Care for Horses on a Thru-Hike - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 10 Old 01-10-2012, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Asherville, Indiana
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Care for Horses on a Thru-Hike

Sometime in the next 5 years (at least) I hope to go on long thru-hike with one of my horses. I prefer planning ahead for something like this. I already have information on trails like the American Discovery and Appalachian, but I can't find anything on caring for a horse for an excessively long time on the trail. I will be gone for up to a year (depending on the trail I take) and have the utmost confidence in my abilities as well as my horse(s) to complete the trip, but for a trip this long I'm not sure what to take. I'm fine when it comes to a weekend long ride but this has me stumped. It's mainly the horse's nutrition I'm not sure about. Do I just take time out of the morning, day, and evening to let her graze or lug around feed? I'll be able to give her a proper feeding at different places but we'll be on the trail obviously the duration, plus I will only have a backpack and saddle bags for this so I doubt the feed is possible. Does anyone have good advice, books I could check out, websites, etc.?

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post #2 of 10 Old 01-10-2012, 06:34 PM
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not sure if the info you are looking for is here, but check out this website if you have not already.
The Long Riders' Guild
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Life is like a bronc ride. You gotta hang on, ride it out, and Let er buck!!!!!
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-10-2012, 08:05 PM
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make sure you look into if the horses are allowed on the trail. I know in parts of the northern appalacian trail (sp) there are no horses allowed whats so ever. Its rumored you have to get special permits for it which are rarely given. So keep that in mind other than that have fun and pls post any info you gather I would love to learn more about it :) and sadly I have nothing on how to care for a horse so no other advice from me :)
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-11-2012, 02:34 PM
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I dream about doing something like this..

I would also love to read a journal someone in recent years wrote. I want to know what all they packed, how they picked their camping spot each night, how they found people to help them. I have all sorts of dumb little questions..

There has been folks who said they were going to do something of this sort but I have never read that they actually did it.

Rhonda
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 05:16 PM
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I just looked at the Long Riders Forum, some pretty interesting reading there.

My youngest son and I also think about a long ride. We are planning a trip to Deep Creek, about 200 miles by road don't know by horseback. That is nothing compared to what some folks have done. I have contacted some farms and stables along the way and some will let you stay the night using their barns and pasture for free, even offering feed and hay for the horses. Most want to charge something. We don't have a problem camping along the way, we prefer it except if the weather got real bad. Feed stores for horse and human are far and few between so a lot of stuff will need to be carried.

Anyway I hope you get to do it someday.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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I've sent in information that the Long Riders asked of me and I'm just waiting now to hopefully be put in contact with one of the American riders. This website has helped me a lot already Nokota thank you so much for showing it to me! Rhonda if you want to read a journal, you should read the posts from the Long Riders about their trips. They're very interesting.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 10:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freelance Cowgirl View Post
It's mainly the horse's nutrition I'm not sure about. Do I just take time out of the morning, day, and evening to let her graze or lug around feed? I'll be able to give her a proper feeding at different places but we'll be on the trail obviously the duration, plus I will only have a backpack and saddle bags for this so I doubt the feed is possible. Does anyone have good advice, books I could check out, websites, etc.?
You do both. "IF" grazing is available at the spot you camp you can do some grazing when you arrive and some again in the morning. If you come across some good grazing during the day it's nice to let them do some then. Some hay is good and of course feed. There are high energy feeds out there. I've almost always had easy keepers, so feeding wasn't the problem it would be with a hard keeper. The thing is to keep the gut working. Horses spend most of their free time eating , so you should allow for some during the ride.
If you know there will be a distance that exceeds what you'll be able to carry enough provision for and has no place to get any you might be able to make arrangements for a supply drop (a place were provision can be sent and kept for your arrival). Honestly I wouldn't worry about a backpack. Better to evenly distribute the weight of your gear and supplies on the horse.

My hats off to you. I've been looking into really long distance riding for years and keeping the horses supplied is the real challange. I did short distances in my youth, but only two to three days round trip, never more than 120 miles, so it was easy to handle the feeding. Never had the time or resources to go longer back then.

Weight can be another challange. I'm hoping to do a trip from SC to Ohio in a few years (2015?), so I bought my current horses with that kind of riding in mind (over 500 miles to get there and home via another 500+ mile rounte). My girls are pretty big (Friesian/Saddlebred), so I can carry more provisions and still keep the total load to about 20% of their weight (lighter saddle and gear). It was different when I was younger and would camp with just a blanket and ground cloth (to put under or over me depending on the weather). Now days I like a small tent to be in. And I have found a nice feed that my girls already love (Cool Stance). And as long as I can find enough grazing each day I can carry enough feed for both horses to last at least 4 days or more.

In addition to food, keep water in mind. Horses need a LOT of water. It's really great if you can have a ready source at or near where you camp, but at some point they're going to have to drink their fill.

Longriders guild is the best source of information I've seen out there for this kind of riding. You might like to do some shorter trips or a week or two just get the horses and yourself adjusted. Helps in sorting out what you really need and what you can do without. If your horses are unshod you won't need a farrier. Helps if you know how to do any trimming you might need. I've never had shod horses and found that my horses rarely needed trimming when I was riding all day almost ever day. The normal wear kept them pretty trim and in good shape. But they do need trimming if their not getting ridden long and often enough to keep them worn.

Best of luck and have fun. I'll likely be doing it with two horses (and maybe my dog?....wonder if I can teach her to pull a travois for carrying more provisions ).
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-16-2012, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by its lbs not miles View Post
Best of luck and have fun. I'll likely be doing it with two horses (and maybe my dog?....wonder if I can teach her to pull a travois for carrying more provisions ).
Excellant advice! I had a backpack for my dog when I'd go camping or wandering about the country side. She carried her own treats and water for both of us. Handy thing to have.




Of course it would have been nice to be able to ride her everywhere...
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post #9 of 10 Old 01-16-2012, 09:51 PM
Yearling
 
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I'm interested in this kind of riding too. Having a horse that's a natural easy keeper is probably a plus. I have a couple of mustangs who never change much with the seasons except to grow longer coats in winter, and another horse that I struggle to keep enough weight on even being there to personally feed him every day.
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post #10 of 10 Old 01-16-2012, 10:29 PM
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Mustangs are great for handling low quality and little food. Great easy keepers and good at going the distance. Just keep an eye on the weight being carried. They are sturdy animals, but still subject to the effects of how much they have to carry (even when they seem to keep going regardless :) ).
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