The list of outdoor options in Banff and Canmore, the Canadian Rockies, seemed endless. Over Skype, my parents and I had narrowed down what they’d really like to do whilst visiting. Despite none of us having much experience, horse riding seemed to hold a romantic appeal. I pictured us galloping through the blue water, cowboy hat in hand, mountains in the background….or something like that. I did a little light googling and found that both Groupon and TravelZoo had offers for 1 hour Bow River horse rides. The company looked legit and had very good reviews so I booked us up.
The company was called Banff Trail Riders and had a variety of rides and locations on offer. We figured that the one hour ride would be a good intro and with the Groupon, seemed good value for money. Upon arrival at Warner Stables, we overheard that they were running behind schedule by about an hour. There was no water fountain on offer or explanation as to what was going on. The portable toilets were pretty gross but wasn’t much to be done there. An hour behind schedule, it was explained to us that some horses and customers had been spooked earlier and it took a while sorting the horses out (or something). I can’t say the customer service was overly great either – people weren’t particularly friendly or chatty.
Regardless, after a brief introduction, we were on our horses and on the way. We were all surprised not to be wearing helmets – this seemed standard for another other place I’d ridden horses. My horse, Ceasar, was a pain in the arse.
He wasn’t happy with his place in the line and kept trying to move every few minutes. It drove me mad and I couldn’t really enjoy the scenery. The guide was a few horses behind me and kept joking about how keen Ceasar was to get home that day and how he wasn’t normally like that. That’s all well and good but kind of annoying for me. I kept having to pull the reigns instead of enjoying the ride. J’s horse was bordering on comatose and was pretty much asleep – my parents were a bit further up and whilst they enjoyed it, thought it was a little on the dull side.
It would have been nice to have had had a bit of commentary. The guide at the front was barking orders but there was no chance of me hearing it. The woman at the back only repeated them when I asked. It was also 30 degrees with no water – we couldn’t take anything with us except a camera which was rather disappointing.
A lot of this particular trail was throw the woods and next to the Bow River. The river is pretty amazing and lovely and blue but, we didn’t really get a view we couldn’t have got elsewhere. I think, in hindsight, a different route, perhaps THROUGH the river would have been a touch more exciting.
On the whole, I don’t have a lot to compare the trail to. It was good value for money and seemed very popular – there were lots of people on our slot and more were arriving. I do feel it could have been better organised with a touch better customer service. Not something I often find in Canada – people are so nice. It was a good experience but not one I would rush back to…