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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,
My friend and I are really into trail riding, and we want to start backcountry camping with our horses in national parks and other areas. We live in Iowa, so there's not really anything "backcountry" to try. We have gone camping before, and that was pretty successful! But, I wanted to know if you guys knew of any books or websites or even videos that help you prepare for a backcountry trip. Also, does anyone have advice, suggestions on where and how to start?

Our horses are both pretty well trained. My horse, Rusty, will go over bridges, go up hills, go down gullies, go over logs and brush, and goes through water without a fuss. My friend's horse does pretty much the same, although he hasn't had as much experience with water. They're both not generally spooky horses and are very reliable in general.

Here are some of my questions, but please tell me anything and everything you know!

-How do you pack to go backcountry camping? Can you put everything in saddle bags, or do you use another horse or other stock as a pack animal?

-Because many national parks don't allow you to bring in hay, do you use hay pellets if they don't allow grazing?

-How do you keep your horses protected from wildlife like bears that might want to prey on them?

-How do you condition for a weeklong trail experience?

-Can you get a tent that can somehow fit into a saddle bag?

-Do you use high-lines/picketing or temporary fencing and why?

-Do you use hobbles, and what are they good for?

-Do you shoe your horses for these rides if they go barefoot usually? Is there a certain type of shoe you should get to avoid slipping on rock? Should you get all four hooves shod or just the fronts?

-How do you care for yourself hygienically? Do you wash in a creek, not wash at all, forgo the toothbrush, etc?

-Which would be more comfortable, an Australian saddle or a western saddle? What are some of the most economical yet comfortable brands?

-What kinds of foods do you take with you? And how do you dehydrate foods?

-Do you prefer boiling water, using iodine tablets, or using a filtered water bottle and why?

-Is the water safe for horses to drink if it contains giardia since it isn't safe for us?

This is all I can think of for now, but please, tell me everything!
 

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I will have to break this down in to segments or it will turn into a book. On our first western pack in trip my wife and I paid someone to haul in our gear. That way we could learn what we needed and what was excessive. Our first tent was a quality two person mountain tent that you could absolutely count on to keep you dry. Good sleeping bags and air mattresses are a must because you have to have a good nights sleep. Freeze dried foods are all available but I prefer MRE's because they are odorless and will not attract bears if you are in bear country. I have experimented with MRE's in the back country by putting them out so the dumbest bear on the planet could find them and they go untouched. At camp I hang them in a tree along with my pellet type horse feed. You can't have too much rope and parachute cord either because I like to hang my saddle and saddle bags so they don't get chewed on. I carry water purification tablets along with a purification pump. I would start hobbling my horses right away and get them used to it. I prefer a portable corral with and electrified fence because my horses are used to it. One that is big enough that they can graze. Then as soon as you are up and going get them out of the enclosure on hobbles so that they don't graze out their pen in one day. After a couple days you can relocate the penned area. I like to feed a small amount of pellets to get them used to being fed morning and evening so in the event that they get loose they will hopefully come back at meal time. There are all kinds of rules and regs out there depending on where you are going. I have never camped out in a National Park - only in a National Forest, but there are plenty of rules that we all have to follow or we will turn our forests in to a mess. When I leave I like to leave the laid over grass where my tent was and that's it. I have seen more fire rings out in the boonies than I care to see. Campfires are not a necessity for me so I use a Svea stove and I don't leave any ashes, but that is not for everybody. If you have to build one disperse the rocks so the ring is gone. With MRE's you are going to have to carry out some trash because even if you burn them you always have a little trash. You might consider coming down here to Missouri and try the Berryman trail. It is a 25 mile circle with some creeks and ponds for the horses to drink and there are some springs and an artesian well that you can drink from (with your purification tablets). The Berryman is south of the town of Bourbon Missouri and you should find it on a map. If not let me know and I will get a map to you. When we were just getting started we would hide some hay in the weeds at one of the campgrounds and then drive to another and park. Then ride back to the camp with the hay and overnight there - usually using an overhead picket line. That way you could pretend that you were back in the boonies but you would have your hay and picket line waiting for you. I hope this helps
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Herosbud,
Great information, thank you! And I will look into Berryman's! My friend and I are always looking for a ride, and her boyfriend wants to come along as well - fortunately, he's in Missouri! :)

So, what exactly are MREs? I've never heard of them before. But that's great that they don't attract bears! That's something that we don't need lol.

