I used TripAdvisor to review dude ranches in the Bandera area and after our stay there I can say that most of the positive reviewers are accurate. I have some constructive feedback to offer but can say without reservation that we will return to the Running R Ranch.
Took the family there in April. Wife, three kids and me were there for 2 nights. All of us enjoyed the trip very much.
1) Accomodations - Spotless. Rustic. These are not fancy accomodations, nor should you expect so at a 'dude ranch'. We stayed in a one-room building with a queen bed and two bunks on either side. There was a couch, table, dresser, small refrigerator, ceiling fans and bathroom. Very comfortable and very clean.
2) Food - Very good. Don't expect haute cuisine, but what they do they do very well.
Our Saturday lunch was barbecue baby-back ribs, sausage, ranch-style beans, potato salad, cole slaw, lemonade, ice tea and cookies for desert. I believe everything was home-made.
At breakfast you can expect biscuits and gravy (no sausage in the gravy though), scrambled or fried eggs, hash browned potato, fresh fruit, cereal, bacon, toast, coffee, tea, juice, milk. While everything was good I suspect the biscuits and hasbrowns were not made from scratch.
Dinner - No dinner, no problem. We enjoyed the fact that dinner was not served here. We took advantage of the many great restaurants in the Hill Country. Head to Fredricksburg for some outstanding fare (even of the gourmet variety).
3) Pool - The kids loved the pool. The water was a bit chilly in April but it felt great to my snowbird children. Lovely deck surrounds the pool with a few lounges and chairs.
4) Horseback riding - We all enjoyed this very much. My youngest child is 6 (the minimum age the Running R will let ride) and he'd never riden before. The owner (Iris) recommended we go out for only an hour. She was right. He rode first behind the wrangler, Dale, who held a rope attached to my sons horse. All went well and the next day my youngest rode without the 'leash'. In fact, on the second day we did a 2-hour ride in the morning and a 1-hour ride in the afternoon. The 2-hour ride was a bit much for the 6 year-old but once it was over he felt like an accomplished rider.
The riding is very leasurely and basically follow-the-leader. Perfect for a young family. I suspect that if you are an accomplished rider you could gallop or trot, but we didn't.
The wranglers we had were Dale and Melissa. Both were very kind, but sometimes a bit crusty. Even the 'crustiness' was kind of endearing though. They engaged all of us in conversation and offered up funny stories along the ride and over meals. If you have small children make sure you get to the barn early before the morning rides so you can brush the horses.
5) Other - My kids had a fun time fossil hunting and playing ping-pong. However, the ping-pong table is outside and has seen much better days. We were disappointed that we could not have a bonfire at night but Central Texas has not had much rain recently and a 'burn-ban' was in effect. My kids also enjoyed playing with Dale's son. Dale (the wrangler), his wife and son live on the Ranch, as do Iris and Ralph (the owners).
The wife and I enjoyed a glass of wine in the main house after the kids went to sleep. Remember though, the Ranch is BYO.
All in all it was a pleasurable and relaxed trip. The kids loved it most of all.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.