We are launching a series of specialized camping articles, the first of which is about how to go camping with horses. Not only are these animals very intelligent and very friendly, they offer a great way to explore the area you intend to go to.
As you may have guessed, there is no horse camping experience without horses. More specifically, your four legged partners will have to be in the correct condition for the task. It is best to use horses that are already broken-in and are used to human contact. The terrain is not the place you will want to start taming a horse. They should be equipped with good horseshoes if you are going on a rough terrain and they should be used to travelling. It is very important that the horses are in excellent condition; otherwise it will be difficult for them to carry your weight and gallop for miles each day.
Things to bring along
Since there is an extra living being that you need to take care of, there will be several extra tools that you must bring along, just for the horse. If your horse has been hobble trained, bring the hobble with so that you don’t have to worry about the animal running off and you can let it graze peacefully near where you camp. Of course you will need a saddle, bridle and rein for your own comfort. Bring a few brushes to clean your horse at the end of each day. They will appreciate a little human caring after hours of hard physical labor. Bring a rope to tie your horses at night. If you know that you are going to a terrain where the horse will not be able to graze, you must ensure that you bring enough hay with you. Note that this may make the trip quite cumbersome, so you should think twice before you take your horses on a barren mountain for instance.
Navigation on horseback
When you navigate through terrain on horseback, you will have a different perspective of the area. You will, for instance, not be able to judge as closely how stable the ground ahead of you is. Especially if you gallop, things will happen very fast. This is why it is best not to go on uncharted and unbeaten trails unless you are a very experienced horseback rider and camper. It is hard to tell when a nice trail by the river bend turns into a dangerous swamp for instance. Try to use trails that are made by cattle that graze in the area, as these are usually quite reliable and may even lead to a delicious grazing ground for your horse, or perhaps some supply of water.
Where can you camp with horses?
Horses and horse camping require a lot more space than if you were to go backpacking. Nevertheless you will be pleased to read that numerous state and national parks offer the chance to take your horses along. Some even have specially designed horse trails so that you don’t even have to worry about finding a route that is long and wide enough to travel by horse without disturbing hikers on foot. Most parks have strict regulations to keep things safe for everyone, but these are usually very sensible and are easy to comply with. For instance, you may be required to keep your horse in a specially designated area or barn when it sleeps so that it does not ruin the surroundings at night. Of course it is common courtesy towards your fellow campers to clean up any manure left by your horse, just as you wouldn’t want to come across the same from someone else.
How to train horses for camping?
Think baby steps. This all depends on the experience level of the horse, but take things slow so that the animal has a chance to adjust to changing circumstances. Of course, the horse should be broken-in, should be friendly and should be in a good condition. Then, you should train it to be used to being tied down for the night and it should also get used to wearing a hobble. Take the horses every now and then for some terrain riding, a little longer each time. The best is to first practice camping very close to home, so that if anything happens you can always go back to the barn for the night. Last but not least, the horse should be trained to get used to travelling in a trailer. Once again, the most important thing is to take it slow and to be very patient and caring all the time.
Horseback riding and camping with horses can be a very special and rewarding experience. It will help you to bond with your horse on a whole new level and maybe you will even feel like a cowboy! Who wouldn’t want that? We wish you all the best for your horse camping trip!
We are interested in your input. Have you ever gone camping with horses? Share your tips, experiences or anecdotes below in the comment section!