When I brought Piper home last Fall, I had every intention of Shiloh and me hitting the trails on a regular basis in 2022. My thinking was that Bear and Piper could keep each other company while I took Shiloh out and about.
Unfortunately, the Spring of 2022 started off much wetter than usual, delaying the start of my at-home riding year.
Then once the weather dried up, Shiloh and I managed only two off-the-property rides before the Summer of 2022 became a real scorcher.
I finally got out on the trails again in September when cooler weather arrived. That ride went well, and I was so looking forward to getting in a handful more trail rides before Winter. Fall is my absolute favorite time to trail ride with its cooling temperatures, interesting foliage and lots of crunchy leaves under the horse’s hooves. The feel, the sites and the sounds of Fall trail riding can be magical.
Unfortunately, Bear was unexpectedly euthanized just two days after that September trail ride. All my future Fall trail riding plans died with him. Now that I have just the two horses at home again, I am hesitant to take Shiloh out by himself and leave Piper at home alone.
If you’ve been reading this blog recently, you know that I’ve instead been working on separating them at home. It is going okay, but I can tell it continues to be somewhat stressful for them, even when I’m taking one of them just a couple of acres away at most.
Still, I hated to miss out on Fall trail riding altogether. The leaf colors this year have been especially vivid. I really wanted to enjoy this Autumn’s beauty from the back of a horse. I decided to do a guided trail ride on a rental horse at a nearby park venue.
It is part of the same park system where I rode Shiloh in September, but the guided rides take place on a different side of the park. I visited this particular trail riding outfit a handful of times, just after I retired Bear and didn’t have a horse to ride at home anymore.
While I might quibble with some of their trail ride procedures and their tack choices, their horses look well-fed, well-shod and seem temperamentally suitable to the task. I especially like that most of the horses are owned by a gentleman who takes them back home during the Winter and then returns them to this trail outfit in the Spring, providing stability and continuity for horses and staff alike. I recognized several of the same horses in the string from five years ago.
This time around, I rode a quarter horse-type gelding named Josh. Here he is dozing before the ride.
We rode in a group of six riders. The guided ride wound through woods and around open prairie. It was slow, quiet and relaxing. All the horses did their jobs well. It was an excellent Fall day. Sunny, in the sixties and with light winds.
Was it the same as taking my own horse out on the trails? Well, no. I’m still bummed about missing out on more trail rides with Shiloh. It bothers me seeing my horse trailer just sit there. All dressed up and no place to go. It’s certainly been a different kind of Autumn season for me than what I expected.
Nonetheless, I was grateful for this recent trail riding opportunity. And the horse, Josh, here was no doubt grateful to get a drink at the end of the ride.
What about you? If you could only pick one season to trail ride, which season would you say is your favorite?