Clip-clop. Clip-clop. Horse hooves clatter on the loose rock as they journey down the canyon towards the Crooked River below. The Central Oregon sun peeks over the canyon wall, glinting off of the water’s current. Dragonflies surf the Juniper breeze, And the heady, earthy scent of horse mane fills the air.
It’s a breathtaking day.
A group of Ranch at the Canyons landholders are touring the beauty of the Ranch in the best way possible… on horseback. Miles of private trails wind them through the serene meadows and conservation land, past gorgeous lakes and down into the canyons of the Ranch. The trails of Smith Rock State Park are just next door, creating even more stunning possibilities.
From May through September, professional horse trainer, guide and instructor Brian Thomas leads Ranch owners through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the West. His life has been one of adventure, culminating in the best job ever… helping people to understand and appreciate horses.
That spirit of adventure is now available to our Ranch community.
Brian Thomas discovered his passion for horses when he followed his childhood dream to move out west to Arizona. But he also had another desire: to live in Alaska. After selling everything he possibly could and moving to Juneau, he realized that owning a horse in Alaska is both difficult and expensive. He began working for a sport fishing lodge and eventually became a partner in an Alaska-Mexico sport fishing business. It was there that he met his wife, Melanie.
The couple eventually ended up in the Jackson Hole area, where they remained for 14 years. During that time, Brian split his year between working for Jackson Hole Outfitters in the Fall, leading deep-sea fishing excursions to Mexico in the Winter and guiding fishing expeditions in Alaska in the Summer. That frenetic lifestyle eventually led to Brian crafting a life that allowed him to be home more often. He sold his charter business in 2006 to pursue his love of horses and become a professional horse trainer.
He wanted to train with the best, so Brian enrolled in John & Josh Lyons “Complete Horsemanship” certification program. It provided a thorough education about horses as well as how to run a successful horse training business. That same year, he became a John & Josh Lyons Certified Trainer and in 2007 completed the Josh Lyons Accreditation Program. Brian was then asked to stay on and assist in teaching the certification program to other students from 2007-2009, which was a huge honor and privilege. In 2010 and 2011, Brian worked at the Lyons Legacy Facility in Nashville, TN, teaching his methods while learning new techniques from Josh Lyons.
Since then, Brian has had the privilege of working with a wide range of horse owners, from backyard enthusiasts to A-list celebrities. While in Jackson Hole, he was even contacted by Harrison Ford’s ranch manager. Ford, an established horseman, had purchased horses from the set of “Cowboys and Aliens” and was experiencing an array of discipline problems. The deal was to have Brian work with the horses while Ford was away. But one day, Brian came to the ranch to find Harrison Ford, back early from a trip, walking the horses. They established a solid friendship while working through the issues Ford’s horses were experiencing.
Brian and his wife moved to Central Oregon a year ago and the Trail Riding program was introduced at Ranch at the Canyons shortly after their arrival. Brian was instantly endeared to the stunning landscape of the Ranch, noting,
“To not be able to ride a horse through this property would be a sin.”
(Meet the Ranch horses: Ellie, Sonny, Slim, Dreamer and JLo)
As the Ranch’s horse trainer and guide, Brian leads landholders on day trips throughout the Ranch’s vast acreage. He uses his own horses and designs the trips at whatever level the landholders are comfortable with.
Brian also helps Ranch landholders with any issues they may be experiencing with their own horses. His ethos is:
Be safe. Learn to control your horse. Stay confident.
“Discipline is important,” says Thomas. “Giving horses a ‘job’ is one of the most important things you can do.” Helping forge that bond between horse and rider is one of the best parts of being trainer, according to Brian.
Ranch at the Canyons is thrilled to have someone with Brian’s experience and expertise at the helm of our Trail Riding program. His intimate knowledge of the land and of horses makes him the perfect guide for landholders to discover the romance and beauty of the Ranch.
Equestrian-friendly living and easily accessible trail riding are just a few of the many amenities that make Ranch at the Canyons unique among luxury ranch communities. Want to learn more about what makes us so special? Give us a call at 541-410-1056
To check out more of Brian’s work, please visit: www.BrianThomasHoresmanship.com