We waved goodbye to Alberta and caught our flight into a much milder Saskatchewan. Looking out of the plane window as we landed in Regina, I could appreciate the miles and miles of flat, uninterrupted landscapes that lay in stark contrast to what we’d witnessed so far. We’d moved from mountains to prairies and were thus reminded once more just how spectacularly diverse Canada is.
Like in Banff, we only had one full day to try and uncover some of Saskatchewan’s delights, so it was decided that we would focus on the unique culture of the Canadian cowboy (Canadian cowboys and authentic cattle ranches? I had no idea either). Thankfully, we spent our day here with Amy from Tourism Saskatchewan, who helped us to maximise our time in yet another enchanting province.
It was another early start for us as we began a three hour drive from Regina to La Reata Ranch. The road to the ranch was one of those endless highways we’ve all come to associate with the wild expanses of beautiful nothingness unique to North America. Looking ahead, I could see the road continuing on into the far distance, the clouds above it creating distinct shadows here and there. On either side of us was farmland, punctuated only by the occasional white wooden church or a lone farmhouse. The sense of space in Saskatchewan is something truly special. Away from any busy metropolis or high-rise building, it’s possible to view the landscape for as far as the eye can see (literally). We’d been told it’s an incredible place to watch storms, for the simple fact that with nothing blocking your view, one can watch the clouds and lightning rolling towards you from miles away. Unfortunately, no storms broke whilst we were there, but looking out from the open road, it was easy to imagine how exciting one would be here.Read more
Eventually we pulled down the long dirt track that led to La Reata. As you drive over the crest of the hill, acres of hilly grasslands spread out before you whilst the fluffy clouds, so stark and defined against the blue of the sky, look like they’ve been painted on to the landscape.
When we arrived we were met by George, the owner of the ranch. Enthusiastic and passionate about his horses and riding, George showed us round his wonderful creation. He’d bought the ranch in the nineties and the endeavour has gone from strength to strength, with people from all over the world coming to stay here, eager to try their hand at ranch life. As we walked down to the barn, we came across the group that were currently staying there. Throughout your visit, you’re trusted with the care of one horse, and at the time of our arrival each person was in the process of grooming and saddling up their holiday companions. Of the guests we spoke to, not one of them had a bad word to say. Quite the opposite in fact. They couldn’t give George, the horses and the ranch enough praise. The only negative we heard was the fact that they all had to say goodbye to their horse at the end, a bond having been built over a weekend, week or month (one guy in particular had extended his stay by five weeks).
We took a number of photographs as we watched the horses being attended to, and followed a group on horseback for a while before they disappeared into the distance. Then, after a delicious lunch overlooking the thousands of acres of La Reata, it was mine and Alex’s turn to mount our very own steeds. I was given Gus, a beautiful and forward going horse that proved to be great fun out on the ride. Alex, meanwhile, hopped on to Scooter, an ironic title considering his meandering pace. It suited Alex though, who’d not ridden before and wanted to capture some shots on route. We spent over an hour travelling across the endless fields that George calls home. We even got a quick gallop in right at the end (Alex and Scooter chose to skip that though).
It was a wonderful experience and an enlightening visit. A unique venture, La Reata has proven its worth for tourism in Saskatchewan and it was easy to see why. Even after just a day here I wanted to stay (and get to know Gus a bit more). But, like all great adventures, it had to come to an end, and before we knew it we were back on the highway, watching the sunset throw some vibrant and stunning colours into the sky.