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Ranch vacation Canada
This ranch, snuggled between Jasper National Park and Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park, is ideal for a horse riding holiday. No matter what your riding experience, you will find something to love here. Lessons are available with highly experienced and knowledgeable trainers, or the guides can take you out on one of any number of trails in the Canadian countryside. With three mountain ranges, forests and open plains all around you, there will be no shortage of adventures!

Accommodation is in comfortable cabins nestled in a beautiful forest giving breath-taking views of the mountains. Become part of the ranch family as you sit around the camp fire swapping stories and soaking up the Canadian wilderness.

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There are three programmes available at the ranch; Lessons, Trails, or Combo. Programmes can also be customised to suit your experience and interests and additional riding can also be purchased on site. The following is an example of a Combo programme:

Day 1
Arrive in the afternoon. Settle in to your cabin and take some time to check out the town and visit the local supermarket.

Day 2
Breakfast is brought to you in the cabin before your first lesson with one the Irwin-qualified tutors. The focus is on working in harmony with your horse, developing a greater understanding and trust between you to make you a better rider. In the afternoon take a ride out to explore some of the trails around the ranch.

Day 3
Take a relaxed breakfast in your cabin before attending a workshop. Before evening sets in, you ride out on the trails to find a good spot for the cowboy cook-out. Sitting around a campfire with the dinner cooking and swapping stories you really feel part of the ranch family.

Day 4
Today you have another lesson in the outdoor arena, working on whatever aspects of riding and horsemanship interest you most. The rest of the day is free.

Day 5
This morning you can explore more of the Canadian countryside on another trail ride. In the afternoon you take part in the trail obstacle workshop, learning how to deal with common problems when riding out calmly, without fear or stress to you and your horse. Enjoy traditional games and try your hand at cowboy skills at the ranch night in the evening.

Day 6
Today you set out on a half-day trail ride into the Canadian countryside. Enjoy views of the mountains as you trek through forests and canter across open meadows. Return to the ranch about 2pm.

Today you have your second workshop which might be on reading body language or learning how to lunge productively and respectfully. The rest of the day is free to relax, explore the ranch or arrange other activities in Valemount.

Day 8
On your final day set out on a trail ride into the countryside surrounding the ranch. In the afternoon it is time say goodbye to the horses and hands at the ranch, taking good memories and good horsemanship skills with you.

Lessons Programme:
The emphasis of the lessons programme is to develop the relationship between you and your horse to make you a better rider. Based on the Chris Irwin method, you can learn to read a horses body language and the appropriate responses to create a mutual trust and respect between you. Head trainer Lissy can help you improve your seat, boost your confidence on a horse and even teach you to ride through obstacles. Whatever your experience level, the lessons can be adapted to suit your abilities and goals.
The Lessons Programme includes 2 lessons per day per person, a ranch night with campfire, ranch games etc, and free use of the Chris Irwin DVD and Chris Irwin book collection

Trails Programme:
On this holiday you spend the week riding out on some of the many trails through the countryside all around the ranch in the beautiful Canadian mountains. There are also workshops to learn more about ranch life and a cook-out ride every week – sit around the campfire as you cook dinner in the traditional cowboy way. Some afternoons are left free for you to fill or relax as you wish, and ranch staff are always happy to give suggestions or help you arrange something in nearby Valemount, such as ATV rides, rafting and jeep tours.
The Trails Programme includes 6 Explorer rides per person, a half day trail per person, cowboy cook out ride per person, trail obstacle workshop per person, ranch night with campfire, ranch games etc.

Combo Programme:
The best of both worlds, this option includes both lessons and trail riding. Take a few lessons to improve your horsemanship skills and then put them into practice as you explore the trails around the ranch. This is a great option for riders looking to improve their confidence while still enjoying the beauty of the Canadian countryside.
The Combo Programme includes a ranch night with campfire ranch games etc., cowboy cook out ride, 3 explorer trail rides per person, 2 liberty workshops per person, 2 lessons of choice per person (can be riding or groundwork).

There are plenty of other activities in the surrounding area. The ranch can help you organise any of these during your stay. Hiking and cycling, white-water rafting, fishing, boating, swimming, ATVing, golfing, wildlife adventures, canoeing, and geocaching are all available. There are also several art studios and museums nearby. Throughout the year various events take place in and around Valemount including rodeos, natural history presentations, mud racing and music festivals.

