THINGS TO DO:
What better way to experience Alberta than on horseback? Every summer we don our western duds and head out to spend a few days on a working guest ranch or trekking with our horse-crazy friends. Here’s the inside story.
Cattle Drives and Down-Home Cooking
One time riding the herd, a little steer strayed away and the range boss actually trusted me to ride out and move him back. Wow – did I feel like a hero! Riding with the wranglers to bring in the herd is definitely bucket list material. Back at the ranch, helping with the chores under that big bluebird sky didn’t feel like work at all. After a long day in the saddle and a big home-cooked meal, city life seems far away.
A Week in the Backcountry
Ride deep into the mountains and leave the trappings of daily life behind. Time on the trail is a chance to learn about horsemanship, the wilderness and the joys of a simpler way of life. After a week in the saddle with the Trail Riders of The Canadian Rockies, I reluctantly left my horse behind but took away indelible memories. Some days we rode into spectacular valleys; others, along sensational rocky ridges. A day off the saddle gave our horses a break and us a chance to take to the water in canoes. Meals seemed more delicious cooked over a campfire. And whether we slept in tents or rustic cabins along the trail, sleep was easy and deep.
Do you have a horse that likes to roam? Maybe the two of you want to learn to work the herd. Well, pack a bale of hay in the trailer and Bring Your Own Horse to places like Sierra West Cabins and Ranch Vacations in the south, Rafter Six in the Rockies, or Lucasia Ranch in the foothills. You and your horse are welcome to join in on the adventure with horseless folks like me. I just love seeing the young riders bring their horses so they can learn together. The smiles and the snorts say it all.
Yoga, Massage…and Stagecoach Rides
Many ranch vacations in Alberta expand the experience to include activities like yoga and massage. Last year I rounded up the gal pals and headed to The Outpost at Warden Rock. I knew our Chicks in the Sticks adventure was going to be non-stop fun. The first thing we did was load into a real stagecoach pulled by four horses for a two hour ride into the backcountry camp on the border of Banff National Park. The days flew by, filled with trail rides, hikes and cowgirl boot camp sessions mixed with yoga, massage and nightly campfires where we rekindled lifelong friendships.