Ranch Chez Cowboy
1125, chemin Sainte-Marie
Mascouche, Québec J7K 3C2
Not everyone thinks about driving up to Mascouche, north of the islands of Montréal and Laval, just to go horseback riding. But that is precisely what we did after my boyfriend told stories about this ranch that he visited in the past called Ranch Chez Cowboy. I was curious; as a city girl I rarely deal with horses though I admire the horse-drawn carriages in the Old Port neighbourhood of Montréal. And I love animals, that is for sure. So we thought we would go visit the ranch in the old, sleepy town of Mascouche as a fun and different activity.
When drove through the rural town, passing the developed downtown area, an old cemetery, a tiny church, and finally into the driveway of the ranch. We were greeted by gaggle of geese and their token turkey friend who huddled beneath a trailer adjacent to the barn. A pen of outdoor dogs barked furiously at us and did not seem subdued by my waving and smiling. They acted tough but I still liked meeting the clowns.
We went into the barn to inquire about the rates for horseback rides, which were $20 per hour, or $35 for two hours. We had already seen the rates on the Tourisme des Moulins website for the Terrebonne and Mascouche areas, which has summary information on the ranch in French only. They brought three horses for us: A short one for my height-challenged self, a regular sized horse for my boyfriend, and one for a young girl who would guide us along the trails.
The ranch is surrounded by fields of working horses, barns, and 30 km of trails thick with pine trees. As Montréal and area remains snowy, the trails were a beautiful contrast of white and green, and we rode through the trails mainly silent. It was almost like a meditative meeting with nature: snow covering the foliage, and silence except for the trotting horses whom provided a bumpy journey through the woods.
I was dressed in my parka, a wooly hat, mitts, jeans with long johns, and winter boots, and I was happily warm throughout the ride. Since the rides are at least one hour in length, I definitely recommend wearing warm footwear and layering clothes for winter touring. You may be covering distances with the help of your horse friends, but you are pretty much remaining stationary on their backs so there is not much opportunity to move your bodies to help emit heat.
Additionally, I would remind those planning a horseback riding trip to remember that you will smell like the majestic beasts even after driving away in your car. My winter mittens definitely smelled like my short horse friend, and especially after I took some time to pet one of the donkeys residing in the barn. The donkey was a very stubborn fellow and was getting yanked out of the barn when we came back from the ride. He must have been up to no good as he was expelled out to the entrance of the barn, and stood there, all petulant and gloomy, and flickered his ears. I came by to say hello but he ignored me, and stood there and sulked. He was quite the quintessential donkey.
Ranch Chez Cowboy is just 37 km north of Montréal and is about a 35 minute ride up along Autoroute 25. From Montréal, go north on Autoroute 25, take Exit 23 for Québec 337 North, and merge on Boulevard Moody to continue venturing north. Turn right at Chemin Newton, and after about 4 km turn right at Chemin Sainte Marie. The ranch, at 1125 chemin Sainte-Marie, will be on the right.