Discovering Manitoba

Manitoba's new Horse Whisperer

“I love it here,” Judy Graile say. “There is so much space to run free and the horses are so happy to be here.”

Judith Graile used to jump from planes for fun. Now she raises and trains horses and horsemen in western Manitoba with the same aplomb. Judith is a former skysurfer, a one-time member of the German national team. She always had a love for horses, but for many years she lived to jump from planes while the horses stayed earthbound behind the hangar.

Now at 45, she wants a saner life, so she decided to airlift her five horses to Canada and start a dude ranch. She picked her place near Inglis after travelling for two years throughout B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. When she came across the Parkland region of Manitoba, she knew immediately that this is where she wanted to establish her dream. Serendipitously, her immigration papers, applied for two years before, came through at almost the same time.

Last April, found the ranch she has now. She didn’t hesitate. By July 1, she was up and running. The house was renovated with fresh, modern space for guests. The horses were in their new home and acclimatized, and she already had bookings from Germany and Switzerland in place for the fall.

“I love it here,” she says. “There is so much space to run free and the horses are so happy to be here.” She said that when she first let them loose after their arrival, they seemed a bit bewildered by all the freedom and space. “They galloped across the field then came back to me,” Judith laughs.

Now they have lots of company. Judith has added to her herd for a total of 21 horses. She has also acquired four llamas, four dogs and some cats. Oh, and two cows, which are supplemented in the summer by animals from a neighbouring farm so that the visiting dude ranchers can “play cowboy” and learn to herd the cattle. The neighbours get free feed and care for their animals, so it’s a good deal all around.

Judith has done most of this work on her own, although she says the neighbours have been wonderful. She has a 26-year old son who is a pilot and currently lives in Vancouver. But he would like to live and work here, says his mother, if he can find work for a pilot in the vicinity. Meanwhile, Judith has a couple of students from Germany who work with her over the summer, helping out with the animals and taking guests on trail rides.

One of her full time occupations is training horses and riders. “I studied with Monty Roberts, the Horse Whisperer from California,” says Judith, who fully subscribes to his methods of using gentleness and communication through body language and understanding equine psychology. Her training course is fully booked right through to summer, when a few spots open up in June.

The same is true of the bed and breakfast at the ranch. “I can only take a few people at a time, “ she says, “And August is fully booked with people from overseas.” She still has a few openings for July.

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