Here in Central Kentucky we’re blessed with magnificent Octobers.

Crisp air, stunning sunsets, a warm palette of turning leaves, the Keeneland race meet, and at least two local orchards that serve apple slushies make October my very favorite month of my most favorite season.

An early autumn scene captured from along our regular trail ride loop. 

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/

I recently had my first ride of the autumn, a trail ride south of Lexington on a friend’s Percheron cross, Hal. A towering chestnut, Hal (to me) looks like a Katie Upton painting (like the whimsical chestnut in the center).
We led the way, running spider web interference and watching for wild turkeys and deer. Though we didn’t see much wildlife, a Big Scary Tire did yawn at us menacingly from a creek bed. There were few biting bugsif anyand many beautiful vistas.

Here's sweet Hal, unimpressed by this driveway stop and eager to carry on with the ride. 

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/

Our group included two handy little Quarter Horses, an older Appendix Quarter horse, and Hal; this group reflects the lovely hodgepodge of individuals in my friends' small herd. Hal might have several hundred pounds on his barn buddies simply because of his size, but he is not managed all that differently than they are (that includes his sweet girlfriend, Rosie the mule). His diet is mostly foragehe spends much of his time out on pasture with access to a run-inand he gets only a little grain. Hal is also on a few supplements his owner has selected based on his age and health history.

Rosie, Hal's girlfriend.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/

Hal is relatively problem-free aside from an issue veterinarians sometimes see in drafts, called shivers. He has his good days and his bad, but I don't recall him having an episode of these involuntary muscle spasms in a very long time. But there are a number of other draft-specific health considerations owners must keep in mind, and I learned about these as our team was editing the October issue. it includes a fantastic article about managing drafts, from their feet and skin to their diets and exercise. There were a few tendencies in there I had never heard of—if you own or care for drafts, be sure to take a look.

A few other highlights from the October issue:

  • Feeder Facts: Brush up on your hay feeder knowledge with these 10 research-based tidbits
  • Upper Body Lameness issues: Structures north of the limbs can cause big problems that are tough to pinpoint. Don’t miss this part 2 of the lameness series.
  • Meds Maze: Navigating the crowded field of performance horse medications can be complex; this article will help.
  • Also, we’ve included articles on thermography and farm workers and immigration reform.

If you haven’t yet seen a copy of The Horse magazine, be sure to check out this issue. You can also subscribe online. We also have a digital version available. And if you're reading this before Oct. 15, just reached 50,000 fans on our Facebook page and we're extending a special subscription offer ($10) there to celebrate!
Here are a few more photos from our ride. On the way home, my friends’ sons made owl calls, and we could hear a Great Horned Owl replying. All in all, it was a gorgeous evening and reminded me, yet again, how wonderful it is to look at the world through a horse’s ears.

Where have you been riding this autumn? Any fun stories to share?

The view from Hal's back.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/

Sunset from horseback. 

Photo: Stephanie L. Church/