THINGS TO DO:
A visit to a guest ranch in Alberta can be addictive. All it took was one week of working with the herd, tending to the animals, hanging out with real wranglers and watching that sun sink in the west and I was hogtied in love with the traditions, folklore and lifestyle. If you spend time on the range it won’t take long before you’re looking for your next fix of the cowboy way. Be it poetry, western clothes or learning the art of roping and riding, Alberta has your inner cowboy covered.
Boots Aren’t Just Fashion – They’re Function
Nothing tells a story like a pair of cowboy boots, and Alberta Boot in Calgary is the place to start. Pick a pair that fits then watch the stories grow. My boots have a scuff from a stepping stone I fell off while crossing a creek. There’s a soft rub from long days in the stirrup and wrinkles and caked on mud from fixing a fence in the rain. The older the boots get the better the stories will get – just like cowboy poetry.
It’s not Shakespeare – It’s Cowboy Poetry
At least a dozen Cowboy Poetry events happen each year in Alberta pulling poets and musicians together. You’ll find me tapping my toe to the music and laughing with the storytellers at The Pincher Creek Cowboy Gathering every June. Poets gather from across the continent – young and old – to tell tall tales romancing life on the range. The sagas may be based on truth, but like they say – why let that get in the way of a darn good story. Gatherings are usually accompanied by a dance and equine events.
Step Back and Learn
The Bar U Ranch National Historic Site is the only place in Canada celebrating ranching history and the cowboy way. It’s a working ranch so it’s easy to find a rope to toss at a hay bale dressed as a calf. My husband mastered the toss while I sipped coffee boiled over a lazy fire. The kids followed the sound of a gently tapping hammer to see how a leather saddle is adorned and came home with a leather tag they tooled themselves. Riding in a wagon easily pulled by a team of silky black Percherons was a wonderful way to explore the ranch.
Now That You’re a Cowboy – Learn to Dance Like One
We took a road trip to Hill Springs and spent the weekend at The Great Canadian Barn Dance campground. Saturday night was a good old barn dance where we learned to line dance, two-step and yes even square dance. We all had fun. Next time we head to The Ranchman’s in Calgary, my cowboy boots will be ready to add another story.