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What you should bring horseback riding overnight Part 1
Larry's Horse Tips / bring horseback riding overnight part 1
Overnight horseback riding
What to pack for your equestrian journey

What you should bring horseback riding overnight Part 1

Previously, we talked about what NOT to bring out on the trails with you.  Now lets talk about what you SHOULD bring.

When you pack, take only the basic necessities. You can bring one cup, one plate, and one pot with a lid, and a spoon but no fork.  Leave behind every luxury item, and a fork is a luxury item. They weren’t invented until the 4th Century, so you can certainly do without one for a few days!

Your tent, if you bring one, should be light, and only big enough to do the job; you don’t need a four man tent. You probably don’t need tent stakes either because you can always use sticks and rocks in their place.

Your sleeping bag should also be light, and there’s probably no harm in bringing a sleeping pad…though you could always use clothing under your bag to soften the ground.

Sleeping in your clothing won’t hurt anything, so you don’t need more than one extra shirt; you can always wash anything at night in camp if you have to.

Unless you are an avid photographer, the camera on your cell phone should be good enough…but remember to conserve its juice because otherwise your cell will just be extra dead weight. Consider leaving that behind, too; you may not have a cell tower handy.

As you think about packing, it’s best to keep most of the weight on the horse’s shoulder, and keep any weight behind the saddle as light as possible to avoid applying too much pressure on the horse’s kidneys.

As for food for yourself, think about each meal carefully so you only bring measured quantities for the menus you have in mind.

If you bring back food at the end of your trip, you haven’t planned well enough.

 Don’t overeat with your eyes, either. When you’re on the trail, you need less food than you think you do. A lot of your dinner should be dehydrated so you can carry less weight and just add water.

When it comes to feed for your horse, hopefully you will have plenty of grazing for the stock, and packing hay will not be necessary.

In the event you do need horse feed, a pack animal will be necessary. Always pack certified weed-free hay. Compressed “packers bales” is the way to go. You might want to bring a few pounds of alfalfa pellets; horses tend to come to camp for a morning feed if there is a treat to entice them in.

Companions

If you’re a sociable person, it’s a lot more fun and even advisable to go with someone who is like-minded, although relationships have been known to go south under excessive pressure.

Pick a person with credible character who is also interested in the journey; they’ll probably add to the fun and be the cause of an odd story or two.

Maps and Compass

Always bring a USFS Green Map of the area you will be riding, combine that with a good compass and the knowledge to read both and you should minimize the chance of getting lost.

You can also throw in a GPS as a back up to the map, signal in the mountains can be sketchy at times so don’t get in the habit of using it for a crutch.

Sometimes the best map is someone with local knowledge; ask some of your riding buddies about the trail, campsites, feed for the stock and remember to let the forest ranger know where you’re going, just in case he needs to come find ya! 

While you’re chatting with the ranger, ask about current trail conditions. This will help cut down on unforeseen mishaps.

Gizmos

You ought to have a reliable flashlight or head lamp, and always bring extra batteries and a bulb; as back-up, you should have a candle. Once it gets dark out in nature, you won’t be able to see beyond your nose. A Swiss army knife, two polyethylene bags, and canvas bucket-bags or items of similar use, and a lighter (with matches as a back-up), are all essential.

Hobbles

Leather hobbles don’t work well in long-term situations as they can cause sores to horses. A three-quarter or one inch cotton rope works better and longer.

All you need to do is unbraid it, and then rebraid it into a three-strand braid to make an excellent pair of hobbles. These won’t chafe your horses as readily as other gear would.

As for a picket pin, you might think about having one made as it’s impossible to find a good commercial one. Have a hole drilled through the top of a piece of angle iron, and then put a welded ring through it. You can then attach a heavy bull snap and you’re all set. Angle iron has more staying power in the ground when a horse pulls on it.

Tack

Before you purchase your saddle, get it fitted by a professional. Saddles are a big investment and a well-made saddle that fits both your horse and you is worth the expense.

A comfortable ride for horse and rider is essential for a successful trip.

It is essential that the saddle fit the horse correctly; padding will not fix the problem once a saddle sore has developed.

A good saddle pad, on the other hand, made from natural material like wool, is a better investment than a less expensive choice. Use only as much pad as necessary for the comfort of your horse. Too much pad can cause more problems than too little.

Stay tuned for part 2 of what to bring on an overnight horseback riding adventure!  We love hearing from you, so please comment below and tell us one thing you absolutely need when you are out on the trails!

Happy Trails until next time,

Larry

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