***Applications are open for 2021 range riders! Deadline February 10th.***
For hardworking and humble individuals interested in learning about horsemanship, animal husbandry, low stress livestock handling techniques, wilderness living, ranch management, regenerative ranching practices, and conservation, this is the internship for you!
***Application can be found at bottom of page, but please read the job description before applying!
Alderspring is a grass-fed certified organic beef ranch in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho. The ranch headquarters consists of 1650 acres of pasture positioned in the Pahsimeroi Valley. The range, where we herd our cattle for two to four months each summer, is comprised of 70 square miles of steep and rugged rangeland accessible by dirt roads, and, when the trucks fail and the roads become trails, horseback. We have been producing grass fed beef for over 27 years, and we are passionate about raising the best nutrient dense beef possible in a way that benefits and regenerates the wild landscapes we steward.
As one of our crew members, you would be part of our project to reinvent the way we handle our cattle on the open range using a paradigm we have dubbed “Inherding.” This will be our seventh year of following this grazing paradigm.
While practicing Inherding, you will be part of a crew of 2-5 riders that live with the cattle on our remote rangeland, herding them by day and bedding them down in cow camp at night.
There are three main goals of the Inherding project:
First, protect the herd from wolves using human presence. We take a non-lethal approach and we have never had a wolf-human conflict on the range or a loss due to wolves since beginning inherding. Our presence is sufficient deterrent to prevent wolves from bothering our cattle (or us. Though you might get very lucky and spot a wolf in the distance, the chance of an interaction is low due to our presence & scent alone).
Second, with careful herding and low stress stockmanship, we avoid ecologically sensitive areas or endangered species habitats that may be damaged by cattle.
And third, we herd our beeves to non-sensitive areas with the best grass. Targeted grazing brings about increased weight gains and ultimately nutrient-dense, intensely flavorful beef for our customers.
To learn more about Inherding and see tons of pictures from the last several years on the range, check out our Instagram, @alderspring_ranch (also linked to at the bottom of this page). Especially look at the story highlights on our profile to see many videos and photos from past seasons on the range and what typical days of riding look like.
You can also check out our blog, Organic Beef Matters, to read more about what we do at the ranch and Inherding practices.
Conservation riders will be a part of a 2-5 person team that will rotate into the backcountry for 4-8 days at a time. You will be camping in remote mountain country with no modern amenities (little to no cell service and no showers, bathrooms, or electricity), but the views and clear night skies are pretty awesome.
A typical day is at least 11 hours or up to 16, and they can be long and physically and mentally grueling. You will spend these days horseback herding about 400 head of cattle with your other crew members and a few border collies. It could be one-hundred degrees and sunny, snowing, or pouring rain (or all three–in the same day… always bring a rain duster)!
Over the summer, we will cover up to 10 different cow camps and gain about 4000 feet of elevation. Camp setups are basic: a stove, propane lantern, and grill on a table serve as a kitchen. Access to drinking water is provided via a spring source or filtered creek water. Hours of sleep rarely exceed 6 hours a night; bedrolls are made on the ground in teepees or out in the open (your choice, many past crew members have preferred sleeping under the stars).
On days you are not riding and are back at the home ranch, you will have a couple days to a week off at a time to rest and recuperate from an exhausting stint on the range. Many past crew members have also opted to explore the expansive mountain country around the ranch during their time off. Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks are also not far (Glacier about 8 hours, Yellowstone 5), and some past crew members have taken a trip on their off time to visit them. There are also some amazing opportunities for hiking, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing nearby.
You will be expected to help on occasion with non-horseback work associated with the Inherding project, including but not limited to branding and weighing cattle, maintaining tack and equipment, helping with horse care and training (based on your expertise), possible rangeland monitoring, and moving camp from one location to the next. We feel that participating in all phases of the project is the best way to learn the ins and outs of what we do. That being said, most of the work you will be doing is horseback.
Applicants must be able to function in a team situation even when exhausted. They should also be able to make decisions independently without constant input from a supervisor and be prepared to adjust, as plans are constantly changing according to weather or the cattle. We always welcome questions, but if you hesitate to speak up and ask when you are unsure or want to better understand something, you might just have to figure it out on your own!
