By Monica Henderson
Horseback riding ranges from a relaxing hobby, to a source of livelihood, to high-stakes competition in our province.
In light of the warm summer months, there is no time like August to feature horseback riding as a way to experience nature in Southern Alberta.
“[On horseback], we leave no impact other than the odd horse hoof print,” said John Owens of Griffin Valley Ranch, a beautiful, 4 500-acre establishment located in the foothills northeast of Cochrane, Alberta.
Horseback riding is an excellent way to be social with fellow riders, enjoy time with animals, and feel more connected to the natural world around you. With proper instruction, a safe and affordable pastime equals the benefits of hiking and canoeing. Check out more about horseback riding through the lower foothills. Read More.
Navigating to Griffin Valley Ranch through the lower foothills through the area just north of Ghost Lake felt like teleporting to another world. Low-flying clouds wreathed the treeline, enhancing an atmosphere of mysterious calm. White-tailed deer, bucks and does alike, were easily spotted from the road that wove through the peaceful valley.
Arriving at the ranch you are greeted by an emerald view of the foothills, and put at ease by a kind of quiet that is not easily achieved unless sought out in nature. It’s obvious why this landscape could be greatly appreciated on horseback.
The serenity was partly broken up by the chatter of children participating in a trail riding summer camp. Their appetite for fun and love for the outdoors were palpable.
Owens commented in addition to having peace and quiet, that “[being] on a horse, time seems to slow down; people are not in a hurry to get to work or any other activities in life that can cause stress.”
Establishments like Griffin Valley Ranch cater to beginners, seasoned trail riders, and even parents seeking a summer camp that can teach their child a new skill.
Griffin Valley Ranch offers summer camps for children, guided trail rides, un-guided trail rides for people with adequate riding abilities, and camping.
Owens mentioned that the most important thing for a new or potential rider to remember is simply to, “relax, stay calm, and enjoy your horse and nature.”
Horseback riding is a great way to see wildlife
A quiet way to experience nature
Source: CPAWS Southern Alberta