While some of us may be mourning the official passing of summer, fear not, though the winds of winter will blow soon… there’s plenty to do still in the autumn with your horse! Here are our favorite suggestions.
Yes, the halcyon days of summer may be behind us: here in my corner of Horse Nation, the days are noticeably shorter and the leaves are already changing. As I write this, it’s actively raining — a sort of slow, gray drizzle that beckons one to stay inside and do cozy things like drink tea and wear plaid.
For those of us in the cooler north, this is a time to reflect on our summer in the saddle, relishing our accomplishments, assessing our mistakes, thinking about our goals for next year and how far we’ve already come. Some of us may be mourning the end of another long, hot summer, sadly thinking about hanging up our tack and turning our horses out for the winter; a lucky few may have an indoor arena where they can work circles to their heart’s content.
But wait! Don’t be sad. There’s plenty of autumn ahead of us before the wild winds of winter start to blow, dropping ice and snow on our pastures and trails and gorgeous outdoor arenas. In many places, autumn is one of the nicest times of the year to ride! Here are a few things you can still do with your horse to make this an autumn to remember:
1. Explore a new trail, show or riding venue.
With the crush of the main competition and trail riding season wrapping up, now is the time to hit the road and find some new places to enjoy: schooling opportunities, new parks or public spaces to explore, or a great one-day show or show series not far from home. Bonus: autumn events are less likely to be plagued by blistering heat, human- and horse-wilting humidity and bugs.
2. Enjoy those changing colors!
Autumn is gorgeous, people. Look up and enjoy the show from time to time!
3. Dabble in a new discipline.
Always wanted to try putting a western saddle on your jumper? Curious how your barrel horse might handle some small jumps? Now is the time! Have a little fun with your horse and experiment. Swap mounts with your best barn buddy and hack each other’s horses. Try those Pony Club games you’ve always been curious about.
4. Scout some clinic opportunities.
While we might think the best time to clinic is in the spring in order to get tuned up for the coming show season, consider the fall clinic an opportunity to introduce some skills or exercises you can practice all winter long, especially if you have access to an indoor arena. Arm yourself with knowledge to make the most of winter riding!
5. Count all of your blessings and do nothing at all.
While Thanksgiving is certainly an autumn holiday so that we can rest and enjoy the bounty of another year’s harvest, I’d like to think that for equestrians, it’s an opportunity after the rush of another summer to take a deep breath, step away from the goals and show calendar and competition schedule, and simply enjoy time with our horses in gratefulness. Go for a bareback wander in a halter. Sit on your horse’s back while he grazes. Enjoy your horses!