So THAT'S the reason behind hobbles. So, in the event that a place would not allow you to graze your horse, would you use hay pellets then? And how much do those electric portable corrals cost?

How do those portable stoves work? I think I would prefer a campfire (controlled by a "homemade" ring of rocks, of course, definitely remember Smokey the Bear!) just because it seems more...primitive? Haha, I really don't know.

We're college students, so the less stuff we have to invest in the better. I would like to get a better tent though - my friend's tent leaked at the last campout we went to, and my clothes got all wet! The horses had a blast though, and so did we. And after calculating some costs, it seems a lot less expensive to hit the trails than to go to a jumping show. :p I've been itching to travel, and there's nothing better than by horseback! Being outdoors without all the stress of cell phones, classes, jobs, just seems really peaceful and therapeutic. I truly enjoy every trail ride I go on, but I don't always enjoy every show I go to. And my friend, my best friend I should say, is on the same wavelength as me when it comes to trail riding - the sky's the limit! It's refreshing after taking so many trail rides with another friend who freaks out every time there's a hill (and this is Iowa, mind you) and always wants to go back, whereas I want to see more! And she always rode my horse, Rusty, because he's so good on the trail, so I had to ride my ornery show horse...

ANYWAY, I'm off topic now! By the way, your picture wouldn't load up for me. I don't know if my Internet is too slow or is something is not working with the link. But if that's your Arab in your profile picture, he looks just like my Arab! And you could write a novel about this topic and I would thoroughly enjoy reading it!
 

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Username Trails on the forums here has his own website TrailMeister - The Largest Horse Trail and Camping Directory in North America and has played around a lot with packing lightly. That sounds more along your line of fun as poor college students as it only requires one horse per rider instead of pack animals. I would highly recommend spending some time investigating this site and reading the articles as they are very informative.

Now to answer some of your questions from my experience:

-You can pack lightly and use just one horse, how much you need depends on how many nights you intend to be gone. If you can't let your horse graze in the area you wont be doing much packing with one horse.

-Grazing horses. You can hand graze (yawn), hobble or stake them out. For hobbles or stakes you had best practice with your horse prior to going camping. Trying to work out the kinks on the fly doesn't usually work well.

-1 gallon zip lock bag holds about 3 pounds of sweet feed, half a bag in the morning and the rest in the evening works quite well along with grazing.

-State/federal parks where I live require processed feed or certified weed free hay. Get caught with feed that doesn't fit those two categories and you are facing quite a large fine.

-Sleeping. Share a two person tent to cut down on the number of tents. Use a hammock (dry/warm). Use those cheap plastic tarps and make a cover to sleep under. Buy light weight tents, sleeping bags that pack down to almost nothing. Easy to find at most outdoor stores. They also have sleeping pads that get real small for packing that you'll appreciate having if you've ever slept on a rock or two.

-High line or portable pen both work. Again it's about training your horse to them before going. My personal preference it high line.

-Don't worry about bears attacking your horse, not likely to happen. Do worry about them raiding your larder....That's why you hang food up in the air out of reach.

-Shoes or barefoot. Depends on the condition of their feet and the terrain you'll be covering. Poor hoof walls, shoe. Lots of rock, shoe. Bad feet in general, shoe. Alternately you can go barefoot. In either case take boots along just in case your bare foot horse gets sore or your shod horse loses a shoe.

-Taking care of yourself....How much can you stand your own smell?!?! Take a tooth brush for sure. Baths are haphazard, depends on the time of the year and how much water is available. Take a bar of soap and a chammy towel so when you have a chance you can. Chammy towels are nice because they dry quickly.

-Saddle to use is quite personal, what fits your butt the best for long rides? For packing you do want latigos and D rings to tie to/with.

