There’s something special about communing with nature from the back of a majestic mare, and it’s hard to imagine anything more picturesque than riding through forest trails and across vast, open fields on horseback—until, that is, you imagine doing that very thing in autumn. Add some colourful fall foliage and crisp air to the mix, and you’ve got the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Luckily there are plenty of destinations in Ontario cottage country that recognize the allure of horseback riding and offer unique experiences and special packages that cater to horse lovers.
Irwin Inn, Lakefield
If you want to turn your trail-riding experience into a relaxing weekend in the countryside, the Irwin Inn offers a riding getaway package that not only includes one-on-one horse bonding time, a riding lesson, and a trail ride, but also accommodations in a suite or cottage and use of resort spa facilities.
Winding Fences Farm, Utterson
With more than 200 acres of forest and farmland, the Muskoka region’s Winding Fences Farm provides a stunning backdrop for a horseback adventure. Their guided trail rides wind through forest paths, across gorgeous open meadows, and along country roads. They also provide special riding lessons for people who want a taste of the Western experience. After your trail ride is over you can explore the rest of the working animal farm, which includes a stables of cows, pigs, and chickens.
Clear Lake Farm, Magnetawan
This 220-acre farm includes a unique equestrian centre—the only public trail in Ontario where visitors can ride Icelandic horses, a breed with a history that can be traced all the way back to the Vikings. Icelandic horses are perfectly suited to beginners as well as advanced riders and are known for their unique gait called the tölt (a four-beat gait without a moment of suspension). The property is on the shoreline of Clear Lake and offers a scenic trail ride by the waterside.
Stone Oaks Riding Stables, Astorville
Stone Oaks offers year-round trail rides, an incredible opportunity to experience the glory of Northern Ontario’s changing leaves. The terrain is beautiful and varied, and different packages are offered based on level of experience. Confident riders can head off on a semi-private trail ride and couples can sign up for a romantic ride designed for sweethearts. The Nearby Clarion Resort offers seasonal horseback riding packages in collaboration with Stone Oaks.
South Algonquin Trails, Algonquin Park
These riding trails are a great way to experience the unique wilderness of Algonquin Park, from rugged hills lined with massive pine trees, to beaver dams set up along the many streams and rivers. They offer adventures for riders of all experience levels, with outings as short as 30 minutes to three- and four-hour long excursions to the Gut Rapids or Highfalls Lookout. You can even book an overnight package that includes a stay in an eco-lodge.
Whispered Dreams Ranch, Thunder Bay
If you’re looking for a horseback experience in Northern Ontario, consider visiting Whispered Dreams Ranch, where you can hop up on a Canadian horse or an Alberta Mustang for a short afternoon jaunt or an all-day adventure broken up by a two-hour riverside lunch and paddle boating along the Mattawin River.