Holidays

Stan Walchuk Jr, horse trail riding, trail riding guide

For many people riding across a pasture, down a laneway, or along a road is considered to be trail riding. It’s a good thing that we have those options since we cannot instantly wish ourselves onto the wilderness trail of our choice. But interesting trails spoil us

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Holidays on Horseback - Sven, the Haflinger pack pony, jerked his head up and snorted. I looked uphill towards our camp and caught a humpy flash of beige ducking behind a stunted fir tree. Grizzly, I thought. I was hand-grazing Sven and my paint mare, Jewel, on a frosty July morning in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia during a solo pack trip. When Sven jerked his head up again, a beige grizzly bear shambled downhill towards us. Just 20 metres uphill from the first bear, a second bear rose up on its hind legs out of the brush before dropping down onto all fours and following the frontrunner. As the two bears lumbered towards us, Sven danced around on his lead line while Jewel kept grazing, and my heart beat a little quicker. As I considered what to do, a third bear trundled out of the trees and followed the first two. They were all grizzlies, all full size, and all coming straight at us. I started to sweat.

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Holidays on Horseback - For the first time in a long time, I did not leave my home country, or even my province, at all this past year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last time I packed my helmet and chaps to fly to a new place for an equine adventure was in November 2019, when I travelled to New Zealand for The Land of the Long White Cloud Ride with Wild Women Expeditions. Reflecting on all of the wonderful opportunities I have had in my career as a photojournalist specializing in horseback riding vacation articles, I treasure the memories and am thankful for the opportunities. Experiencing little pockets of the world that the typical tourist never sees and meeting wonderful people from all over the planet with one thing in common — the horse — has been an exciting venture. In my opinion, the saddle of a native equine is one of the best seats one could have to breathe the scents, take in the views, and experience the nuances of a different culture. With the pandemic forcing us all to stay close to home, I am sure many of you are itching to get out there once the travel bans are lifted. If a riding vacation is in your future and you are wondering where to go, hopefully I can give you a few things to think about and help you narrow down your options.

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On any riding vacation, whether it’s camping or glamping, there are a few essentials that I always bring along.

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As we trudged up a scorching gully of black boulders, I tried to ignore my parched throat and the sweat dripping down my back. It was a late afternoon in February, 2020, and I was hand-walking Farouk, a spicy, 14.1 hand, 18-year-old chestnut Arabian stallion who preferred galloping across the desert to fancy footwork in rocky ravines

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How guest ranches and riding resorts have survived and thrived during the pandemic - It’s been almost a year now since we began dealing with the repercussions of the global pandemic, and we’re not yet anywhere near “business as usual.” No aspect of the horse industry remains untouched. Although some businesses were agile enough to adapt fairly quickly, the livelihood of a guest ranch owner or an outfitter depends on vacationers coming to their location to experience a day or a week in the saddle. Horses cannot simply be parked; they need to be cared for, and wages need to be paid.

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“Let’s take a break here,” Rob LaFrance called from behind me. It was late May, 2019 and three of us were riding a 60-kilometre stretch of the historic Collins Overland Telegraph Trail in central British Columbia, which hadn’t been ridden in its entirety in at least half a century. The trip was an opportunity to ride along a piece of history, experience the challenges of those who had traveled before us, and celebrate the reopening of the trail.

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