Travel Talk: Family-friendly horse holidays

Expert tips on choosing the right riding or ranch vacation

Gene Kilgore, author of Ranch Vacations, is the go-to guy for the scoop on horseriding holidays, guest ranches, dude ranches and working ranches whether you’re holidaying in Canada, going to the United States or even further afield.

Gene is the equine-savvy expert who has provided all the horse sense (pun intended) behind www.ranchweb.com , which functions almost like a mini portal for all things related to horse-friendly vacations, and endeavours to match customers to the  ranch or horseriding holiday that best suits their tastes.

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort ranch

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort ranch

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We asked Gene a handful of questions sent in by our readers:


Reader question: How do I know it’s a bonafide, legit ranch? How do I check? What do I look for? Is there any kind of criteria to be met?

Gene Kilgore: “If you¹ve never taken a ranch vacation before, or if you need some guidance on where to start, we offer a handy check list of questions to help make the process easier. We suggest that people pose these questions to the individual properties, to gather more specifics on the activities and programs they offer.

A great way to find quality ranches is to see if they’re members of any associations. For example, many of Ranchweb’s British Columbia properties are also part of the BC Guest Ranchers’ Association whose members offer excellent horseback riding, a wide range of activities, and high quality accommodations and amenities.

 

Reader Question. “If my wife and I and the kids book into a ranch vacation for a week, what happens if we get bored or tired of horses after three days?”

Gene Kilgore: There are lots of activities available at most ranches for families that go above and beyond horseback riding. For parents worried about keeping their kids entertained, many ranches offer kids programs where their children can play, have fun with other kids, learn about nature, and enjoy the outdoors.

Some ranches have very extensive programs led counselors that run from breakfast until after dinner, while others are designed to bring families together and integrate several activities and meals. If your family is keen to experience a range of activities during their vacation  beyond horseback riding  you’ll want to scope out each ranch’s offerings prior to booking.

Reader question: For the best scenery in Canada, what ranch vacation spots would you recommend?

Echo Valley

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa: up  into the saddle, then out into the great outdoors (Courtesy: Echo Valley Ranch & Spa)

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Gene Kilogre: All of the Canadian ranches are incredibly picturesque, in my opinion. Think sweeping meadows, rolling hills, and incredible stargazing thanks to the clean country air. Many of the guest ranches in British Columbia can be found in the heart of Cariboo Country, in the interior of the province.

Ranches such as Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, in Clinton, B.C., Siwash Lake Ranch, set on 80,000 acres of pristine rangeland halfway between the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast of British Columbia, Three Bars Cattle & Guest Ranch, in Cranbrook, British Columbia, and Tod Mountain Ranch, in the southern interior of British Columbia, all offer peaceful and lush wilderness vacations.

Reader question: I like horse ranches and swimming.  Could you recommend a ranch vacation in Canada where I could get time on a horse but also escape to a each every couple of days?

Gene Kilogre: If you’re a horse-lover who’s looking to stay close to the ocean, I suggest heading to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Tofino, Vancouver Island. There you can spend time in Clayoquot Sound World Biosphere on the western most edge of Vancouver Island, and on the one day you can go horse-back riding and whale-watching – and take a dip in the water.

Reader question: What wilderness camp would you recommend in Canada?

Ranch holidays for women are growing in popularity

Women are finding riding vacations a great way to escape and embrace a new challenge, with or without husband and kids (Courtesy: Warner Guiding and Outfitting)

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Gene Kilgore: Warner Guiding and Outfitting, based in Banff, Alberta, specializes in horseback riding in backcountry, deep into Banff National Park. Your companions will be seasoned cowboys who know horses and know the land.

To search the detailed ranch directory to find the horse vacation to meet your wishlist, check out the Ranchweb directory.