-Food. I take freeze dried food for breakfast/dinner while lunch is just some kind of snack that will stick with you like peanut butter crackers. Take a portable stove to heat water in so you can use hot water for your meal and to make coffee or tea. Cold water works too but if it's cold outside you'll want the hot food. Again check outdoor stores for a light portable stove. MRE is the military acronym for the freeze dried food they provide troops while in the field. One piece of advice for cold weather packing, buy meals for two instead of one, you'll appreciate the extra calories in each meal.

-Water purification. Tabs or filter pumps both work. I prefer filter pumps myself as I prefer not to have to strain the junk/dirt out between my teeth. Using both is the best and safest way to go. Yes you can boil your water too but the last thing you want to do is run out of water mid day, stop at a creek, unpack your portable stove and boil the water then let it cool all before getting that drink of water you crave...Don't worry about your horse and drinking that stream water, they'll be just fine.
 

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-How do you pack to go backcountry camping? Can you put everything in saddle bags, or do you use another horse or other stock as a pack animal?
The short answer is you can do it with one, but it will depend on many things. Basically how light are you wiling to travel (i.e. what can you do without)

-Because many national parks don't allow you to bring in hay, do you use hay pellets if they don't allow grazing?
I've managed to always avoid anyplace where grazing is not allowed. I do carry feed though. NO grain, sweet feed or other junk. You want something that's good for them and easy to digest. Beet pulp is a favorite for most people I've known that go out. I also take copra (which is digested in the foregut). They are also seed free for places that have thatrestriction. If you're going to be out for an extended time add a little salt, possibly any supplements to the list. For the rest you'll need some grazing.

-How do you keep your horses protected from wildlife like bears that might want to prey on them?
I've never worried about it.

-How do you condition for a weeklong trail experience?
Actually ride them and simulate the distance and amount of time you're planning on.

-Can you get a tent that can somehow fit into a saddle bag?
You can get small, light, one or two person tents. I use to just use ground cloth that I would wrap around things. It served as a shelter in rain. I skip the sleeping bag. A full size wool blanket trifolded serves as my saddle blanket and to keep me warm at night.

-Do you use high-lines/picketing or temporary fencing and why?
Staking out with hobbles is my first choice because there might be place to set up a high line. Temporary fencing means you have to carry it (one more thing to carry...better get some pack animals which means more work).

-Do you use hobbles, and what are they good for?
Hobbles give me something to attach them to the stake and it you don't stake it generally keeps them from going too awfully far away (a bell can help you find them).

-Do you shoe your horses for these rides if they go barefoot usually? Is there a certain type of shoe you should get to avoid slipping on rock? Should you get all four hooves shod or just the fronts?
If your horse is not already shod don't shoe it. If their feet are not already conditioned for the type of ground you'll be riding on and you don't have the time or means of getting them conditioned then use boots. The feet will be able to function normally and you can just remove them when you don't need them. They'll also keep for the next time if you want to do it all again.

-How do you care for yourself hygienically? Do you wash in a creek, not wash at all, forgo the toothbrush, etc?
Brushing teeth was never optional for me. I did carry that. Bathing was optional depending on convenience (and temperature), but I was always alone so it didn't matter.

-Which would be more comfortable, an Australian saddle or a western saddle? What are some of the most economical yet comfortable brands?
That is entirely a personal preference. Ride 25 miles a day for 5 days and see how you feel. You'll be able to sort out what works best for you and your horse. My stock saddle is comfortable, but weighs more than my trooper so it cuts down on how much I can carry.

-What kinds of foods do you take with you? And how do you dehydrate foods?
If you can stomach Meals Rejected Everywhere (or by Everyone) :lol: (i.e. MRE's) then I'd go with those. Light, easy to back and plenty of calories to keep you going. You can also dehydrate and make your own light food to carry.

-Do you prefer boiling water, using iodine tablets, or using a filtered water bottle and why?
I've done the boiling water (and charcoal filtering) back in my survival camping days. Would not recommend it (it's one of the things that's nice to know and hope to never have to use). The new filtering pumps today can be so much better. purification tablets do work and are the easiest option (if you're ok with them). I used them a lot in my youth.

-Is the water safe for horses to drink if it contains giardia since it isn't safe for us?
:lol: Yes, 99.99999% of the time. A mud hole can work for a thirsty horse.

