‘New You’: Dude ranch near Bandera offers more than just roping, riding

Exercise is also part of the experience at Rancho Cortez

BANDERA, Texas – Just about 10 miles south of Bandera, Texas, known as the Cowboy Capital Of The World, sits a dude ranch nestled deep in the Hill Country.

Rancho Cortez takes you back in time and brings to life the mystique of the cowboy way -- roping, riding, and ranching.

Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy the experience.

“I mean, this is Texas,” said 14-year-old Mila Chica, who is from the Netherlands. Chica is making her second trip to Rancho Cortez “because of the horses. Because of the cowboys.”

However, this ranch is not just about reliving the past. The folks at Rancho Cortez want to make sure visitors can stay healthy for a long time by making sure they can get the exercise they want and need while spending time there.

“What we do is offer people options. A lot of people come out here for the exercise program,” said Larry Cortez, who owns the dude ranch.

Rancho Cortez offers a gym with modern workout equipment. They also have a training obstacle course that sits on a hill with a view. There is a pool for water aerobics or just relaxing.

But perhaps the most unique workout for most city slickers is a horseback riding workout session. No stirrups or reins, just working your body on the back of a horse.

“When you’re actually on the horse, you’re not really realizing we are going to use your whole body, your core, your leg muscles. And when you’re riding, and when I’m asking you guys to do is like pick up your legs. You’re really having to use your balance. And then once again, you’re using your leg muscles,” said Katherine Cortez, a certified trainer and cowgirl. When she is not training guests, she is riding in rodeos competing in barrel racing.

The idea to combine the rodeo ranch with the exercise program came from her mother. “My mom loves the fitness side,” Katherine Cortez said.

It is not only great for the visitors, but Katherine Cortez loves the different routine.

“It is such a different scene. You know, you go to the gym and it’s the same equipment, same thing same scenery,” she said. " When you come out here, it’s always something different. "

Along with the excursion comes healthy eating. Rancho Cortez has its own garden and dietician.

“We do a lot of healthy eating. Our cooks are really, really good about trying to keep everything nutrition wise,” Larry Cortez said.

Good eating, good exercising and good living, the cowboy way, all available at just one dude ranch.

About the Author

David Sears, a native San Antonian, has been at KSAT for more than 20 years.

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