Range riders should not mind silence and should be able to keep their mind occupied and stay positive (there are often long periods of quiet while the cattle are settled and grazing) even when there is not much mental stimulation. There is no cell phone service in most of the range country. Social media addicts need not apply; this is not an opportunity to prove how cowboy you are via social media or to build your following.
But for a gritty and positive individual with a love for the mountains who finds pleasure in working with a great team, while stewarding the animals we care for, this is one of the most rewarding jobs out there. We have had many crew members from previous years come back to do it again. Typically, these individuals are hardworking, resilient people who want to learn, are not afraid to get dirty, take responsibility for their actions, and have a passion for animals and wilderness. If this sounds like you, you may be a fit.
To apply, you must:
- Be over 18 years of age (we cannot accept minors due to liability issues)
- Be currently residing in the U.S. (sorry – this year’s application is closed to international applicants due to the changing nature of COVID-19 travel restrictions)
- Be able to commit to the entire internship period (May 10th or 17th through July 31st)
- Be physically fit and able to endure long days in the saddle in varying temperatures and conditions
We are looking for someone with:
- A positive attitude and a desire to learn
- The willingness to assume responsibility for actions and mistakes
- Grit and determination
- An ability to work well on a team but think independently
- The ability to stay upbeat and focused during long periods of silence out with the cattle with no forms of modern entertainment (although you can always download a book on your phone and read it during slow moments!)
- Strong character, supportable by references
- An interest in learning about Inherding and organic & sustainable beef production, ranching, horsemanship, and stockmanship.
- A teachable and humble mindset
- A passion for land and animals
Not required: experience with horses, cattle, ranching, or higher education, though these factors will be considered. Also not required is horse gear, although personal gear including cowboy boots, rain gear, a cowboy hat, range wearable clothing and a bedroll/sleeping bag is expected. If you have a saddle you are welcome to bring it, but it will be subject to our approval prior to use (nothing personal—if a saddle doesn’t fit a horse well and is used for long hours at a time, it can permanently damage a horse’s back).
You will receive an extensive packing list if you are selected. There will be a gear check before you go out on the range to ensure you have the basic gear + clothing needed.
Rules on the ranch:
No smoking, no drinking, no drugs, and of course maintaining common area cleanliness with respect towards your fellow crew members.
We also have a “no coworkers dating” rule. If you would like to form a relationship with a fellow crew member, we ask that you wait until the internship period is over. We find that dating a coworker during the internship disrupts the camaraderie and team dynamic we try to foster.
Note: If you hope to use this experience as a for-credit internship with a university, we are happy to coordinate and work with you on that.
There will be 1-2 weeks of intensive initial training in horsemanship, stockmanship, electric fence use, wilderness first aid, firearm use (optional), rangeland ecology, and leave-no-trace camping.
This training is mandatory, so the required arrival date of all crew members is May 10th, or, if you have college commitments, May 17. The internship ending date is July 31st.
Selection will be based on attitude, physical & mental fitness and endurance, compatibility with our team, interest in sustainable agriculture, ranching, and Inherding, and past job performance. This is a two-stage selection process, featuring first the application below, then an interview for a selection of candidates.
Due to the focus on education, this is an unpaid internship. To offset costs somewhat, interns will have free basic housing and access to as much beef as you can eat.
Skills that we will cover (whether with intensive training or on the job) during the summer include:
- Wilderness first aid
- Firearm use and safety
- Backcountry navigation/GPS use
- Cattle weighing
- Cattle branding
- Selecting finished beeves (what to look for, how to evaluate)
- Low stress cattle handling/stockmanship
- Managing and moving a herd of cattle across large scale variable landscapes
- Horsemanship (groundwork basics, riding, and techniques to work with your horse more effectively) using the methods of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance
- Horse shoeing and farriery.
- Horse care & first aid
- Horse tack care and maintenance
- Bridling and saddling
- Basic horse packing
- Hotwire building
- Basic plant monitoring and plant identification
- Ecological impacts + benefits of cattle use
- Low impact backcountry camping practices
- Camp cooking
- Fire safety
How to Apply
You will not be able to save and revisit the application, so we recommend filling out your answers in a word document and then pasting into the application when you are ready to submit. The submission deadline is February 10th.
If you have tech issues, questions, or can’t access the application, email alderspringjobs[at]gmail.com and we’ll get back to you.