Five Tips for Fall Horse Riding (Revised 9-28-2021)
By Robert Eversole and TrailMeister.com
Fall is one of my favorite seasons to ride. The colors, the brisk breezes, and the lack of bugs and humidity make this a fabulous time to go out for a long ride. Every season brings its own set of considerations to a trail ride, and Fall is no different. Here are my top five Tips for Fall Horse Riding!
The Weather is Changing
Night and mornings are becoming brisker just as quickly as the nights are becoming longer. Be sure to dress in layers to accommodate the cooler temps in the morning, followed by summer-ish temps in the afternoon. Protect your horses (and mules) by making sure that you end your rides early enough that they can dry completely before dark or by keeping a light blanket handy to prevent chills.
The fall season often means the return of rain. If you’ve stashed your rain slicker over the summer, now is an excellent time to dig it out, lest you discover first-hand how chilly an afternoon shower can be.
Winds are Blowing
Falls changing temps often bring along breezes to carry horse-eating leaves. My animals sometimes act as though the woods are full of equine-eating monsters at this time of the year. Where we see glorious leaves of gold and scarlet, our horses may see monsters.
Hooray! The mosquito and fly populations are starting to drop, and trail crossing spider webs are becoming somewhat less common. One insect that hasn’t entirely wrapped up its season yet is the yellow jacket. Peak yellow jacket activity occurs in late summer and early Fall as their food interests switch from protein to sweets (which is why you see them buzzing around soda cans). They are also becoming more aggressive as they prepare for a long winter.
Leaves Obscuring the Trail
Last week, a clearly defined trail through the woods may now be hidden beneath a golden carpet of fallen leaves. Unless the trail is well signed, you might find yourself late for dinner if you become disoriented. Make sure that you bring along a navigation aid (I think a traditional map and compass is the best) and the knowledge to use it.
Those leaves may not only obscure your intended route. They might also be hiding holes or unsafe footing waiting to trip your horse. Be aware and be careful.
Hunting Seasons are at their Peak
Fall is not only ushered in with leaves of golden hues but also jackets of blaze orange. Autumn and Fall are the prime hunting season in most of the US. With hunting season comes the need to be more alert and informed. Know which trails are in hunting areas and also know which riding areas are closed to hunting. Regardless of whether hunting is allowed or not, it’s a good idea to be visible, so brush the dust off the orange and wear it.
You can find hundreds more trail riding and horse camping tips in the soon-to-be-released book “ABCs of Trail Riding and Horse Camping.” Find it at www.TrailMeister.com along with more information on hundreds of trail riding and horse camping areas in California, including accurate driving directions, pictures, GPS tracks, and more.