It’s been about twenty five years since I last worked with cattle, but I always wanted to be part of another cattle drive.
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to take part in a trail ride and got hooked on the excitement of the ride and camaraderie of meeting new people with similar interests in horses.
From my research on the internet I discovered several horse owners and ranches in Alberta that offered everything from beginer trail rides to full blown cattle drives on horseback.
One such place is Lakeview Guest Ranch Ltd located near Sangudo Alberta owned and operated by Diana and Eckhard Krah. They offer trail rides all summer long. They also offer cattle drives with their partner ranch Riverwood Ranch located near Evensburg Alberta owned and operated by Bruce Greenwood. Diana handles the marketing for Riverwood Ranch.
After exchanging a few emails with Diana, I signed on to join the last cattle drive of the season. For a nominal fee you can feel like a real cowboy or cowgirl.
This will be great, I thought to myself but I did have some reservations about being on a horse for several hours when I wasn’t used to it. I had visions of myself walking like an eighty year old man for the next few days due to the proverbial “saddle sore”.
Saturday September 29 was a beautiful day. The sun was out and the tempurture would be in the high teens.
I made the one and a half hour drive out to the ranch and arrived at about 9:30 am. Trail boss and owner, Bruce Greenwood was out saddling horses with his daughter and partner, Meagan and immediately came over and introduced himself. After a few minutes of exchanging pleasantries, he went back to continue getting things ready as several more guests started arriving.
After about forty five minutes all the guests had their horses saddled and we gathered around for a safety briefing.
Finally Meagan showed me the horse I’d be riding. A beautiful Belgian cross mare named Freya, with a strong body and a neck as thick as a Califorina Redwood. Bruce later jokingly said her nick name is Sherman as in Sherman Tank because she could plow through any type of bush or rough terrain.
We all headed out to look for the cattle as a group. There were twelve to fifteen riders in total and we all talked amongst ourselves as we rode along the road and across some fields to where the cattle whould be.
It was exciting to ride along, guiding cows, calves and a few bulls to where we wanted them to go. Some ran into thick bush and a few of us went in to rout them out. “I feel like a cowboy in the 1880’s” I jokingly said to one of my fellow riders.
We actually did three seperate cattle drives in all and we all had a blast. With a little direction from Bruce, Meagan or Jennifer ( a volunteer at the ranch) we successfully guided all of the cattle to where they needed to be.
About 1:30 pm we stopped for lunch at a little valley campsite nesstled amongst pine and birch trees. Cooking smokies over an open fire was wonderful but getting off my horse to stretch my legs, after a couple hours on the trails, was heavenly.
After filling our bellys, we once again mounted these wonderful creatures and continued to take a tour of Riverwood Ranch and surrounding land.
As the day wore on we found ourselves riding along the Pembina river. Slow moving water with steep sloped cliffs on the other side made me remember some old western movies with similar scenery.
We finally made our way to a cabin where we led the horses out into a shallow part of the river to get a drink and cool their hooves.
We then dismounted and settled down with a beer or soft drink as a wonderful meal of beans, corn and pineapple chunks blended together was served along with big juicy hamburgers with cheese and all the side dishes and fruit. I ate so much I could barely walk.
Everyone either gathered around the camp fire or mingled at the cabin veranda and talked, laughed or stretched out on lawn chairs.
This was an incredible adventure for a city boy with cowboy roots.
I can’t wait until next season when the trails open up and Lakeview Guest Ranch and Riverwood Ranch offer trail rides and cattle drives again.
If you want a cowboy adventure close to the city talk to Diana at www.lakeviewguestranch.com
Maybe I’ll see you on the trails in the spring time.
I’ll be there . . .