Saddle Up For a Great Time!
The trail rider guides, or outfitters, trace their origins back to the old authentic western cowboy traditions. Back then, cowboys would saddle up for weeks at a time rounding up cattle in the open lands of the vast wilderness of the Rockies. Today we can conjure up iconic images of free-spirited riders, crude campsites, and guitar playing around a campfire with horses quietly listening in the background.
Trail guides today have a gentler lifestyle, but their job is no less challenging. Calm, resourceful and with witty self-deprecating humour, they have an extraordinary skill set that comes from years of training come the rain, snow or shine. First, they are wranglers, meaning that they are expert horse handlers. Then, as accomplished riders, they will have spent an inordinate amount of time outdoors becoming intimate with the land, the wildlife, and the backcountry lifestyle, caring for horse and campers alike. Add to it the aptitude to host clients from all walks of life and skill levels, and you have yourself a trail rider guide. In some ways they wrangle both horses and people and focus on helping riders realize a once in a lifetime “bucket list” adventure. This is no small feat.
Southern Alberta is blessed with some of the best outfitters in the country, catering to the inner cowboys and cowgirls in all of us. Their offering includes a wide variety of services from single riding lessons, to day-rides, stay on the ranch vacation experiences, to multi-day backcountry adventures. Many of the outfitters are located on the eastern slopes of the Rockies a short drive from Calgary. Their backdrops are outstanding vistas of rolling lands, intense blue sky, and snowy peaks; the stuff movies are made of. The outfitters’ no-nonsense approach means they tailor their services to meet your individual needs or that of your group whenever they can. Just give them a call.
While hiking the foothills of the Canadian Rockies is an amazing experience, doing it on horseback allows you to see, smell and feel the land differently than is possible on foot. The best part is
that pretty much everyone can ride a horse and experience the great mountain views.
Trail riding is a transformative experience, and Neil MacLaine understands this well. The owner-operator of Moose Mountain Horseback Adventures since 1991, Neil has credentials capable of instilling confidence in the wariest of newbie rider. Besides being the president of the Cowboy Trail Tourism Association since 2009, he is a retired Lieutenant Colonel commanding the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, a reserve reconnaissance unit. Today Moose Mountain Horseback Adventure is, in Neil’s words, “a hobby that went hopelessly out of control.” He and his team are “Dedicated to providing outstanding horseback adventures in harmony with nature,” while leaving the smallest possible footprint on the wilderness. The ranch is located close to Calgary near the hamlet of Bragg Creek. Moose Mountain Horseback Adventures and all their horses offer a full range of customized riding opportunities.
packtrips.ca | 1-866-513-7433
At Anchor D Guiding & Outfitting, Dewy Matthews loves his well-trained horses, and it shows. They also care for each of their guests, and many come back for the experience. Anchor D Guiding is a first class company offering a full range of riding opportunities. They are a short drive from Calgary about 15 km west of Turner Valley.
anchord.com | 1-877-933-2867
The Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies (TRCR) is a not-for-profit society with a rich 95 year history of trail riding. Their mission is to providing first-class all-inclusive riding packages. They do this in collaboration with local outfitters. TRCR caters to the novice and the expert alike. Check out what’s new for 2018 and book your saddle trip.
trailridevacations.com | 1-844-560-5522
Elk Ridge Trail Rides is located next to Waterton Lakes National Park, where mountains rise out of the prairie fields and foothills providing dramatic landscapes best enjoyed by horseback. Take half a day or a full day and join one of their unforgettable trail ride experiences.
elkridgetrailrides.com | 403-715-4156
By: Renée Delorme