I am a bit of a cowboy hat aficionado and with a collection of five hats and growing it’s starting to get a little out of control. Other than attending the Stampede, going horseback riding is the one time I can wear my hats and not get strange looks (which doesn’t deter me anyways). So, as much as I like hiking, it’s nice to let someone else do all the work every once in awhile and it gives me a chance to get a little trail dust on my hats.
Set in the foothills on the entrance to the Rockies, Bar JH is a scenic escape for wannabe cowboys like me. Forty dollars buys riders a full day of guided horseback bliss, which is guaranteed to leave your saddle tender.
Judy & Del’s corral is nestled along the Hummingbird Creek near Ram River Provincial Park. It’s found along the Forestry Trunk Rd between Nordegg and Rocky Mountain House, but it would be best to check in with them for directions.
The friendly and helpful staff had our horses bridled, saddled, and ready to ride when we arrived each morning. They set up our stirrups and were vigilant in ensuring our straps were snug. We packed our rain gear and lunches into some saddlebags and set out for the day. Our steeds may not have been bucking stallions, but they were calm, well cared for trail horses. I rode Croppy, a paint who got her name due to her cropped left ear.
Our guide took us out on a different trail each day to show us the local highlights. The horses climbed steep hills, trotted through open fields, and crossed many a waist deep mountain creek. Their stability and ease of handling such varied terrain always amazes me, however there can be the occasional spook or stumble. My Mom’s horse slipped in the mud at one point and dumped her off the side; she luckily landed in a patch of grass between muddy trails and I somehow got splattered head-to-toe.
The scenery through the valleys is fantastic and you are treated to rivers, waterfalls, and majestic mountain views throughout. Our little guide Marla did an excellent job and it was hard to tell at times that she hadn’t been guiding for ten or more years, when in fact she is only ten years old! She obviously loves her horses and did a great job taking care of us as well by always making sure we were close-by, comfortable, and safe. She must’ve shown me how to properly hitch my horse to a tree a dozen times.
Whether you’re looking for a unique new experience in the Rockies or you’re an experienced rider looking for a beautiful countryside to explore on horseback, I would highly recommend checking out Bar JH. There are plenty of campsites nearby suitable for both tents and RVs if you want to make a couple days of it, just call well ahead of time to reserve some horses.
What to bring/wear horseback riding?
- long sleeves and pants to protect from brush
- boots (Cowboy to look the part), but lots of the guides had on rubber boots because it was so muddy in places. Keep in mind that choosing a boot with a smoother sole is preferable as it allows the rider to slip their feet out of the stirrups in case of a rollover.
- durable rain gear
- a lunch/snacks
- first aid kit
- and a cowboy hat, of course!