Packages for children available are arranged individually, please enquire if you would like more details.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

There is a herd of 25 horses on the ranch with a great mix of sizes and breeds. The horses range from miniature horses to big drafts. Some of these are rescue horses while others are experienced mountain horses or well-trained dressage horses. With such a selection there is a match for every rider available to help make your holiday truly special.

Horses are ridden in western saddles and tack. They have all been trained using natural horsemanship - the ranch favours the Irwin Insights method (http://chrisirwin.com/horsemanship/). There is a selection of hard hats and riding boots available for rent on the ranch - hard hats are compulsory for all riding activities. A safety briefing will be given to all riders at the start of their holiday. The ranch has an outdoor arena, round pen, trail obstacle course and demo arena on site.

The rides are in the middle of three mountain ranges - the Rockies, Cariboo and Monashee mountains - resulting in beautiful views all around! Guiding is available in Dutch, German and Swiss German as well as English. All holidays contain basic tuition but depending on which holiday you choose, more instruction is available.

Rider requirements

Riders of all ability are welcome at the ranch as the holiday can be adjusted according to the experience of the rider. Care is taken to ensure first time riders feel safe and confident and can work at their own pace. Equally, more experienced riders will be matched with a more sensitive and energetic horse.

For trails, riders will be grouped according to level of experience and the route selected will reflect this as well. More adventurous routes will be available to experienced riders, while novices will take more gentle rides closer to the ranch. Guests can learn about grooming and tacking horses, however only ranch staff are permitted to tack horses up before rides. The minimum riding age for this ranch is 10, however it is usually possible for younger children to have a led walk on a horse if requested.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 200 lb/91 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Accommodation is in one of the four cabins situated on the ranch, nestled amongst the forest trees. Each cabin has a bedroom with a king-size bed, bathroom with shower, living room with pull-out couch (queen size) and kitchen. Each cabin can sleep up to 4 people. Breakfast is included in the package, there is a supermarket and several restaurants about 5 minutes drive from the ranch allowing you to cook in your cabin kitchen or eat out in the local area. Basic toiletries are provided such as shampoo, body wash and lotion. WiFi is available in the cabins and common areas of the ranch.

Breakfast normally includes homemade bread, homemade muffins, fresh eggs, cheese, ham and fruit. The kitchens are furnished with a hotplate, microwave, fridge, basic spices, sugar, coffee and tea, a dishwasher and all necessary utensils. There is also a BBQ outside. A budget of 250 $CD per person per week is recommended for other meals.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: All travellers are required to provide details online 72 hours prior to travel.

Visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to or transit through Canada are expected to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Exceptions include U.S. citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa.

To visit Canada, you will need to meet some basic requirements, such as:
• have a valid travel document, such as a passport,
• be in good health,
• have no criminal or immigration-related convictions,
• convince an immigration officer that you have ties—such as a job, home, financial assets or family—that will take you back to your home country,
• convince an immigration officer that you will leave Canada at the end of your visit, and
• have enough money for your stay. (The amount of money you will need can vary. It depends on things such as how long you will stay, and whether you will stay in a hotel, or with friends or relatives.)

Citizens of a few countries may also need a:
• medical exam and
• letter of invitation from someone who lives in Canada.

For further information please visit http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp

The Canadian High Commission in the U.K is at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, London W1K 4AB. Telephone: (020) 7258 6600. Email: ldn@dfait-maeci.gc.ca.

The British Consulate in Canada is at 80 Elgin Street, Ottawa, K1P 5K7. Telephone: + (1) (613) 237 1530. Email: generalenquiries@BritaininCanada.org.

Climate Summary

Spring: Can be unpredictable, generally warm days and cold nights. (average:20 Celsius) end of spring mosquitos season starts, they can be quite bad so insect repellent is a good idea.

Summer: warmer sunny days, cool nights (average: 25 Celsius)

Autumn: Cooler days, still quite sunny. Beautiful spring colours in the mountains. (18 Celsius)

It is very hard to give a weather average. Since the ranch is in the middle of mountains, it can be very unpredictable. It is suggested to bring clothes for a range of temperatures as mountain weather can change so fast.

