How to be a cowgirl at La Reata Ranch in Saskatchewan

Hello from the wild west! Did you know a world of cowboys and cowgirls (cowpeople?) actually exist? Because I didn’t. Seriously. I thought that kind of ranch life only existed in Western movies.

And then I spent a day at La Reata Ranch.

A few hours south of Saskatoon you’ll find the wide-open prairie playground of La Reata. The dude who runs the show is a German cowboy named George, with the help of an amazing crew of ladies and gents who cook, take care of the horses, and keep the whole place running smoothly.

I showed up wearing my blue plaid button-up shirt, trying to be ironic. Turns out every other ranch-hand also has a plaid shirt…many plaid shirts…of many different colours.

There’s a Saloon decked out in Western gear and booze, a communal kitchen area, and cabin rooms for guests.

But the fun got started once we hit the trails.

After we had finished our lunches, George went to round up the horses. Ever see dozens of horses galloping towards you over the ridge of a hill? I was pretty much speechless.

My horse was a “lady’s horse” named Gus. He was freckly like me. He kept watching me out of the corner of my eye being all, “Dude? Wtf? What’s with your hair colour?” I explained to him that I do indeed have a soul and not to worry. Then I compared our freckles and he seemed to relax.

We all mounted and set off on a journey around the ranch. Apparently Saskatchewan isn’t as flat as everyone would like you to think, because we meandered around a lake and up over ridges and through valleys.

My horse tended to follow the horse directly in front of us, so if he set out in a trot, I’d be left bouncing around my saddle trying to keep my camera still while holding onto my cowboy hat.

It wasn’t a pretty sight.

I also had the misfortune of being directly behind any horse that felt the need to crap. It happened at least five times. The images are burned forever in my head.

And the farting horses. Oh my god. The farting horses. At one point I was falling sideways off my horse because I was laughing so hard. Like a true 10 year old, tears streaming down my face.

The inner 9-year old horse-obsessed girl in me suddenly remembered why I was so enamoured with the stables near the house where I grew up. Did you know I even subscribed to Horsepower magazine? Obsessed.

That evening we had a hearty steak dinner before gathering in the Saloon for some beers and country music. And we awoke the next morning with muscles aching from head to toe. But I’m cut out for the ranch life, don’t you think?

It’s moments like these in places like this that remind me how lucky I am to be doing what I love.

  • September 22 2012

    Sounds like lots of fun. I had no idea these ranches existed outside of Alberta. Cool. And this looks like gorgeous country to be riding in. Enjoy

  • September 22 2012

    You are totally cut out to be a cowgirl, Candice!

  • September 22 2012

    Awesome. I am writing about my own horseback experience for Matador right now. Farting horses, burned mental images, its all there!

  • September 22 2012

    That picture of you on the horse over looking the grassy hills is so amazing. So incredibly idyllic. Love it.
    I kind of chuckled that you thought cowboys/cowgirls weren’t a real thing… but then, I went to school with a few of them…
    Did I ever tell you about my time in Saskatoon? I could have learned how to tranquilize buffalo. Because that’s a thing vets legit have to do there. Mmmmm… Bison burgers… omnomnom…

    Also, you now have me totally missing my horse riding days. le sigh. such beautiful creatures.

    • September 26 2012

      Man, I was so horse obsessed. I’d like to get back into it.

  • September 22 2012

    I’m jealous! I want to gallop away into the sunset on a farting horse.

  • September 23 2012

    How much fun! LOVE that last shot!!!

  • September 23 2012

    That is something I would like to try. Don’t know about the farting horses though.

    • September 26 2012

      All part of the experience, all part of the experience…

  • September 24 2012

    Fantastic… would love to do that if only I think horses wouldn’t like me too much…

    • September 26 2012

      At one point Gus gave up…the other horses were like, a kilometre ahead of us, and Gus just wanted to sleep…

  • September 24 2012

    Me to!

  • September 25 2012

    The last shot is epic! You totally fit right in with the blue plaid and the cowboy hat. ;)

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