At Gypsy Ridge Horseback Adventures, the trails are all maintained and the sights breathtaking.
As the sun gleams on the rippling water flowing within the Asessippi River, trees sway from a warm summer breeze, riding high or valley low, a great western retreat awaits all thanks to the mother-daughter team of Amanda Flintoft and April Webber, who currently live east of Birtle, but house the herd of horses in close proximity at Amanda’s parents’ place near Inglis over the course of the summer.
So if you are wondering how horseback riding became a business opportunity in the Asessippi resort area, situated northwest of Russell, it was based on a spur-of-the-moment idea.
“April was employed at the resort in the summer of 2018, and was approached by owner Damon Guillas in regard to doing some guided trail rides,” said Amanda. “At the time she wasn’t too sure what life’s road had in store for her, and I was looking for supplemental seasonal work over summer away from my employment with Park West School Division, so we decided to give it a try.”
That led them to this summer, with a business operating separately from the ski resort and offering services from Wednesday through Saturday. Rides are readily available, providing the footing on the trails isn’t too wet.
The gates opened at the beginning of June, and will remain open to the end of September, although as school gets back in, bookings will be juggled to accommodate.
Among the activities this summer was a pony instruction camp aimed at younger riders in the second week of August.
Amanda, who has been involved with horses and other livestock her entire life, welcomed the chance to introduce kids to horses.
“We are also happy to offer both rides in a fenced area and on the open prairie — trail ride style — with our trail area leaving from the resort expanding all the time.”
Backed by years of experience, prior to moving to Manitoba from her hometown of Aylmer, Ont., Amanda operated a barn where horses were boarded. It was here where she provided coaching, training, and stabling, to a wide variety of equestrians, maintaining about 45 horses. Her parents and grandparents have shared a passion for riding, and now daughter April is taking the reins, and learning every day.
For those interested to sit tall in a saddle and take in the splendid views overlooking the river or looking up- wards to the big rolling hills, memories of a day’s outing will cast memories of a lifetime. While no experience is necessary, a stringent set of insurance rules are in place including:
- Riders must wear boots with a heel;
- Anyone under 16 years old must wear a helmet; and
- Children under 10 must be ponied (led by another rider) down the trail.
According to the owner/operators, they have the right horse for just about anyone, despite being a relatively small outfitter starting with only eight horses, growing only to a maximum of 10, measuring 14.2 hands (close to five feet at mane) high.
With April wanting to breed and show Gypsy Vanner horses, and has a start with the purchase of a stallion two years ago, they hope to enlist some of his offspring in the future on trails, as Gypsy horses make a perfect match.
“Known for their willingness to please with an extremely unshakable demeanour, the Gypsy Vanner breed is perfect in helping nervous people learn about riding and handling,” Amanda said. “For the ridge portion of the name, it stems from the trails used along the river and the side of the valley itself. Blend them together and you have the catchy name of Gypsy Ridge.”
Both feel it’s a blessing to be able to share a passion of the freedom found in nature, and feel there is no better way to enjoy nature than to communicate with these amazing animals from a business or recreational standpoint. They are also happy to say, thus far, the public has been supportive of this new service or recreational pastime, casting beauty, also in the form of the grandeur of a horse.
“Spare time is quickly becoming a novelty in today’s busy world, but when one is horseback riding, nature has no deadlines and never rushes,” Amanda said. “It’s a change of pace that every person should take part in to provide clarity and inner peace.”