Originally Posted by Freelance Cowgirl
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