06 October 2014

27 Sep-5 October 2014: Kamloops, Canada (horse riding)

What inspired me to head to a 'dude' ranch in Canada? Well two things....firstly my trip to Palestine was cancelled (surprise, surprise), and a friend suggested it as a replacement trip. Terries knew I wanted to visit a 'dude' ranch anyway, and she actually found this one by doing some internet research for me (she's good like that!).

So I booked it and headed up to a city called Kamloops in BC, Canada.  45mins drive from there is the Tod Mountain Ranch which is located at Heffley Creek.

The afternoon I arrived the sun was out and I got the grand tour of the ranch by Steve - the senior wrangler.  Very British and very experienced, he talked about each and every horse and the workings of the farm. A great intro to the ranch and the herd - who are all geldings as the owner, Tracey, decided that she would only have guys and no gals (too much trouble mixing them!). I also got to meet Blue (cos of his husky blue eyes), and Rowdy (cross between a collie and lab).

I met Heidi (helps Tracey with cleaning and other tasks around the ranch), and also Jean, a South African 21 year old wrangler.  So not an American or Canadian on the property at all! Got to know them (and the one other guest - Annya) at dinner time and realized that I was going to be in for a quiet time (which was just what I was after), with delicious homemade food and an abundance of conversation (when we weren't all tired out from the day!).

I found myself following a similar schedule most days...get up to see Steve/Jean collect in the horses from the fields (with help from Blue/Rowdy when they could be bothered getting out of bed - and me!), have breakfast, head out on our first ride around 9.30am, get back in for lunch and then head out for the afternoon ride about 1.30pm.  After heading back in after that, the temps drop and so we would shower and head back to the main ranch house for dinner at 7pm. No one was up for staying up and so I would hang out a bit in the main ranch house reading and then head back to the cabin about 9/10pm.

As for the trails - they were pretty steep (and sometimes slippery after the rain) and so the pace was slow with a few places where we could lope (ie canter). Loping took a while to get used to depending on what horse I was on and the slope - ie uphill or flattish.

But glad I asked to do a day trip otherwise the trails would get a bit repetitive after 4-5 days. Unfortunately there is only one trail as logging is being done on the other trail. And they rarely take guests out on a day trip as it's usually too hot and too steep for the horses.  Thankfully the conditions were good for us and so Tracey prepared a pack lunch for us and we headed out for the day with Blue and Rowdy in tow as well.

We didn't see any wildlife other than a deer, but the scenery was really beautiful - especially with the leaves changing colour. It was quite cold most of the time and a few mornings were around zero degrees which meant I had to layer up big time! Brrrrr.

I can't say enough about how wonderful a host Tracey was - always ready to chat and on hand for questions. As for the wranglers, Steve and Jean, they ensured safety always came first (for us and the horse) and so as a beginner I was never worried about being out of my depth! The herd of geldings were looked after like family (as were the ranch dogs Rowdy and Blue), and everything was provided during the stay - from freshly cooked homemade meals, spotless cabins (thanks Heidi) to endless coffee and great company!

Would recommend TMR to anyone - whether an experienced rider or not - as this is the ideal place to get away from it all! 

NOTE: There is no phone service and limited wifi (so bring a book!).