Riding the range at Spring Lake Ranch

Zoe Mosimann leads her horse around the yard at Spring Lake Ranch. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Kelly Kelsey mounts her horse at Spring Lake Ranch. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Tayler Kelsey (from left) rides through the snow alongside Kelly Kelsey, Arien Elizabeth and Zoe Mosimann at Spring Lake Ranch. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Zoe Mosimann, Spring Lake Ranch's part-time cowgirl, laughs as she rides backwards while out for a ride. 
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Spring Lake Ranch's Vera crosses the yard in the late afternoon. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
(Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Not a lot of people want to ride a horse in minus-15C weather but for Zoe Mosimann, it’s all in a day’s work.

Mosimann, a ranch hand at Spring Lake Ranch near 100 Mile House, has spent the past year leading tourists and locals on one-hour trail rides or sleigh rides across the ranch.

“It’s kind of the same routine all year round, it’s just you have more rides in the summer because not many people want to ride in -15C weather,” Mosimann, 17, said.

Run by John and Myrna Barkowsky, Spring Lake Ranch is one of the few winter tourist guest ranches in the South Cariboo continuing to operate year-round. Tourism numbers are down this year, due to COVID-19, but the ranch is still doing steady business with the occasional guest and locals coming out to ride.

Rides are done by appointment only, as part of the COVID restrictions the ranch put in place last year. This also includes not providing meals to any guests as all cabins are equipped with refrigerators and kitchens.

John Barkowsky said Spring Lake Ranch is fortunate to be located in a wide-open space during the pandemic.

As it is part working ranch and part resort, this means they are in a fairly strong position financially but are thankful for whatever business comes their way, he said.

“COVID-19 has definitely taken a bite out of our income but (running this place) has always been fun for Myrna and me, both to meet new people and to accommodate them,” he said.

When it comes to locals coming out to Spring Lake to try horseback riding for the first time, Barkowsky joked they’ll give beginners “a horse with no experience as well.” In seriousness, he said the ranch has a variety of horses for all skill levels and people enjoy riding them into the area and “seeing nobody.”

READ MORE: 108 Mile: Ride a horse, hit a golf ball, eat a steak

On a brisk Saturday afternoon, Mosimann led a small group of locals out for an hour-long trip around the property, a picturesque spot located a half-hour drive from 100 Mile House. The group was small – a handful of experienced riders and one – a Free Press reporter – who had never been on a horse before.

Mosimann acknowledges it can be daunting for first-time riders getting on a 1,200-pound animal. As part of her job, she encourages newbies to try spending some time with them before getting on. This will help them get a feel for what a horse is and demystify them, she said. As a horse can feel the emotions of the rider and will sense their nervousness, she urges riders to take a few calming breaths and centre themselves.

Mosimann, who lives in 108 Mile Ranch and will graduate high school this year, said horses have always been a big part of her life. When she’s not leading a ride, Mosimann helps around the ranch, burning waste wood and old Christmas trees, cleaning out the guest cabins, and helping Barkowsky run sleigh rides or the cows with calving.

After high school, she hopes to attend Thompson Rivers University’s Applied Sustainable Ranching Program and eventually start a ranch of her own.

“You kind of do your job and you just fall in love with all of it. I’d never done any guest rides before and those can just be fun. Sometimes you have people who want to go fast or people who just want to go slow,” Mosimann said. “I enjoy spending time training some of the horses, going out and doing some branding on the cows and seeing them when they’re calving is super cute because the calves come out fluffy and adorable.”

She urges everyone to try a ride if they haven’t already. “There are so many things that you could do that you wouldn’t even imagine doing at home,” she said. “Everyone leaves with a smile on their face.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School District 27 (SD27) issued notice Thursday, Feb. 25 of a COVID-19 exposure at Mountview Elementary School. (Angie Mindus photo)
School district reports positive COVID-19 case in Williams Lake elementary school

A letter went home to families of Mountview Elementary School

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City of Williams Lake seeks feedback on hosting junior hockey league team

A league expansion application in Quesnel is also pending

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

LADDER USED IN FIRE FIGHT: While smoke billows out of the second floor of the Maple Leaf Hotel, members of the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department fight to contain the blaze. The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze that wreaked havoc on the interior of the 57-year-old hotel. One man, Harold Hurst of Riske Creek, died in the fire. (Ernest Engemoen photo - Williams Lake Tribune, April 12, 1977)
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Ladder used in fire fight

The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read