This is all I can think of for now, but please, tell me everything!
What I would suggest, to make sure you and your horses are ready, is going camping around home for a few days (you can ride in big circular routes) to test out how you want to deal with the horses for feed and at night. Also lets you see how you'll manage with the gear you want to take. You might dump some or add some. It will also let you see how your horses do with the load.
Doing that will certainly leave you better prepared and aware before you actually do it away from home.
 
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you have gotten some good advice here, so I am just going to add a few things. I have used a pack animal and I have not used a pack animal. I am big time about minimalist camping. there are several "tube" tents that will easily fit into saddlebags, but they are very much lacking in the comfort department.
What I usually do is fill my saddlebags with bagged feed and alfalfa cube. All the human gear goes into a day pack style back pack that I wear.
I carry my old boy scout mess kit for cooking and eating, whatever foodstuffs I use, a change of undies, and a spare shirt or two, a rain poncho, along with baby wipes (easier and far more multifunctional than tp), a water purification system like this (Amazon.com: Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter: Sports & Outdoors ), a bar of soap, toothbrush, tooth paste and an empty 1 liter water bottle.
If you take the water bottle and drill (or use a hot nail) a hole in the cap it makes for a very effective and efficient shower system. Fill it with available water and lay it in the sun to warm. then spray yourself down, lather up and rinse.
Also a good antibacterial bar of soap , such as lever 2000, is effective for dish washing.
I cannot stress enough the fact that everything you choose for minimalist camping should serve at the very least double, if not triple, duty.
You should also carry at least 2 different ways to make fire, and be proficient with both ( I carry matches/lighter and and a Swedish fire tool. One in my pack the other in my pocket if I get separated from my horse)
Amazon.com: Light My Fire Original Swedish FireSteel Army 12,000 Strike Fire Starter - Black: Sports & Outdoors
Also in my pocket I carry and old pill bottle filled with cotton balls covered in Vaseline to use to start a fire, they take a spark easily and will burn for upwards of 10 minutes. I cannot stress enough taking time to practice how to start a fire. Be competent in it and it will make your life in the backcountry easier.
I also carry a pistol, but that is a very personal decision. As a former LEO I am very confident and competent in its use (as is my horse), against both 2 legged and 4 legged threats.
I hope this helps......Kevin
 

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Just read all these VERY interesting Posts. I have always wanted to do multi day camping trips but have not. I am now old enough to want a bed and shower each night. BUT, I still love to read about others doing it.

My question... Why can animals drink the water with the bug/germ that makes us so sick?? Just a random thought that went thru my mind on last weekends ride when my mare was slurping up some creek water. wonder what is so different in their system from ours that makes it ok for them?? anyone know???

Rhonda
 

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Corazon, Sorry about the picture not being there. I'm not the techyist guy on the planet so I could use some help there if somebody could give me adice. You have gotten some good advice here so you are going to have to experiment and see what works for you. My strongest opinion would be that you just do it. If you don't give it a try you will always wish that you did.
 

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Corazon, Try clicking on my last post and see if that comes up for you. It did for me. That was taken at the base of the Flat Tops in Colorado a few years ago. It was a trip that I will long remember (In a good way).
 

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I'll just add a few thoughts. I'm assuming you're thinking of going by yourselves, not on a professionally-guided pack trip?

First, go backpacking until you are fairly proficient at handling yourself out there. You don't need to be worrying about your horse while you're trying to figure out how to set up camp and feed & wash yourself.

Second, start with some horse camping, where you trailer in to a campground, camp there, and do day trips out. Gradually work into doing everything just as you would on a pack trip, but with the emergency backup right there in the trailer.
 

