Jandana Ranch horseback riding vacation near Kamloops, Canada

A Natural Way to Ride at Jandana Ranch

Driving through the gentle winding roads just outside of Kamloops,  Canada I couldn’t help but think this is a horse riders haven. The scenery changes from flat desert to rolling hills filled with blackberries and wilderness to green fir trees and lakes.

Jandana Ranch features over 500 acres of rolling hills and serene lakes

Turning up the driveway to Jandana Guest Ranch we knew that this was going to be an amazing horseback riding vacation. Two rustic log cabins were up the road just added to the wilderness experience. Dave and Janice Jarvis, owners of the ranch came out to meet us, after introductions and a quick run down of the ranch we were shown to our accommodations for the next few days. We walked in the doors of little cottages that overlook the green expanse of forest, mountains and a tiny pond just below. A walk through the door leads to a small kitchen, small living area, bathroom and bedroom. Yep, felt like home to us, it had everything we need to survive and it was comfortable.

Heading to the horse barn

Janice is an expert in natural horsemanship techniques

We quickly threw our luggage into the bedroom and headed over to the barn and say hi to our new friends who will be carrying us through for the next few days. We were anxious to get going. Jandana Ranch had many horses and as far as I can tell each one was calm and used to people. Some of the different breeds are Thoroughbred, Warmblood, Quarter Horse, Arabian, and Standardbred of which many of these horses are rescues. I love to hear when our four legged buddies that have had a questionable past come to a place where they never have to worry about abuse or starvation ever again. And, you would never know that any of these were ever abused, they all looked very well fed and had shiny coats.

Natural horsemanship at Jandana Ranch

The reason we picked Jandana Ranch is that Janice is very involved with Natural Horsemanship. This is a training technique that teaches you how to communicate with your horse in a way where it’s a partnership instead of us just making them do what you want to do. Instead you ask them in ways that make it fun for them and you will notice that they start to look forward to those lessons. The definition of this type of training is “Natural horsemanship is the philosophy of working with horses by appealing to their instincts and herd mentality. It involves communication techniques derived from wild horse observation in order to build a partnership that closely resembles the relationships that exist between horses.”

Natural horsemanship calls for mutual respect and appreciation between horse and rider

Natural Horsemanship gets you into the psyche of the horse and help avoid a fight which can have devastating results. Especially for new riders this is a great way to start to avoid becoming fearful or distrustful. Its not something you learn overnight because each horse is different along with rider so it becomes a school and you take one point at a time. You work slowly but steadily until it becomes second nature. I had a horse that would not back or give his head. We worked for about 15 minutes at a stand asking him to give and at the slight movement I would drop the reins which was a reward in itself. The more we did this the quicker he responded. Within 30 minutes he was giving and following the pressure easily and eventually backed up perfectly.

Janice has been very active by attending as many Natural Horsemanship clinics as possible. Some of her favorites are Pat Parelli, Mark Rashid who by the way has written many good books that will keep you laughing for hours, and Karen Rohlf who specializes in dressage just to name a few. Janice has a natural ability with this style of training and holds Horsemanship clinics at the ranch regularly. What I love about her is she has taken horses that owners had given up on and by humanely working with them created a transformation of fear to reliable and happy.

Astron is a star pupil of natural horsemanship

Once such horse is Astron a 13 year old dappled dressage horse who was very spoiled and learned to fight with his owners.  They felt he would never amount to much so they sold him to Janice who was delighted to accept the challenge. She quickly found Astron to be smart, willing and gentle and worked with all of his good attributes. She now uses him as an example and takes pleasure in riding him without a bridle.

I was raised with horses but learning these techniques were new and exciting for me. My husband on the other hand hasn’t been on a horse since he was a kid, so before any ride it was time for a quick lesson. Janice had us stand with our horses while she explained the basics and gave us an overview on how to communicate with our horses. Then she actually had us work with them from the ground which was a good start for the less experienced.

Jandana Ranch offers riding experiences for people of all different skill levels, from beginner to expert

After a little training it was time to head out for a trail ride. Jandana Ranch is on Crown Land which gives you access to hundreds of miles that you can explore. What kind of scenery will you explore on this horseback riding vacation? Well, just about everything imaginable. Starting out you venture through lofty rolling hills that lead to thick forests and stunning green meadows and lakes. There are even open areas where you can just relax at a slow easy pace, or for the more adventurous enjoy a good canter.

Canadian horseback riding vacation with different experience levels

The best part was we rode with a small group of riders of different levels of experience. What I love about group riding is that each person can teach you something, whether they have been riding for 50 years or this is a first ride. Kids especially, they bring a refreshing love of the outdoors and a reminder that horses enjoy the ride too. It was fun getting to know them and hear about their previous experiences with horses.

Jandana Ranch has over 45 horses roaming the property in herds

Our ride was just what we needed, it was so beautiful and if not talking there is a peaceful quiet that is quite relaxing. The weather was warm and the sun shining the horses were amazingly well behaved and this could not have been a better ride.

Jandana Ranch is open in summer, fall, winter, and spring for a unique riding experience in British Columbia

There’s more than horseback riding at Jandada Ranch

If heaven forbid you happen to burn out on riding and have a passion to fish you are in luck. A short 15 minute drive is a wonderful fishing spot at Pinantan Lake where catching your limit is the norm. A 12 pound trout was landed by one of the guests recently. Other sports in the area include hiking and golfing. In fact there are eight golf courses within 30 minutes of Kamloops.

Bring your horse on this riding vacation

At Jandana Ranch you are welcome to bring your own horse. You will need to bring a recent Health Certificate along with a Cogins test. Let them know ahead of time to make sure there is a stall available.

If you prefer to camp, Jandana also has campsites available with hookups for motor homes in a park setting.

I leave you with one of my favorite stories Janice laughingly told us about two women who visited from Germany. Other than riding, their major goal was to see a real North American bear. They rode twice a day in hopes of catching a glimpse of one. Finally, it was their last day and they had all but given up but decided to take a chance one last time. They took a trail that led by a small lake in the hills. Along the lake they noticed a beaver playing in the water near the shoreline. Like any nature lover they wanted to get a closer look. Trying to ride as quietly as possible they managed to sneak up on the playful little guy. Getting within a few feet from him all of a sudden it rose quickly into the air and imagine their surprise when it wasn’t a cute little beaver, but a large Black Bear! Were their hearts pumping? You bet! They might have had a scare, but they also have a story they can tell for the rest of their lives.

If You Go:

Jandana Ranch 1-800-573-5881

3352 Pinantan0Pritchard Road

Pinantan Lake, British Columbia



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This is a guest post by Nancy Pitman a horse enthusiast since a child. Growing up with ponies, Quarter Horses and Tennessee Walkers, she grew up showing Western Pleasure, sometimes gaming and now is happy to trail ride in the Oregon Cascades. Nancy has a passion for travel and was a top consultant for over 25 years. With that passion she created a website Strictly Europe. All photos courtesy of Jandana Ranch.

Natural horsemanship resources:

Mark Rashid:  www.markrashid.com

Pat Parelli:  www.parellinaturalhorsetraining.com

Karen Rohlf :  www.dressagenaturally.net