Formula for Great Horse Camping
Preparing for Horse Camping
When horse camping you want to make sure you have packed everything you will need to take care of your horse besides the regular things you would normally bring along for yourself. Being prepared is the key to a great trip for you and your horse. Follow these steps in preparing for horse camping and you will be on your way to a wonderful experience.
Methods of Containing Your Horse
First you need to consider how you will contain your horse while camping. Consider the options you have in our article “How to Contain Your Horse Overnight” and choose which method you will be using. Make sure you pack everything you will need for whichever method you choose. I prefer the high line method due to its versatility. As long as I have something to tie to (trees, trailers, highline posts) this method has always conformed to camp rules, and has been acceptable wherever I have camped.
Next, check and recheck your tack. Make sure you have everything that you will normally use to ride. You don’t want to get there and find you left a saddle pad at home. If so, you won’t be riding, you just brought your horse along for company. You can see the importance that you make sure you have saddle, bridle, headstall, saddle pad and cantle bag or saddlebags. Make sure all is in good repair and all your various attachments on everything are not worn to the point of almost breaking. (This is good practice to do twice a year; I do mine when I am cleaning all my tack in spring and fall. This is the best time to do a thorough inspection, when you have it all apart.)
Halters and Leads
Make sure you have a good nylon halter and lead rope along. I like to bring two of these, if you have an extra one, just in case one get broken or someone in camp needs one. I also like to bring one lead that has a long line on it, about 12 to 15 feet in length. This is so I can let my horse graze while I sit in my chair relaxing. If you don’t have a long lead, it is not necessary, this is not your food source only a treat for your horse.
Bring along a box with brushes, hoof picks, fly spray and anything else you want to bring for general care. Also I pack some emergency things in this box, such as horse medical wraps, liniment, Bute (this is for pain and swelling and can be purchased through your veterinarian), hoof boot (if you have one) and anything else you might think would be a good thing to take along in case of an emergency. I like to make a emergency kit to take on the trail in my cantle or saddlebag. It is good to pack for both you and your horse. Most accidents will happen on the trail and you need the basics to get you back to camp. These things are usually not needed. My theory is if I bring them I won’t need them, if I don’t I will. Throw in a strong latigo lace that you can do a quick repair on your tack if something were to break on the trail you could repair it enough to get to camp. Be prepared for the unexpected. I always think that if I don’t need it someone on the trail might. and I can help them out.
Horse Supplies for Emergencies and General Needs
You want to make sure you have a water bucket along for your horse to drink. Some camps have streams that you can take your horse to drink, most have a water hydrant to fill your jugs (I bring two, five gallon jugs along for this reason). Even if there is a stream I like to have water at camp to make sure my horse gets all the water he wants.
Watering Your Horse While Camping
You want to bring a muck bucket along for manure pickup. It is very important to clean your campsite and leave it as you found it. The same goes for when you are on the trail, if you pack it in, pack it out! Also, a shovel and/or manure rake if good to have along. A lot of campsites have these items, along with a wheelbarrow for campers to use, but not all sites do provide these, so it is a good practice to have them along.
Horse and Campsite Maintenance
You want some type of feedbags along as well. I like the one we offer on this site; it is large enough to get a full horse meal in. If you feed grain you can put it in the same bag and the horse can get to the bottom of this type feedbag. If it gets over his head he won’t panic because he can see right through it. They attach right to the trailer, hitching post or high line so they are very versatile. These are the best feedbags I have ever found and they are quite durable so they will last you for years. Now, don’t forget to bring food for your horse and plenty of it. He will be working hard and you want to make sure he get plenty to eat. Grain is a good idea also to give him all the carbohydrates he will need to hold his weight.
Feeding Your Horse
Tips for You While Horse Camping
Horse Camping Tip No. 1:
I like to pack in my cantle bag some hard candies. (Jolly Ranchers are the best). You’ll thank me out on the trail for this tip!
Horse Camping Tip No. 2:
The only other thing you might want to consider is exploring Dutch oven cooking (for yourself, not your horse). I have found it to be the perfect match for horse camping. I put dinner on to cook, go for a ride and when I return, dinner is ready. With a Dutch oven you can even bake a cake! Imagine how that would impress your friends. Anything you bake in the oven you can bake in a Dutch oven and it’s all so very good.
Horse Camping Tip No. 3:
Get your butt in the saddle and ride.You’ll be all set and ready to enjoy horse camping to the fullest. Happy trails and camping!
Here's some great resources to plan your next camping trip:
Horse and Mule Trail Guide USA
Horse Trail Directory
Back County Horsemen of America