Taking your horse along for a camping trip opens up a whole new world of trail riding adventures. Horse-camping allows you to go farther and stay longer, and will help you develop a whole new relationship with your horse. You'll be limited only by your personal time, the weather, and how much you can conveniently take with you.
But before you load up and head off for an overnight with your horse, you'll need to invest some forethought into preparing and planning for your trip.
1. Do Your Homework
First, how much camping experience do you have? If you're a veteran outdoors person, great. If you're not, don't let that discourage you. Just keep in mind that when you take a horse camping, it adds a whole new dimension to the outing.
To get a preview of what's involved, it's a good idea to attend an expo or seminar that offers horse-camping clinics or demonstrations. This will help you identify opportunities, decide what kind of outing most appeals to you, and what kind of skills and gear you'll need. For example, there's a world of difference, say, between setting up camp at a KOA site next to your truck and trailer, and an outing that requires you to ride into a wilderness area with everything you need for survival on the back of your horse.
Great Get-Away Tips
• First time out? Try a guided horse-camping trip to learn the ropes.
• Contact national, state and local land agencies to find the best horse-camping spots in your area.
• Protect wilderness areas by feeding "certified weed-free" feeds.
• Confirm your campsite's drinking water supply; be prepared to provide your own.
• Create packing lists for both you and your horse.
• "Leave no trace" by packing out everything you take with you.
If you've never horse-camped, the ideal situation is to go with someone experienced. Join an organized overnight ride, and be sure to tell the outfitter that it's your first horse campout. That way you can be partnered with a veteran on a seasoned horse, who will help impart a measure of confidence in your horse, too.
Also consider joining a horse-camping club or organization, so you'll have the support and know-how you need to get started. Regardless of how many miles of trails they seem to have under their horses' hooves, horse-campers seem especially willing, ready and able to help newcomers.
Second, has your horse ever camped? Some horses readily adapt to camping. It's like they do it everyday. Others become basket cases when the first pine needles hit the ground! Naturally, the more you trail ride, the better your horse becomes when traveling the trail. And the more a horse goes camping, the more accepting he becomes of the changes in his surroundings.