The ranch is owned and operated by Zack and Patty Wirth, fifth-generation Montana ranchers. Their daughters, Maria and Anna, and son-in-law Ben all teach and work on the ranch together.
The Rocking Z is a family business, owned, operated and managed by your hosts. Zack and Patty started the guest ranch in the year 2000, making their dream into reality. Zack's family settled in the area in 1864, and Patty's family settled a few hours east of the ranch in 1872. Between cattle ranching and operating a construction business, Zack and Patty dreamt of being able to work together and share their lifestyle with others. They have six children, all of whom are married and mostly live in Montana. Zack and Patty are proud that their 15 grandchildren are learning to ride and that the future of the ranch is in good hands.
Zack and Patty are the heads of the business. They love spending time getting to know clients, but they also work long hours and truly enjoy life. Zack focuses on the ranching and farming side of the business. That means haying, fixing tractors, clearing trees and building fences. He also has built virtually every building on the ranch. Zack is a dreamer and innovator, designing his own solar-panel irrigation movers to save money and avoid having to use the normal two-stroke engines in the fields among many other things. Patty is pragmatic and dedicated. She holds everyone together with love and strong values. She manages the computer work and everything that that entails! Whenever she can she is out working with young horses, taking rides, or minding her grandchildren.
Ben and Maria Anderson are dedicated to learning and truly developing horses to their potential. Ben has a degree in Equine Science and Maria has already passed her Level 4 Freestyle through the Parelli Foundation. They love starting colts from never having been touched and developing them into working horses. Together they team rope and raise roping cattle, care for the whole herd of horses, and care for and teach clients year round.
Anna and Tom Snell are newlyweds, and Tom is learning how to ride. Anna has an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, in which she received a Distinction with her dissertation upon Medieval Farriery. She gained her Masters at Durham University in North-East England, where she currently lives throughout the winter months. Tom is working on his PhD there in GeoPhysics, and looks forward to making Montana his future home. Anna is also a certified Anma Amatsu practitioner, and gives clinics and lessons by request in Natural Horsemanship. She believes that horses and humans should both have fun at least 90 percent of the time, and if it's not fun for both of you then something has gone awry. She is obsessed with learning as much as she can about the history of the horse, in the hopes that it will be able to make the future better and more stable for horses and humans to be together.
Other members of the family come to the ranch to work, help, or play. Dan and Elly Wirth with their sons, Tyler and Chase, come out every week to maintain a rota of horseshoeing. Truly, they are the foundation of the ranch because without them we wouldn't have a leg to stand on! Dan is a Certified Journeyman Farrier and is exceptional at maintaining difficult hooves and curing many lameness problems. Elly assists Dan and together they keep the entire herd of horses sound. The other three brother and sisters only visit occasionally. Laura and Nathan Toeckes have five children and live on a farm an hour and a half away, near Great Falls. Paul and Joanna Wirth also have five kids, and they live four hours away near Kalispell. Alicia and Jared Pattengale have three children and live just over two hours away near Livingston.