I went to Banff Trail Riders just last month, in August 2019. It took about 1.5 hours from Calgary. Our experience was actually over two days because we unfortunately arrived late on the day we were originally booked. Although we left early, we got a bit lost and they require you to be there 30 minutes before your ride is scheduled. We were there about 10 minutes before the ride and didn't quite make it.
So we had booked for a Saturday, but when we arrived late we decided we would make the trip again the next day. It was not fully transferrable, but we got a rate of half price for the following day.
The ride we did was the Bow River Ride. It was very enjoyable.
On the Saturday we just spent some time looking at and petting the horses, and then we did some exploring around Banff.
We got up bright and early the next day - we had booked our ride for 10 am. As you can imagine, we absoultely did not want to be late and miss it again, so we left very, very early. We arrived at about 8:15 am, and luckily we were allowed to ride at 9:00 am (You have to arrive at 8:30 am for a 9:00 am ride).
Before I tell you about the riding experience, here's a bit about Banff Trail Riders.
First of all, the website for Banff Trail Riders is actually horseback.com, which is a little different and interesting.
They've been around since 1962, and are the exclusive horseback riding operator in Banff. They're also the only outfitter in the Canadian Rockies with their own lodges and campsites inside the National Park.
Banff Trail Riders is located on 138 Banff Ave, Banff, Alberta.
You can pick from 17 different trips, from easy rides to tough treks. You can have a short ride or you can go on a horseback ride that ends with a BBQ steak cookout. You can also book to stay for a few nights at a lodge in backcountry.
The Bow River Ride is 1 hour long, and it runs every hour on the hour from 9-5 pm. It's available from April to October.
The first thing we did was get some basic horseback riding instruction. When it was time for our ride, we collected our helmets and then met in a pen area to be paired with our horses and receive instruction.
We learned Western style horseback riding. I learned the correct feet position when horseback riding - toes up and hees to the ground, applying a bit of pressure. We also learned how to make the horses go left and right, and how to ride in the most comfortable way for both ourselves and the horses.
We were warned not to let our horses munch away at the fresh grass along the trail. This was good advice, because a few of the horses really did try to eat on the ride, and once you allow them once, they'll get stubborn and try again!
Overall we had a great ride. We saw some really beautiful scenery. The Bow River ride takes you along the Bow River of course, and past the historic Cave and Basin site.
I would definitely recommend this ride especially if you'd never been horseback riding before. The pace is slow and steady, and you get to feel really comfortable with your horse. Of course the horses are well-trained, and you always feel in control.
There were guides at the front and back of the group. I had a lovely tour guide who told us about the area and interesting spots to check out. She had only been here for a few months from New Zealand but she did a brilliant job of telling us about the location and was very knowledgable about the horses.
One thing to note about the ride is that all particpants must be 8 years of age or older. If you've got children younger than that, Banff Trail Riders also offers 15 minute Pony Rides throughout the day. It's perfect for kids between ages 3-7.
So that's my experience and review of the easy Bow River Ride at Banff Trail Riders. I would definitely go horseback riding again!
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