Climate Chart


Giardiasis is present so do not drink water from streams. Tap water is safe to drink. Rabies is endemic in Canada, do not approach stray dogs. Lyme disease can be a risk in wooded regions; it is a rare tick borne disease. Check with your doctor for details but apart from general precautions against tick bites no prophylaxis is usually required.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org and the Deprtment of Health also gives medical advice on their web site at www.dh.gov.uk


The voltage is 110-120V, 60Hz in Canada as in the USA and you will need a flat blade plug and possibly an adaptor depending on the appliance.

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity in the cabins to charge cameras and batteries. Spare batteries can be purchased in Valemount. WiFi is available on site.

Packing List

Riding helmet
Jeans or jodhpurs
Windproof jacket
Long sleeved shirts
Casual dinner wear
T - shirts
Rain gear
Sweater / fleece
Sneakers or soft shoes
Riding boots
Broad rimmed hat for sun protection
Insect repellant

The ranch does have a selection of boots and hats to borrow (free of charge).


This is an 8 day/7 night programme available between 1st May and 30th September, see website for set dates.

Departure Dates

2022: Please enquire for dates and prices

No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
Recommended Reading

The Penguin History of Canada - Kenneth McNaught. A basic but useful primer on the country's history. Native Peoples and Cultures of Canada - Allan Macmillan. This provides a historical framework and raises contemporary issues regarding Canada's Native people. City to City (also published as O Canada!: Travels in an Unknown Country - Jan Morris. This is a collection of essays written after she traveled in Canada from coast to coast. Maple Leaf Rag: Travels Across Canada - Stephen Brook. A somewhat quirkier collection of travel essays. The Road to Canada's Wilds: Parks Along the Trans Canada Highway - John and Martha Stradiotta describe the many national and provincial parks across the country in . For a taste of Canadian literature, read Margaret Atwood's Surfacing and Booker-winning The Blind Assassin, Alice Munro's The Moons Of Jupiter short story collection, Michael Ondaatje's In The Skin Of A Lion or Robertson Davies' Fifth Business .

Other Activities

There are plenty of other activities in the surrounding area. The ranch can help you organise any of these during your stay.
Hiking and cycling, white-water rafting, fishing, boating, swimming, ATVing', golfing, wildlife adventures, canoeing, and geocaching are all available. There are also several art studios and museums nearby. Throughout the year various events take place in and around the local town including rodeos, natural history presentations, mud racing and music festivals.


Bears (grizzly, black, and the Kermode) live here, as do deer, elk, moose, caribou, big-horn sheep, mountain goats, marmots, beavers, muskrats, coyotes, wolves, mustelids (such as wolverines, badgers and fishers), cougars, eagles, ospreys, herons, Canada geese, swans, loons, hawks, owls, ravens, harlequin ducks, and many other sorts of ducks. Smaller birds (robins, jays, grosbeaks, chickadees, and so on) are also abound. The ranch is also very close to a famous salmon spawning ground (August to September).

Other Information

Breakfast is the only meal included with the holiday. Cabins are equipped with kitchens for clients to make other meals, or there are a selection of restaurants, pubs, cafes and take-aways in the nearby town which is approximately 3kms away.

Other Country Information

People migrating from Asia crossing the Bering Strait first settled the North American continent. They formed a number of tribes that can be distinguished by language: the Algonquian in the eastern sub-arctic and maritime areas spreading into the prairies and plains of the mid-west; the Iriquioian speaking tribes mostly in the St Lawrence Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie; the Salishan, Athabascan and other linguistic groups lived along the rivers and coastline of British Columbia. Small, isolated Inuit bands developed a unique culture in the harsh environment of the Arctic.

John Cabot, a Venetian working in the service of the English sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. This and later explorations formed the basis of the English claim to Canada. The Frenchman Jacques Cartier undertook a series of explorations, mainly along the route of the St Lawrence River during the 1530s and 1540s and he claimed the land for France.

It's the edginess between Canada's indigenous, French and British traditions that gives the nation its complex three-dimensional character. Add to this a constant infusion of US culture and a plethora of traditions brought by migrants, and you have a thriving multicultural society.

Canada is between 3.5 and 8 hours behind GMT depending on where you are in the country. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +1.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
The ranch
2020: Car hire is strongly recommended. It's a 5 hour drive from the airport. A Sundog tours shuttle service is an option too from Edmonton Airport.
Flight Guide:
London to Edmonton from £510
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