Last week we had an opportunity to ride horses at a Kamloops Guest Ranch. This is our honest review of our trail ride experience.
After our incredible family vacation at Three Bars Ranch in July, my son Holter fell in love with horseback riding and the whole dude ranch experience. When we got home, we discovered that there was a Kamloops Guest Ranch just a quick drive away and our city was doing a promotional campaign called Luv’n the Loops to drive awareness to local businesses.
When I saw Campbell Hills Guest Ranch on the list of local businesses that were participating, I spent time researching their website and checking out their social media pages. I was very excited to learn that they were offering morning or afternoon trail rides as a non-staying guest. It was a service that they had just started offering this summer in response to the ever changing world events and new safety measures.
I contacted this Kamloops guest ranch to book our morning trail ride and informed them that we had recently returned from a sponsored vacation at Three Bars Ranch and that I was a local Family Travel Blogger. We received a discount for our morning trail ride through Tourism Kamloops’ campaign “Luv’n the Loops” so we had no affiliation with this Kamloops guest ranch.
Arrival at Campbell Hills Guest Ranch
The drive to this Kamloops guest ranch was beautiful. I had never driven to the end of Robbins Range Road before and it took us all the way up the mountain. The scenery was spectacular and driving into Campbell Hills Guest Ranch had us both excited.
When we pulled into the driveway, one of their dogs raced out to greet us and unfortunately jumped up on the door of my car as we were driving. Luckily the dog didn’t scratch our car, my husband would not have been happy about it!
There was a horse blocking the driveway as I was pulling in so I waited for the owner Bernadette to come out and steer the horse away so I could carry on and park.
We were directed to the main building to get our riding boots and helmets for our trail ride and then made our way to the riding arena to begin our trail ride.
Kamloops Guest Ranch Trail Ride Introduction
The beginning of our trail ride began with a bit of a chaotic introduction to their riding rules and meeting our horses. They didn’t do a group introductory lesson before we mounted the horses and just did a quick rundown after we mounted.
I only have our experience at Three Bars Ranch to compare with and I do realize that we were not guests staying at this Kamloops Guest Ranch, we were only there for their morning trail ride. At Three Bars Ranch, they did a 10 minute group introduction to the horses and how to ride them so our two experiences began quite differently.
For our trail ride that morning, it began at 9:30am and in our group was myself, my son Holter and three other ladies who I believe were guests staying at the ranch. There were two wranglers that accompanied us, Bernadette the owner and a lovely girl from North Vancouver. The minimum age to ride the horses at this Kamloops guest ranch was 8 years so I was not able to bring my younger son.
One of the ladies in our group clearly had never ridden a horse before and asked if she could do a couple of practice laps in the barn before we left on the trail so she could learn what to do. She was told by the owner Bernadette that it would be easier to learn as we rode on the trails and off we went.
Holter rode Chance who was an absolute gem of a horse. Holter loves to trot and apparently so does Chance so it was a perfect match. Chance was perfectly behaved throughout the trail ride and Holter was happy as a clam!
I rode Charlie who was a lovely horse and quite easy to ride. Charlie just liked to ride directly into every branch imaginable so part of my trail ride was spent manoeuvring him away from obstacles that would hit me!
Out on the Trail for a Two Hour Ride
Getting to know your horse and trying to relax so they don’t sense any fear from you is important as you begin a ride on any horse. We were told there was long grass at the start of our trail ride and to not let the horses eat.
Unfortunately for the lady who had never ridden a horse before, her horse immediately went for the grass and started eating. She didn’t understand how to turn the horse, pull up on the reins or use her legs to signal to the horse to get moving. Every time her horse started eating one of the wranglers would yell out instructions but she just didn’t understand how to follow them. It set the stage for a frustrating first half of our trail ride.
Every couple of minutes her horse stopped to eat and she was getting incredibly frustrated because she didn’t understand the basics of riding a horse. I was directly behind her so I had to keep stopping to make sure my horse didn’t follow suit. I could see how upset this lady was and soon she just stopped and was totally in tears and wanted to go back to the barn.
After some convincing and another quick tutorial on how to ride a horse from Bernadette, we kept going and once we got to the forested area of the trail ride where there was no grass for the horses to eat, the experience improved dramatically for all of us but most importantly for the lady who was in tears.
This lady rode directly behind Bernadette for the remainder of the trail ride and I was able to enjoy the rest of my ride and the scenery. We rode by some small lakes and up into the forested area before descending back down to the ranch.
Luckily for my son Holter who was behind me and was happily chatting away to the wrangler from North Vancouver who was directly behind him, he had no idea of what was going on around him. He loved the trail ride and Chance gave him plenty of opportunities to trot which made his day. In his mind the experience was a huge success and for that I am thankful.
After the Trail Ride
At the end of our trail ride, our wrangler took a photo of Holter and I on our horses for us before we dismounted. We returned just before noon so we had about two hours on the horses. Bernadette talked with Holter about his horse Chance after we dismounted and then we were directed to pay for our ride before we left.
I was hoping Holter would get to help the wranglers brush his horse after our ride like we did at Three Bars Ranch but it wasn’t offered to us for our morning trail ride experience.
I paid for our trail ride with owner Martin who specializes in locally sourced ranch meals and vegan/vegetarian cuisine. I would have liked to stay for lunch but I didn’t choose that option for Holter and I this time.
Before I left I asked Martin for the Luv’n the Loops QR code so that I could add the Campbell Hills Guest Ranch stamp to my virtual passport. Apparently I was the first guest to take part in this promotion from Tourism Kamloops at this Kamloops guest ranch and he did not have the QR code for me to scan. Hopefully I can get it added to my passport by contacting the tourism office.
The cost for our half-day trail ride which starts 9.30am was $149.00 CAD per person, excl. GST and Gratuities. We received a 20% discount through the Luv’n the Loops campaign.
Final Thoughts on our Trail Ride
- My son loved the trail ride and his horse Chance. I’m thankful that he had some experience prior to this.
- I didn’t enjoy the first half of our trail ride but the last half of it improved immensely.
- I understand that offering trail rides to non-staying guests has been a big change for this Kamloops guest ranch this summer. I think they have a few kinks to work out for a more seamless experience for both ranch guests and public guests like us.
- Communication from the owners prior to arrival was quick, thorough and easy.
- The scenery surrounding this Kamloops guest ranch is beautiful and adds to the experience.
History of Campbell Hills Guest Ranch
In 2014, owners Bernadette and Martin Creutzlechleitner opened the doors to Campbell Hills Guest Ranch. This Kamloops guest ranch sits on 160 acres just outside of the city and can accommodate up to 18 people at a time. Bernadette is the head wrangler and follows the Natural Horsemanship technique. Martin is the chef and has a deep passion for vegan/vegetarian, ranch style food. Bernadette and Martin moved from Holland over 21 years ago before building their dream guest ranch.