Before he could even see over the horse’s back, Stew Brown was high in the saddle at just five-years-old.
Destined to be a cowboy, Brown rode through life working B.C. ranches, running a horseback hunting outfit and sharpening his spurs along the way.
Aside from a brief stint where he was roped into insurance sales, Brown has seldom dropped the reins.
Now he’s back in the saddle in Vernon since taking over Silver Star Trail Rides and re-branding the business as Wild Horseman Adventures.
Whether he’s showing the ropes to green riders or swapping trail tales with fellow cowboys, Brown puts all his efforts into making every ride memorable.
“I do this because I love it,” said the father of 13-year-old twin ranch hands Tyler and Stewie, who, like their father, have grown up around horses.
Since taking over the reins of the business in May, couples, families, small groups and individuals have hit the trails with Brown (and his faithful collie Blue Duck).
Even though all the horses are well-mannered, Brown gives each rider a lesson in control and safety beforehand and keeps a steady eye on everyone throughout the ride.
“I’ve done it my whole life, so I don’t miss much when it comes to safety,” said Brown.
And often, the time he takes with each rider leads to happy trails.
“I want to take the time with them,” said Brown, recalling one memorable ride where he helped a young shy girl gain the confidence to take control of her horse. “A couple hours of my time and it gave a kid a smile.”
Brown still offers trail and wagon rides, but with the help of his wife and ‘Pappy’ (father Stewart), is looking to expand the business beyond the six trail horses, four Percherons and two Canadians to offer even more adventure.
“The adventures part of it is still a bit of a dream right now, but it’s coming,” said Brown, listing half day, full day and overnight camping rides with meals, horse clinics and trapline adventures which he’d eventually like to bring on board.
The wild horseman also still has the popular winter sleigh rides in operation, now complete with dinner packages.
No thanks to the weather, Brown admits business hasn’t been as fruitful as he’d hoped. But the rainy summer start isn’t going to stop this cowboy.
“I’m not out to make a million dollars, but I’d like to make a living,” he laughs.
While the weather hasn’t co-operated, the resort and the people have been a pleasure.
“(They) Silver Star are really helpful and good to work with. They’re up for anything I want to do.”
And Brown is happy to call the region, whether its the charming city below or scenic mountain trails, home.
“I just love it, it’s unbelievably beautiful,” said Brown.