Trail Riding in Canada: A True Equestrian Love Story

When Equestrian Adventuress Jessica came to Canada as an exchange student, she was employed by a cowboy as a trail guide. She fell in love with Canada but little did she know Cupid had other surprises for her…

Author: Jessica Kosheiff

The Short Version

When people hear my British accent in small town Northern Alberta, they always wonder how I ended up here. Usually I give them the short version:

“I started off as an exchange student, fell in love with Canada and, as soon as I finished my degree, was on the first plane back. I ended up training horses for a cowboy and wrangling trail rides in the mountains. Then I met his son and the rest is history.”

A happy little family
Our little family. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

The Best Adventures are the Ones We Don’t Plan

I never really know where to start the long version. There are so many little stories that lead to all the little decisions that put me on the path to where I am now. So, maybe I’ll start right here, where I am right now – I am sitting at the dining table with my laptop, I have a coffee close to my right hand and my baby daughter is playing with some toys at my feet.

Maeva was born May 31st 2018. We hadn’t been married long when I got pregnant. Just like most things in my life, the best adventures are not planned. I had been told that it would be difficult for me to have children and would probably take a lot of fertility treatment for it to happen. I knew miracles existed, mainly because of the fact I got married in the first place, but that one sure blind-sided me!

Exchange Student in Canada

When I first came to Canada, I was a creative writing student bound and determined to find the best adventures. I flew half way round the world, by myself at 19 years old, to go to a place where I knew nobody. I had worked so hard to fund this expedition and twisted a lot of professors’ arms to make it happen. I’ll never forget opening the curtains of the hotel room to see mountains right outside my window. I instantly visualized myself on a horse riding up it.

A beautiful view over a valley in Canada while trail riding on horseback
This is the beautiful view from the day we met. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

I have always been drawn to horses. I was not from a ‘horsey’ family and as a kid got my fill from one riding lesson every week. This regular activity went on for 5 years, until one day when my mother and I were out walking in the woods with our dog.  We came across a lady with her daughter riding her horse and we got chatting. They invited me to their stables where they used to take in rescued or ‘problem’ horses, train them up then find them new homes. That place was where I really learned how to ride! The lady would also take us round the local show jumping circuits and attend the local horse trials.

Hiring: Cowgirls Wanted

When I came back to Canada, after finishing my university degree, I applied for a working holiday visa. Then I started traveling around British Columbia, the Yukon and eventually headed to Alberta. I was finding the best adventures and making many great stories, but the time came to get a job. While I was staying in a small oilfield town I noticed there were ‘hiring’ signs hung up at most businesses.  

Trail Riding in Canada near the Kakwa Mountain
Me on my horse Ace with Kakwa Mountain in the background from one of the first pack trips. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

I needed to open a bank account, so I could get a job, but while in the bank I actually hit two birds with one stone! After talking about my plans there, I was offered a job as a Teller, which I did for 3 months, then got a promotion to financial advisor (ironically the same date as my graduation back in the UK). It was at this new branch where I met a friend who took me out to Horse Trekking Adventures for my first trail ride.

Twist of Fate

I realize looking back that this doesn’t usually happen, but I convinced the owner to let me try out one of his green horses that just came back from the trainer.  Now I love a good spirited horse and rather enjoy the excitement of “the unknown.” To the owner’s surprise and my disappointment, there wasn’t much of a story other than it went very smoothly and was a lovely trail ride!

A few days later Harvey (the owner) called me to see what I had planned for the summer. My work visa was going to expire before my new one could be approved, so I would have to quit my job. I was going to find some new adventures and make some more stories.

Dean and Jessica are trail riding in Canada with two horses
Dean on his horse chip (one of the horses I trained in the “project pen”) and me on Maximo down at the Peace River. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

Harvey told me he had a project pen of horses that needed training and he needed help taking out trail rides- what a coincidence! His kids had grown up and moved out, so he and his wife Laureen had lots of room for me to stay. I chose the room with a view that looked out across the corrals. They told me it was their son Dean’s old room and bugged me about him showing up in the middle of the night thinking his room empty and climbing straight into bed.  If only I knew then what I know now!

Things Falling into Place

That summer I rode in the Rocky Mountains. I trained some wild horses and Harvey’s project pen became a lot smaller. My new visa was approved and a job opened up with my old company in the small town near the ranch. When things are meant to be it seems everything just falls into place.

proud couple presenting the engagement ring
Dean with a proud smile, me trying to keep it together, we took this picture and sent it to our parents. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

Not Ready to Get “Tied Down”

Thanksgiving was around the corner and Dean was heading home. I had heard a lot about him and saw childhood pictures of him with his siblings hung upon the walls of the family ranch house. He was the youngest child and had moved to the big city as soon as he finished school. I was hoping that there wouldn’t be any form of spark when we met- not even a glimmer! I still had many adventures left to endeavor and I did not want to get tied down.

He arrived at night and, luckily, didn’t go to his old room. I came down for coffee the next morning as usual. I looked across the room as I poured my coffee, he smiled at me and I thought to myself, “Shoot!” almost missing the cup!

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Our Ledge

That day we took out a large group for a trail ride up some steep hills that looked across a valley. It was cool enough to see the horse’s breath in the morning, but when we got to the top, we were unzipping our coats. Dean had come along to help with the ride. Much like the weather, I tried to stay cold but couldn’t help but warm up to him as the day carried on.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff in Alberta, Canada
This is where I thought the adventure began. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

There was a ledge that hung out above some crevices in the rocks below. I sat there and admired the burnt oranges and deep reds that brushed the valley. He took a picture of me sat by myself and told me I must stink real bad as no one wants to join me.

Two years to the day, he took me back to that same spot. We rode our horses up the steep hills, only this time there was snow on the ground. He told me to stand where I did in the picture, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

Dean and Jessicas Wedding Photo
This is where the adventure really began. Photo Credits: Jessica Kosheiff

Adventuring has a unique meaning with every individual’s perspective. For me, adventuring with someone who is on the same page as you makes for a better story. Getting married adds a new chapter and having a baby adds a new exciting character!

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