Hiking is fun, sure, but we’ve got the skinny on how to encounter some of Canada’s most soul-stirring country: horseback riding at the Falcon Beach Ranch. Few people get to experience a prairie vista at sunset or a lakeside trail from the back of these soulful beasts, and a trot down a trail connects you with both the horse and your environment—the smell of wildflowers, the touch of a soft breeze, and the warble of birds is waiting. Visit the Falcon Beach Ranch website.
Connecting with Nature in Manitoba
Kendra Imrie, along with her husband Devin, are the owner-operators of the Falcon Beach Ranch in southeastern Manitoba, about an hour and a half drive from Winnipeg. The ranch has been in Devin’s family for 41 years. Kendra and Devin took the reins (pun intended) about four years ago, and they even have sixth generation descendants of the horses that originally populated the ranch. “They’re definitely like our family,” Imrie says. “We’ve got 45 of them, and every one is unique.”
There’s a wealth of horseback riding knowledge to inform an experience at the Falcon Beach Ranch. And with all that know-how and years of trail-riding, Imrie says the main reason people should look into the activity is simple: “It connects you with animals and it connects you with nature. You are with this incredible animal as it’s taking you on these incredible trails. It can be thrilling, but it can also be really relaxing.”
Bonding with the Horses
Let’s explore what quality time with a well-trained horse might be like. At the Falcon Beach Ranch, your trail guides try to match their horses to your personality as a rider. Every horse, just like every person, is different. If you’re really tall, you might get a tall horse. If you’re feeling a bit nervous, they’ll hook you up with one of their more quiet horses.
“You are learning about the horse’s personality as you’re with it, whether you’re with the horse for an hour or taking one of the longer rides,” Imrie says. “So you learn about their personality—whether they’re kind of a spunky type horse or really laid back. You’re on the horse, you’re touching the horse, petting it if you want. There’s some bonding involved there.”
What to Bring Horseback Riding
As far as the intensity of the activity goes, riding a horse is adjacent to moderate hiking. At the Falcon Beach Ranch, you can bring your phone or camera along to document all the stunning views, but it’s best to leave backpacks and purses at the office so that you’re not loaded down with extra weight.
“We ask our guests to wear long pants,” Imrie says. “Jeans are ideal for Western riding, but any kind of long pants will do. And closed-toe shoes. So—no sandals and no shorts. That’s just for comfort and safety on the horse. We ride rain or shine, so we ask our guests to dress according to the weather—a rain jacket if it’s a little bit drizzly, or a sun hat and sunscreen if it’s hot.”
What to Expect on your Ride
Every ride is unique. The ranch does group and private rides, pony rides for kids, and a number of rides with food included, like the Steak Cookout Ride and the Ranch Wiener Roast Ride. Most of these rides take between 40 minutes and three hours. And the ranch offers one extra special trip: the UFO Ride, which takes you to the site of one of Canada’s most famous UFO (unidentified flying object) encounters. It’s a rugged trek to a spot about 40 minutes away, where you’ll dismount and be guided through a walking tour of the site where the event took place.
If you’re new to horseback riding, staff at the ranch have you covered. Before heading out, guides help mount everybody on their horses and offer a demonstration and mini-lesson on how to control the animals, including steering and how to keep your horse from stopping for too many grass snacks on the trail.
“Once we have everyone mounted on their horse, we head out on the trail behind a guide,” Imrie says. “Our trails are all throughout the boreal forest. We’re kind of at the edge of the Canadian shield here, so we head out on the trail and hopefully see some wildlife out there. They’re quite beautiful, forested trails, so it’s not rare to see wildlife like ruffed grouse and deer, and we’ve seen a few bears this year.” (Don’t worry—the guides know how to handle the Whiteshell’s black bears, which typically avoid humans).
The ranch offers trail rides year-round, and there are rides suitable for all ages. They also do overnight rides, which take you deep into the Whiteshell wilderness where you can experience a deep-water crossing, enjoy views of the pristine Falcon and Star Lakes, and get cozy with the gorgeous nature of the Canadian Shield and its abundant Boreal forest. While there’s no guarantee they’ll be out and about while you’re trotting by, the area is home to many different species of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, raccoons, beavers, muskrats, and eagles.
And of course, you can expect guides who are excited to show you the ropes, and grateful they get to spend their summers surrounded by such beautiful scenery.
“I feel so fortunate to be able to live the dream. I’m told by guests on an almost daily basis that we’re so lucky,” Imrie says. “And I love to hear that because I love to share it with other people.”
Where Else to Go Horseback Riding in Canada
Glen Valley Stables in Langley, B.C.
The Jasper Riding Stables in Alberta.
The Willow Creek Guest Ranch in Saskatchewan.
The Diamond J Ranch in Ontario.
The Dorelies Equestrian Farm in St-Basile-de-Portneuf.
Broadleaf Ranch in New Brunswick.
And Evangeline Trail Rides in Nova Scotia.
All photos by Emily Christie for the Falcon Beach Ranch