Turning up the driveway with a cloud of dust billowing behind my car the first thing I see is horses, 122 of them to be exact.
I’m at Sundance Guest Ranch, near Ashcroft, B.C., for a day living out my cowgirl dreams.
Open from April to the end of October, Sundance gives guests a true western experience with rides for hours in the morning and afternoon or evening each day.
Miranda Treloar, the head wrangler at the ranch, greets me and gives me a tour of the buildings, cozy rooms, an open and relaxed lounge, and a large dining room with air conditioning give us brief reprieve from the heat.
Back outside we walk through a large pen to where two horses wait, Molly and Dawson. We groom them and tack them up quickly before heading out on a trail that leads back down the driveway then follows alongside a dirt road.
Treloar explains how many guests return year after year, some even ten times in a single season, creating a family atmosphere.
“Our guests are like family and have ended up being some of my closest friends,” she says.
Having worked at other guest ranches previously, she says she loves how well the animals are taken care of at Sundance.
“They get any food, vet care, or anything special that they need so they look amazing and perform well. Our business runs around these horses so we make sure they are happy and healthy which isn’t always the case with guest ranches.”
Soon we’re turning up into the mountains, climbing high above the Thompson River. At one point we stop to take photos of the view of the valley before continuing up the mountain to the top.
We move on quickly and gallop up a small hill where we stop for lunch.
It feels like we’re the only people for miles, out somewhere on the 1,200 acres they ride on.
Treloar talks more about why she loves the job. She said her favourite part is caring for the herd alongside their vet.
“We get a lot of our horses from a rescue in Vancouver and they often aren’t in the greatest condition. I love watching them fatten and muscle up, you see their personality totally change,” she says.
She has her own two-year-old mare, Posie, at the ranch but has fallen in love with Molly.
After a few hours of riding we head back to the pen to unsaddle the horses and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the other aspects of the ranch like getting ice cold drinks from the bar and relaxing by the pool.
I can see why people keep coming back, even a one day visit feels like you’re away from it all and right at home.