Last weekend, our May long weekend here in Canada, some friends and I drove 6 hours up into the interior of BC. We rented a cabin for 6 and we took 3 horses. It was a place called The Hills in 108th Mile House. The altitude is 12,000 feet, the air is clear and the trees are not as big and lush as our famous "wet coast". I loved the serenity, no people, traffic noise or cell phone towers! I took my new horse Bandit, who has spent years on the Hunter/Jumper circuit, and he has never done much outside of a ring. He made himself at home in a rustic paddock fenced with round wood, and started eating his hay. That was Thursday, on Friday it rained a bit and we took the horses for a walk, and on Saturday, we went for about a 2 hour ride through some of the most gorgeous riding country you can imagine!

The property is 5000 acres of trails, dirt roads, cow paths and forested areas. There are 3 lakes and we rode around one of them, it was gorgeous! I galloped Bandit up a big grass hill, and he did so well. The horse was so full of joy, you could just feel it in his step. He did not spook at anything, he even allowed me to open and close a gate without dismounting, and I was so glad I had brought this 15 year old Appendix out into the bush to enjoy real riding. When you think of the false, confined life these show horses live,a life completely controlled by humans, it did my heart good to see him enjoy his ride out so. The next day we went for another ride, and this time had to cross a creek bed which was muddy, but not too bad. Bandit was not too sure about this, but I encouraged him - :"come on Bandit you can do it!" Before I knew what we were through the mud and out the other side, and cantering up another long grassy hill. This horse's back was really tight when I got him in January of this year, but with the body work and the barefoot trimming, and now the hills, he is walking like a black man with that wonderful swing in the step where you can really feel the muscles move underneath you. It is so good to feel that, and to experience the joy this horse felt to be free in the wilderness, galloping his heart out with me on his back! On the way home, the five of us split up as Bandit was not up to a 5 hour ride. I went home with a great old guy called Hans, who rode a sturdy Morgan, and who for years was involved in search and rescue on horseback. Hans knows this place like the back of his hand, and we walked home together, our two horses, who were the same age, getting along like they had known each other their whole life. Bandit put his footsteps into where Kona had walked, as if to follow the wise one's steps, it was great! When we got back to camp, Hans's wife had hot coffee and some home made Apple bread, a very welcome site indeed! I thanked him for his guidance on the trail, it was so good to ride with somebody who knew the land so well.

I love riding in the open country so - it's one of the things I miss about Jamaica. Now I shall have to find some places closer to home, as this was a long trip and not one you can make in a weekend. The feeling was so great - we had lots of good food, blankets for the horses as the temperature dipped down to nearly freezing at night and up in the teens during the day. The days ended with a home cooked meal and wine or beer, and a dip in the hotel hot tub or pool. Great way to unwind for a weekend! The horses thoroughly enjoyed the ridingt as did we, and it was with some regret that we packed up and drove home last Monday, but the determination is there not to leave it so long before we get our horses out there again! Happy trails everyone! Cheers, Ann.

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Comment by Best Horses Online on June 12, 2010 at 12:40am
Wonderful story what a dreamy weekend. I am actually sending my mother to "The Hills" for the month of July. They offer a weight loss program of all things so hoping she will loose a few lbs!
Comment by Jackie Cochran on May 29, 2010 at 10:24am
On most of the East Coast of the USA there is VERY little open country to ride in. Usually to ride cross-country (if you can get the property owner's permission) you have to be able to jump fences, which with all the barb wire around now is not the safest option for most riders.

As a young child I got to ride in Chile, open country, up and down the foot hills of the Andes Mts.. It spoiled me.

Maybe we could get a billionaire to buy all the vacant land that is left, take down all barbed wire, and open it for the use of horseback riders ONLY. Dream on.
Comment by Sally Spencer on May 29, 2010 at 7:42am
It sounded terrific, Ann and you write very well. Loved the black man swagger bit!

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