Fall is one of the best times to go for a trail ride. A couple of the best reasons are, cooler temperatures, your horse is fit from summer rides, changing leaves, and more abundant wildlife. For those privileged enough to be able to travel to more remote trails, the benefits of fall rides include less crowded trails and cheaper access fees to state and national parks.
Weather is usually more predictable during fall rides but that is no reason to be caught off guard. You should always pack a few essentials for your ride. Dressing in layers will have you prepared for temperature changes, or if you end up out later than you planned. A first aid kit for you, and for your horse is a must even on the shortest trail rides. Proper footwear is another necessity, keeping in mind there are many situations that could lead to you hiking out for help. Which also brings us to the importance of proper fitting footwear that won’t give you blisters or slow you down in an emergency.
Preparing your horse by desensitizing it to potential scary situations is another important tool for any trail ride. Gradually introducing your horse to things like cars, crinkling leaves, water, or step over gates that might be encountered on the trail will help you to avoid panic situations. Training ahead will also help you to be familiar with your horse’s body language, and subtle cues that may give you advance warning of a potentially dangerous situation. If something your horse deems dangerous does happen to come up, you will have the experience to help calm your horse or decide if an alternative route would be wiser.
Finally, one of the most important preparations for fall trail riding is telling a family member or friend where you're planning on riding, along with an estimated return time. Even if you are not riding alone or plan on having your cell phone or a GPS with you, technology has been known to fail. It is always safest to have a plan of action, it could save you precious time in an emergency. Whether your plan to ride a well-known trail or a brand new one it's always wise to play it safe.
No matter where you’re planning to ride this fall making proper preparations will enable you to relax and safely enjoy your time with your horse. That’s what trail riding is all about, taking the time to breathe deep and relax.