June is National Camping Month! To help get you ready for an adventure of your own, we’re rolling out a three-part series on camping with horses. In Part One, we’ll cover finding places to vacation where accommodations are provided for both you and your horse.
If you’ve never gone on a horse camping or trail riding vacation, you’re missing out! It’s wonderful to ride out each day and explore new trails, nice to hang out in camp with your horse close by, and fun to sit around the campfire with your trail riding friends.
But if you’ve never gone horse camping it can be hard to know where to start. Do you have the right equipment? How do you know where to visit?
If you (or a riding buddy) have a camper or living-quarters trailer, you’re off to a good start. If you don’t, and you’re not wildly excited about sleeping in a tent, don’t worry—you can still go horse camping! Just choose a destination that provides lodging for both you and your horse.
You might opt for a dude ranch that allows you to bring your own horse. A state or county park might have rentable corrals or stables for horses and cabins for humans. Or you might be able to find a “bed, barn, and breakfast” rental that offers stalls for the horses and a house or cabin for you and your friends.
Some of these venues provide meals, so the only equipment you’ll need will be things you already have: the tack you normally use, the clothing you trail ride in, water buckets and feed (hay and, if you use it, grain) for your horse, and a manure bucket and fork. Other locations feature fully equipped kitchens where you can cook your own meals, so you’ll simply bring your horse equipment and clothing, plus food.
Scout the Internet for places to stay overnight with your horse with search terms like “bed and barn,” “dude ranch bring own horse,” or “guest ranch bring own horse.” You’ll undoubtedly find some exciting opportunities.
Once you’ve narrowed your horse camping options, get in touch with the venues you’re considering so you’ll be adequately prepared and informed when you book your stay. When you talk to the facilities, be sure to ask questions like:
- Are the nearby trails accessible from the property, or will I need to drive to a trailhead?
- Does the facility provide a guide and/or maps of the trail network?
- How long are the trails, are they easy or challenging rides, and what sights am I likely to see? Is the terrain steep or rocky?
- What are the horse facilities like? Are they stalls, corrals, paddocks with run-in sheds, or open fields?
- What paperwork do I need to bring regarding my horse (proof of a negative Coggins test, for example), and does my horse need any specific vaccines (such as an equine influenza vaccine) before he arrives?
- Am I responsible for feeding my horse and mucking out his stall or pen, or does the facility provide these services?
- Is a self-service kitchen available, or does the facility provide meals?
- Does the facility provide bed linens and towels, or should I bring my own?
Once you have the answers to these questions for several possible vacation destinations, you can easily choose the one that best suits you and your horse.
Until then, happy trails!