Poplar Springs sits in the heart of Virginia’s horse country—there are an estimated 5,000 horses in Fauquier County, where the inn is located—and you can easily explore the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains from a saddle. Regardless of whether you’re an experienced equestrian or an infrequent rider, you’ll feel the stress evaporate as you take bridle trails past farms, vineyards, meadows and picturesque homes.
You can get a horse—and a guide—from Kelly’s Ford Equestrian Center in Remington. The center offers guided rides, riding lessons and even surrey and sleigh rides.
You’ll see plenty of longhorns at Marriott Ranch in Hume, a reminder that this is a working cattle ranch. The more than 4,200-acre area has several horseback-riding options, including guided rides, twilight rides and even cattle drives
If you’re keener on riding as a spectator sport, you can check out the cream of the crop as they compete in jumping contests and more at the Warrenton Horse Show, held over Labor Day weekend, and the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in the early summer.
Sky Meadows State Park, south of Paris, features six miles of natural-surface trails for riders who make arrangement to get their own horses. The G. Richard Thompson Wildlife Management Area is known for its vibrantly colored spring wildflowers. The reserve allows horseback riding on its trails, although riding is not recommended during hunting season. (The wildlife management area’s website shows hunting dates.).