zion in every guest.