With the sun sparkling off the snow tipped peaks of the Canadian Rockies, the river water splashed against our gentle horses. I called out to my smiling husband, ” I told you horseback riding Banff style would be amazing!”
Sitting on my horse in a Banff, Alberta postcard scene I could not help but gloat. He had been transformed into a happy cowboy.
Several weeks earlier I excitedly announced my plan to my long suffering husband.
“I’ve booked us in for a Cowboy for a Day horse riding adventure with Banff Trail Riders!” A flurry of eyelash batting and extra big grin accompanied the proclamation.
“Exactly what part of ‘I never want to ride a horse again’ didn’t you understand?”
Usually calm and reserved, it appeared I had pushed Hubby past the breaking point. “Of all the things to do in Banff do we really need to go horseback riding?”
“Those horses in Jamaica were polo horses! No wonder they wanted to run in the jungle and hide.” Our Caribbean horseback riding adventure had not gone well. Guides spent the day chasing after our less than cooperative horses, with us precariously attached. Dave’s hips took weeks to recover.
“This will be completely different. Banff Trail Riders have been taking people horseback riding since 1962! Surely they can manage you and your hips!”
With arm twisting and beautiful photos from the web site, I convinced my cowboy a mini horse holiday in Banff National Park would be spectacular.
Why was horseback riding Banff a better experience?
Arriving at Banff Trail Riders I had a skeptical husband on my hands. Being a good sport he had agreed to get back on the horse, literally. We shared the hope his hips would be in working order at the end of the day.
Our horse riding abilities had not changed since Jamaica. What was apparently different at first sight at Warner Stables in Banff, was the health of the horses. We watched as streams of staff calmly brushed, fed and spoke to the shiny coated animals as if they were old friends.
With over 300 horses at the stables the guides match the horse to the rider’s abilities. Hubby requested a stead the width of a bicycle seat. With wide grins the guides did their best to accommodate.
Although we are biased living in Canada, the scenery of Banff Alberta and it’s National Park takes one’s breath away. The horseback trails follow some of the same historic routes that the original explorers of the Canadian Rockies created in the 1920’s.
Our guides Cassandra and Katie gave us more confidence in five minutes than we had in a full day in Jamaica. Clear instructions and ever watchful, they calmly gave hints and tips on controlled and comfortable horse riding.
At mid day, while the horses rested in the shade, a cowboy feast was prepared over a campfire. Note the veggie kabobs prepared especially for this girl who requested no steak.
Special tips on horseback riding from the guides at Banff Trail Riders
If you are new to horseback riding ease into it.
Banff Trail Riders offers 17 unique horse riding trips from 1 hour to multi day back country trips. Being beginner riders, choosing the full day horse ride was a physically demanding day for us. Hubby may have given me an eye roll and an ‘I told you so’ look. Riding a horse is not just a matter of sitting.
Wear long pants and closed toed shoes.
Shorts with bare legs on a leather saddle will make for an unhappy cowboy or cowgirl. Safety first with sturdy shoes and pants to protect from not only the horse but the outdoor elements.
Bring a neck strap for your camera
Backpacks are not allowed on the horseback ride. Wearing your camera around your neck will be the best way to take photos. With scenery like this you will definitely want to capture the memories.
NEVER let go of the reins. Ever.
Much like letting go of a steering wheel of a moving car, this tip seems straight forward. Unless you would like your horse to take you on an unplanned adventure, hold the reins. Always.
Listen and follow the instruction of the guides
I can not begin to describe the difference in our two horseback riding experiences. The coaching and guidance provided by our guides in Banff left us feeling in control of the horses and safe. The sure footed and cooperative horses had Hubby smiling all day long.
As we drove away from our day of Banff trail riding I heard Hubby say, ” I suppose now you are thinking about a horseback riding vacation.”
Apparently he has developed mind reading abilities.
To learn more about booking your own horseback riding Banff experience click here.