August 25, 2020

By: Mrinalini Sundar

The Ranch

If you were to Google “Things to do in Oakville”, there is no way you would miss The Ranch. They have been hosting horseback riding experiences in Oakville since 1980 and are one of the best riding facilities in GTA.

I personally recommend the trail ride for families or anyone who is looking for date ideas. It is also a perfect activity for a long weekend, as it is safe, fun, outdoors, and exciting. Just remember that kids have to be accompanied by an adult and waivers have to be signed in advance.

I booked myself a slot on one of their trail rides, but I really didn’t know what to expect. What would we do, where would we go, how many people would be there with me, will my horse be friendly? About 100 questions popped into my head.

Thankfully, their website is incredibly informative and, includes information about what to wear, what to bring, and a demo video to show you first-hand what to expect.

Make sure to get there 30 minutes early to sign up, collect your helmet and attend the demonstration. I was so happy to see that all the helmets were being systematically sanitized by the supervisors.

Before setting off on the ride, the instructors took us through a quick 15-minute demonstration on how to hold the reigns and get on and get off the horse. For someone who hasn’t gotten on a horse for quite a few years, I was quite excited and nervous at the same time.

It was finally time to take off and I was given a beautiful horse named Daisy. Make sure to remember your horse’s name so you can interact with it and strike a connection. I had six other riders in my team and a trail guide.

It took me a good 10 minutes to adjust to the speed of Daisy, but she was magnificent and I was amazed at how well she was trained. The views were incredible as we rode through fields, forests, and farmland. Daisy also stopped for a little scratch against a thorny tree, something I endured happily.

Our one hour together flew by before I knew it and I kissed Daisy goodbye hoping to see her soon!

This was such a fun way to experience Oakville and there are plenty of other activities you can include in your itinerary to make the most of a long weekend staycation.

Shop and dine in Bronte Village, Kerr Village or Downtown Oakville, and squeeze in other attractions like Lion’s Valley Park or Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Get out of the house and complete your staycation with an overnight stay at one of Oakville’s renowned hotels.

Mrinalini’s tips for novice trail-riders:

  • Get there early: Try to arrive a half-hour early in order to check-in, collect your helmets and watch the demo!
  • Name, please? : Once The Ranch guides assign a horse to you, remember their name and strike a connection with them.
  • Comfy first: Wear full pants and comfortable shoes. Boots are the best! Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals.
  • Sunny side up: Don’t forget your shades. Also, apply enough sunscreen before you get on your horse.
  • Go away bugs: Keep the bugs at bay with a little bug spray especially amidst the farm zones.
  • Don’t forget to vogue: The supervisors at The Ranch will take group pictures that will be automatically sent to your email. You can also request an individual picture of you and your horse.
  • No lollygagging: To ensure customer and employee safety, all the riders are asked to leave the premises once the ride is over. I know you’ll want to stay with your horse forever, but please be respectful, wave goodbye and pack up your things quickly.
  • Don’t stop exploring: Once my session was over at The Ranch, I decided to drive around that neighbourhood and do a bit more exploring. I found large cornfields, beautiful mansions and several picturesque spots for photoshoots.
  • Give yourself some rest after the ride: Even though the trail is not strenuous, you just rode a horse for an hour and even galloped on it. Book a patio or grab some takeout and let yourself unwind with a view of Oakville’s stunning lakeshore.