Horseback Riding in the Columbia Valley

Horseback Riding in the Columbia Valley on Where Rockies

Baffin, my horseback riding partner for our mountain adventure

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love horses. I’ve worked in fancy show barns, I’ve guided backcountry horseback riding trips in Banff National Park, and I dedicate all my time and money to caring for horses of my own. Pretty sure I’m obsessed. Just look at the editor’s note to this magazine. Or this one. In this summer’s issue, I’m not even in the photo at all! I took this on an early morning ride before work while spending time with one of my horses. Love them.

So when the opportunity came about to go horseback riding at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, I obviously said yes. After all, I was going to be away from my own horses, and I needed a fix!

The rides are provided by A Bar Z Mountain Adventures. This outfitter also does hunting trips, so the horses are experienced carrying guests, packing supplies and meat, navigating the terrain, and all other aspects of mountain life. Their sure-footedness and calm confidence on the trails would be a reassuring experience for anyone looking to enjoy a ride, regardless of their experience.

I arrived early to hang out with the guides and see the horses. The horses were happy, healthy, and napping under their shaded area. They had a steady supply of hay and water under their noses and were basically living the dream! The guides explained their work schedule was relaxed: with limited rides per day and minimum half-hour breaks between each ride. They were properly fitted with saddles to protect their backs and they were all shod for the rocky trails. Basically: these horses were living the dream!

I was matched with Baffin, a beautiful roan gelding with a quirky personality. He was nicknamed Buffoon because of his antics. Also on our ride was Junior, an excellent kids horse, Pal, a beautiful palomino, and Big Babe, a former dressage horse who took a liking to mountain life. They were an interesting mix of personalities and talents, and they all loved their jobs.

After the safety instructions and introduction to our horses, it was time to hit the trail! The one hour ride traversed through trees, crossed a creek, and travelled along a clearing with some excellent scenery. Even in the smoky haze, it was great to see the mountains of the Columbia Valley from this perspective. Our guide, Quinn, had been with the outfitter for years and she entertained us with stories of backcountry pack trips and personal stories about the horses we were riding. It was a relaxing ride on a steady mount who was happy to pack me along! Baffin proved to be a sweetheart, and he gave me an easy, relaxing ride.

Overall, the ride was a safe, relaxing experience and something that everyone could enjoy. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend a trail ride with A Bar Z Mountain Adventures!

Kate Barker