Camping Horses Checklist
I am getting a little bit excited because Jon and I will be travelling to a horse clinic next week.
We are going to spend 5 days camping and learning with a group of ladies at a David Grace 4 star Parelli Professional Clinic.
We do travel and camp out with our horses fairly regularly. We live quite remote, so it is necessary for us to travel to instructors or else we would hardly get to see one. I have been modifying and improving my Camping Horses Checklist over the past few years and I reckon I’ve just about perfected it now.
For this trip, it’s a 5 day camp, with a full 9 hour day to travel there and another 9 hours home, plus we are going a couple of days earlier to meet a bodyworker for the horses. So all in all Jon and I will be camping out for 8 nights.
I have a few checklists developed now – one for a weekend away, one for when we show or compete and our big 5 day camps. They are all a little bit different.
The only other factor that might come into play is the weather and I will update my checklist once I know what to expect while we are away. This trip it looks like it might rain early on so I will be packing a woollen rug as well as an extra waterproof one for Jon just in case his normal rugs get wet.
Before I get into the checklist itself there are three tips I want to share with you to make your life easier.
Tip #1 – Travel Light
I clearly remember the first 5 day camp we went on. I had two of everything, just in case something broke or didn’t fit or was in any way unusable.
2 bridles, 2 saddles, 2 girths, 2 halters, 4 lead ropes in various lengths, all my grooming brushes plus duplicates I found in the tackroom, and the list went on. My thought was if anything broke it wouldn’t impact on my participating in the clinic.
I’m here to tell you, you don’t need to do this. Did I use every single item? No. I used what I always use at home, 1 saddle, 1 bridle, 1 halter. I do always take 2 different lengths of lead rope, a 12 foot that I travel Jon in and a 22 foot for groundwork.
It takes you twice as long to pack, you end up having a heap of gear that just gets in the way or if you have to leave it out when you get there, and it gets wet or damaged and then when you get home you have to unpack and clean it all.
Honestly just take what you always use on your horse.
Now is not the time to be trying out new gear either. When you are going camping for fun or to attend a clinic you need to know what your taking is in good condition and that it fits the horse and is usable. If you are thinking about trying out new stirrups, try them before you go so you know your saddle is complete and good to ride in.
Save yourself a heap of time, and we will talk about time next, and a heap of hassle and just pack what you know you are actually going to need and use.
Tip #2 Leave yourself plenty of time to pack
If at all possible don’t rush your packing. Give yourself plenty of time to get it done. This way you are less likely to forget something and you might even enjoy the process.
It doesn’t need to be a mad last minute panic to throw everything together, then cram it into the car and trailer before you speed off because you are already late.
Allocate enough time to get each task done so that you can be calm and actually think about what you are doing.
Tip #3 Make a List
I love lists for this very reason. It gives me a chance to see exactly what I have to do and allocate a time span to get it done. I even go so far as to decide what I will do on what days in the lead up to leaving and write that on my list.
Google Docs is a great free way to create and keep your list. That way when you are developing your own you can modify it easily.
I like to print my list when I’m done, then I get the satisfaction of crossing things off and I know at a glance if I am falling behind or what I still need to do.
Because I work full time I often need to start my packing the weekend before, and then do a little bit each night. A list is great when you have to break it up into segments like this. You don’t forget what you’ve done and you know exactly when you will do each task.
I am perhaps a little OCD about packing, but you appreciate it when you get somewhere and you have everything you need.
OK now to the checklist
Obviously, you will need to change to suit your gear and requirements, but if you think about what I have below you won’t forget the important stuff. I get quite descriptive when I do my list, so saddle with girth becomes Ammo saddle or Dressage saddle (depending on what we are going to be doing).
This way you don’t need to be making decisions when you are trying to pack, you have already done your thinking when you developed the list.
So here’s what I have on my list.
Saddle with girth attached
Bridle & Bitless Bridle (if you use one)
Saddleblanket(s) – worth taking two in case one gets wet
Lead Ropes – 12 foot & 22 foot
Training Boots – for horse
Stick/String or Carrot Stick
Horse rugs (winter consider extras – woollen rug, additional waterproof rug)
Grooming Bag – body brush, face brush, face washer & towel, hoof pick, magic brush, mane comb
Horse First Aid Kit
Horse Stuff Extras
Water Bucket x 1
Feed Bucket x 2
Blocker Tie Ring for float
Fly Veil (summer time)
Carrots for treats
Drink Up – see below for explanation
Hay net for trailer (if you travel your horse with hay)
Horse feed – bag up hard feed, chaff and take as much hay as you need if it won’t be available where you are going. It is often wise to take a little of your own hay anyway. Horses can easily get upset tummies, which is not what you want when you are away, so if you can mix a little of his usual hay with the new stuff for a day or two it can prevent all sorts of problems.
Water – I very rarely carry water but some floats have built-in water tanks so you can take water from home and that’s great. A horse will sometimes go off drinking also when you have travelled and they are a bit unsettled in new surroundings, or perhaps the water tastes different.
I love a product called Drink Up which comes in an easy to transport sachet and is really cheap to buy. You just mix it with a bucket of water and I haven’t seen a horse that won’t drink once it has been added to the water. It is often enough to get the horse to start drinking again just by offering one bucket with Drink Up. This time I am taking enough for every day just in case, because I know Jon can be a little funny with new water.
T-Shirts or shirts
Jacket (winter time, waterproof)
Knickers & Socks
Cap or Hat
Toiletries Bag plus face washer & towel
Thermal pants & shirt (winter time)
Iphone charger (if you have power & phone reception)
I am not going to go into all the camping equipment you might need eg. cooking utensils, sleeping bag, tent etc. I think I will leave that for a camping or outdoor website. If you are lucky enough to be travelling in an RV and towing your trailer (nice set up in the image!) or a gooseneck with living area, you will have a heap less to pack to keep the humans happy.
Your horse and yourself will, however, be catered for if you follow the above checklist.
Who is left at home?
If you have other horses or critters who are not going camping, you would have made alternate arrangements for someone to look after them.
Which reminds me to buy cat food for Happy, our stable cat.
Ideally that someone would be a knowledgeable horsey friend who will know what to look for in case your horse becomes unwell.
It’s easy enough to pick up manure and throw the horse some hay but if your horses are rugged or require additional care it’s preferable to have someone who knows what they are doing.
Make sure you have left enough food and essentials for them to do whats required. Plus a little bit extra in case you are late coming home.
We went to a weekend cow clinic a few hours down the road late last year, we loved it so much we decided to stay another day and get in some extra tuition.
A quick phone call to extend the care arrangements for the horse left at home and because I had left a full days feed all was well and we could stay.
There’s nothing worse than looking after another horse for someone and then running out of hay or finding the person has gone away with the only rake to pick up manure with. Make it as easy as possible for those who are doing you a favour and looking after your other animals.
I always bag up hard feed into breakfasts and dinners so the person can save time not having to make up feeds and also you know your horse is getting exactly what he should for each feed.
You’re all packed and away you go
Obviously you have done the prior preparation and you are confident your horse will load into the trailer when it’s time to go. If not check out our article on Horse Trailer Loading Tips.
Have a fantastic trip and enjoy spending some quality time with your horse, I know I am going to next week. I’ll be sure to blog and let you know all about it as soon as I get back.
If you can think of anything I have left off the camping Horses Checklist post them in the comments below so I can update my list and we can help others out also.