While some people think seeing Oklahoma by motor vehicle is the way to go, others would argue the proper way to do it is by horseback.
Jeanne Keffer Remer, director of the trail program at Honey Lee Ranch Trail Rides in Jones, thinks fall is a great time to get back in the saddle again … or discover horseback riding for the first time.
“The weather is just perfect,” she says. “Warm enough to be comfortable. The wildlife is much more active, too. We have deer, bald eagles, armadillos, raccoons, foxes and coyotes in abundance.”
Remer’s ranch has guided trail rides, ideal for riders of all ages.
“We have guided trail rides on calm, quiet and beautiful horses that are trained to safely carry children or adults with no previous riding experience,” she says. “We also have private lessons on weekends for children and adults. Our ranch is open to those who have their own horses and want to haul in with their truck and trailer and ride, too.”
Remer notes Honey Lee Ranch puts safety first for both the horse and the rider.
“Our minimum age is 6 years old and we don’t allow children to ride double on a horse with an adult,” she says. “All minors – ages 6 to 17 – must wear a certified riding helmet. We provide the helmets and fit them to each individual.”
Remer adds their horses do not trot or lope on trail rides, or turn back to the barn.
At Heavenly Halo Ranch in Sapulpa, Tonja Frazier says the team enjoys riding all year long.
“September through November and even into December is the most popular [time of year] because of the beautiful colors and cool temperatures,” she says. “Horses even enjoy it and become frisky, especially in the mornings.”
Some of Frazier’s favorite places to ride are Turkey Mountain, Sheppard’s Point at Lake Heyburn, Keystone Lake, Bell Cow Lake and at private trails.
“We always try to work in a trip to Talimena Scenic Trails,” she adds. “We load up all our horses, tack and food, and ride as long as we can, soaking up God’s creation.”
Frazier says her group teaches horseback riding from beginner to advanced levels in Western, English saddle and even bareback disciplines.
“We have three instructors and just love to horse around,” she says. “We only take intermediate and above levels on the trails due to required skills, such as climbing very large hills, going back down, jumping logs and flowing creeks.”
The benefits of a peaceful ride on a massive animal are not always obvious.
“Horses are incredibly intuitive,” says Remer. “They can work wonders for children who are shy and timid, lack self-confidence and have difficulty being assertive around other children.”
Mastering even a few short rides on a 1,000-pound horse gives a child confidence and a self-esteem boost, says Remer.
“We are so thrilled to dismount a young rider who beams ear-to-ear and says, ‘This is the best day of my whole life!’”
Riding Safety Tips
Avoid baggy clothing
Never let go of the reins
Footwear with a heel will keep your foot in the stirrup
Listen to your coach or guide