After profuse apologies from the manager that the owner would not be able to accompany us on our trip due to another business venture, we were sent with a guide who had been on the mountain once before, in reverse. Miraculously, we did arrive at our destinations each of the two nights we spent on the adventure, but got lost repeatedly each day.
The second day, in 91 degree heat, our horses didn't get water for 15 hours. We rode them for about 7 of those hours, pushing them up and down long, steep slopes without taking a break. To portray the general attitude of our guide, my husband's horse got kicked in the side by our guide for rubbing its face on the guide's shoulder when he was tying it to a tree during lunch. The same day, he parked mine in the sun: My horse was black. The last day, we were just plain lost an hour after departure.
As the guide's tension rose on the last day, he ended up making a desperate decision to take us up a 2-foot wide dry creekbed for 2 hours where we had to hug the horses so we wouldn't get nailed by all of the sharp, thick branches. It was so rough that one of the faltering packhorses came back with 1-inch square patches of skin missing from its neck, up by its ear. He was a very experienced horseman, but not at all familiar with the mountain or trails. Keep in mind, the trails are not marked, our guide did not have a map, nor did he have a compass. We bought a map after the fact and realized that one of the trails the guide was thinking about taking us on was a "Climber's Only" route. Three people ended up with torn tack and my husband's saddle bags were ripped in half. We never did make it back to the ranch.
At 6:45 p.m. on the last day (we were supposed to be back mid-afternoon), I had to threaten to shoot off one of my flares for the trip to stop. We went to the newspaper, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as the Provincial Parks guide licensure bureau, to no avail. Be absolutely certain that you ask a lot of questions about the waiver you sign before departure. You sign at the bottom, but, yes, the only separate box you must initial within the waiver pertains exclusively to the guide.
Be sure the guide is experienced, and, most importantly, experienced on that particular trail/mountain. The sanitary conditions of the accomodations on the trail deserve separate mention as well: They're disgusting. I'm an experienced backpacker, so I'm not afraid of dirt or lack of showers. I just prefer not to have flies all over my food and I am not fond of gray bed pillows. I admit that the horses were the best I've ever ridden and the scenery was remarkable, but the treatment they received on this trip was absolutely nightmarish. The treatment we've received has been entirely dismissive.
Trust me, we are not neophytes to horseback riding. This was just plain wrong. I'm hoping for my own sanity that this was a one-time mistake and that it will never be repeated (for other guest's sake as well as the horse's). I think the owner was in a business bind and hope this was a fluke. I just wish they'd be more forthcoming.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.