Camping with your Curly Horse
(This article targets mainly the casual weekend camper)
****If you have experience camping and would like to share your wisdom, please email me! I would love to add as much as possible to this article...including great camping pics!!****
Camping with your horse can be the absolute best experience in the world, unless you go unprepared. So I thought I would write an article that would include tips from experienced campers to make that first experience awesome! I know for me that first time leaving your horse in a portable corral or tied to a picket line can be a very scary and worrisome affair, not to mention making sure you have all the needed supplies in case of an emergency. So here goes!
Containing your horse: For me, achieving the best & safest place for my horse overnite was my #1 priority. I have used a picket line and also a portable electric fence. I tend to sleep better knowing my horse is much happier in a corral situation, but everyone has their own preference on that. Consider the horse you are taking and practice at home to determine what your horse is most comfortable with. Also check with the campground before you leave see if they have areas for portable fencing and if they provide a picket post as well. You can buy Portable fencing kits such as this one PORTABLE CORRAL online OR go to your local Tractor Supply and buy the plastic posts & electric rope individually. You will also need a battery and charger. For picketing, you will need good strong rope and many have suggested the "knot eliminator" for easy in tieing.
Picketing your Curly Horse
Using Portable Electric Fencing
Feeding, graining and watering: I bring as much hay as I think Reese will need to eat free choice. I also bring salt and loose minerals. I also bring my own water from home to be sure he will drink plenty (some horses won't drink water that smells or tastes different). Several experienced campers suggest taking along beet pulp that you soak to keep your horse from dehydrating. Make sure if you don't normally feed beet pulp that you get your horses used to it at home prior to your camping weekend. Don't introduce any new feed as this could be a stressful time for your horse and you dont' want to cause him any stomach upset.
Caring for Your Horse: Make sure your horse is fit and in shape for the riding you plan to do. ie. good hoof trim, in condition and no other health issues. Make sure you have good tack that fits well and that you have used at home many times on long rides so you know he will be happy and comfortable. Also bring lots of fly spray and it was suggested strongly to always carry a waterproof horse blanket for your horse as well. In the early and late months of the season, nights can get cold and after a long day of riding your horse could become stressed if they have to deal with the elements in a confined area. Always put the welfare of your horse first.
Preparing your List: Create a list of supplies you will need. Also make sure you have emergency phone numbers on hand of friends in the area that you can call if need be. Bring a cell phone, but remember that you may not always get service in the remote areas. Make sure you have a First Aid kit for you and your horse. Also don't forget any paperwork that you may need, ie coggins.
Stay weather informed: Be sure to stay on top of the weather beforehand and prepare to pack appropriate clothing. Rain Jackets, gloves and rubber boots are always a must! I am thinking of investing in an insulated pair of rubber boots.
People Food: I find when I camp I do best with small nutritious meals. Simple foods. I like to pack trail mixes, apples, crackers and cheese, granola bars and soups. I have to have my morning coffee, so I take my camp coffee pot and my propane grill -- nothing like a hot cup of coffee on those cool fall mornings. ;-) Peanut butter & Jelly is also an easy food, quick to throw together and pack in your saddle pack without worry of spoilage. I know of some endurance riders that have a great recipe for a high protein bread that holds them all day on those long rides. I always take a cooler, packed with tons of bottled water, juice and maybe a soda or two. ;-)
Other essentials: Don't forget your firewood incase you need to dry out your clothes or stay warm. Also Walmart sells a great little electric lantern that I couldn't have been without on my last campout. Saddle bags/packs are also really important. I carry a water bottle, hoof pick, flashlight, some small first aid items, compass, fly spray (people and horse) and fly mask. Sometimes I can fit a sandwich, apply and a pouch rain jacket in there too. ;-) Oh and don't forget that cell phone and camera! I bought my saddle pack here: SADDLE PACKS ETC. There is quite a variety and I just love mine! Oh, and don't forget LOTS of 'wet ones'!
Human Accommodations: My first 2 times camping, I slept in the truck. Not so comfortable. I decided to take a tent last time and slept quite well except for the raccoon that kept trying to get into my rubbermaid containers! I have heard of people turning their stock trailers into living quarters for the weekend, which I may do next time. That will allow me to use it as a dressing room too. People that camp alot come with awesome Living Quarter Trailers and of course, if you plan to camp alot and can afford one, go for it!
Other useful tips from other horse campers:
When I go camping I take this barrel (out of a washing machine) to make all of our fires in. You set it up on two pieces of square pipe, so that the ashes can fall through the bottom. It already has holes all over it for ventilation. You can put an old oven grate over the top to make a grill or take the grate of and build a pretty big bon fire. But you don't have to worry about the fire getting out of control because it is contained in the barrel. :)) Brush Creek Curlies
I cooked and froze a lot of the meats in sauces incase it was a warm fall.....they stayed frozen longer. We always spent the first night in the mountains at the trucks in the base camp. The next morning took several hours to divide up the load and pack the horses. We rode up into a mountain meadow about 8 miles up the river. We had big canvas wall tents with my big propane stove and wood burning stoves for additional warming and heating. We always kept a bucket of water on that stove so there was the opportunity to have sorta clean hands or a little spot bath. The stove was also great to dry boot out overnight and generally dry out the moisture that seeps up from the ground even with a tarp on it.. Those were the best of times, to spend so much time with your horse made for a wonderful bonding.....and the young ones always matured after that first trip. . - Rockn R Curlies
My tack shop guy gave me a list of things "not to forget" that included:
an extra cinch ( or two )
first aid kits for horse and human
Benadryl or something to that effect, in case you suddenly turn allergic to bee stings
packer pellets of course
I always have in the trailer stuff like:
an extra halter and lead
For our "containment" system for camping...we took 4 corral panels, and tied them down on the outside of the horse trailer for the trip..it worked out quite nicely, especially since we were there so long.
I was also glad I brought blankets along, and since I did not have a real warm one for Krinkles, I just used 2 instead, learned that trick last year while HB was in training.
Most of the stock at other camps, were tied, although one guy chose to let his horses run free...
I thing I learned BIG TIME is not to overfeed, we had pellets called TACO....Timothy/alfalfa/corn /oats....and our horses were on their tip toes, until we switched to just using Timothy pellets. Unless you are riding a growing youngster, or riding alot of miles per day, the TACO pellets were just too much energy!
Linda V/Creekside Curlies-
"We have learned to tie our horses either on the trailer or on the high lines with a small loop of twine (doubled, not single)instead of directly to the hook or line. This is a safety thing. It only takes a second to cut it with a knife vs sawing a lead rope incase a horse gets tangled, hung up somehow. (we had a friend that camped next to us last summer and her horse laid down and got its back leg caught up in the lead, lucky the horse was calm about the whole thing and we were able to cut through the lead rope. But if she would have tied with twine it would have been a quick cut and free). I know some folks also use old nylon stockings too being they have some give to them and stretch a bit but are still easy to get through."
Meeker County SWCD
Thanks to the following for their contributions to this article:
Kestrel Farms, Amy Wall