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Corazon Lock, Reading through all the responses you have been given a lot of advice, now you need to find out for yourself, as everyone else has what works best for you. There are a lot of good books and information available but noting beats hands on experience. Trailmeister is a great resource, he is a good friend of mine where he leans toward traveling light I just add another pack animal and take what ever I want. I spend all summer wondering around the Bob Marshall Wilderness pulling a string and commercially packing. MREs and freeze dried food are ok but you can't beat a T-bone over the fire. Good luck
 

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-How do you pack to go backcountry camping? Can you put everything in saddle bags, or do you use another horse or other stock as a pack animal?
This really depends on how much you weigh and how much your horse can comfortably carry and how far you are going. I rarely pack on my saddle horse, because I'm a big guy with a 45 lb western saddle, But I often throw stuff on my daughters horse where she barely break 100lbs and uses a 20lb saddle

-Because many national parks don't allow you to bring in hay, do you use hay pellets if they don't allow grazing? Bring certified feed if you are camping on public lands or plan on letting your horses graze. I usually turn my horses out for about 1 hour Morning and evening and while we eat lunch. I keep an eye on them, as long as their heads are down eating, fine, But as soon as their heads come up and they start looking around, I collect them and tie them up. Let them graze what they can and fill in the extra calories with grain.

-How do you keep your horses protected from wildlife like bears that might want to prey on them? Never had a problem. Did have a moose chase them away from their hay, came out of my tent and find my horses standing at the end of their lead ropes while a moose was easting their hay. Your best bet is to keep a clean camp and not attract predators.

-How do you condition for a weeklong trail experience? Just like yourself. get out and do some exercise. Going for a 2 hour trail ride a couple times a week will help your horse during camp out. Just make your first few camp outs a little shorter till you are comfortable

-Can you get a tent that can somehow fit into a saddle bag? Folks use anything imagineable for shelter. Old cowboys used bedrolls. Modern hikers use the hammocks with a nylon sleeve for shelter. I've slept under the stars in good weather, and packed Canvas wall tents with wood burning stoves in fall hunting camps.

-Do you use high-lines/picketing or temporary fencing and why?I've used all of the above. I often pack in a roll of hot wire and a few fiberglass rods and set up a hot wire around a meadow that I let the horses graze in. But I always tie the horses to a highline at night. Had too many deer/elk run thru hot wires at night and drag off the hot wire.The enclosure works fine during the day when I can see the horses. But I want them secured at night. Others put a bell on them and let them graze all night and go find them in morning

-Do you use hobbles, and what are they good for?I use hobbles a lot. I hobble the horses and turn them out to let them graze at lunch or around camp. My horses can run faster in hobbles than I can run, But they tire faster and won't run as far. Make sure your horses have been introduced to hobbles and are comfortable wearing them

-Do you shoe your horses for these rides if they go barefoot usually? Is there a certain type of shoe you should get to avoid slipping on rock? Should you get all four hooves shod or just the fronts?I kept my horses barefoot for 5 years. They could go anywhere for a day, But I found they got tender footed when I rode in the mountains for multiple days. So I shoe now during the summer months. Again, just expierment, go on a short camp out and see how they do, increase you stay and see how they perform, Carry some boots in case they get sore.

-How do you care for yourself hygienically? Do you wash in a creek, not wash at all, forgo the toothbrush, etc?I can't stand pillowhead hair, So I dunk my head in water and clean up every day. I prefer to heat that water if possible. but folks have seen me jump in cold streams and lakes to get my bath. For me I bring a small vial of biodegradable soap and use river/lake water to clean up

-Which would be more comfortable, an Australian saddle or a western saddle? What are some of the most economical yet comfortable brands?This is personal preferance. I prefer western saddles

-What kinds of foods do you take with you? And how do you dehydrate foods?The beauty of packing with horses, is I can bring real food with me and not eat the dehydrated stuff. But if you are trying to go light, Buy some pack food from places that hikers frequent. REI, Cabelas, Sportsmans Warehouse etc. MREs are Military food packs. High calories, easy to store at most temps, but not the lightest, but still lighter than real food. Perishables need to be eaten the first day. So thats the day I eat bacon, steaks etc. The following days, we eat more bread, powdered soup ( like Brocholi cheese, cheese potato dry mixes that we add water and bring to a boil and dig rolls in. Also you can bake potatos in camp fire and cover with chilli or hearty soups. Pancakes for breakfast, I also bring potatos, onions, carrots and mix in a can of canned chicken for stew


-Do you prefer boiling water, using iodine tablets, or using a filtered water bottle and why?I try to bring bottle water to drink, use natural water for cleaning, cooking etc. I carry a water purifyier that I can pump water when I need to. I don't like the taste of iodine tablets.

-Is the water safe for horses to drink if it contains giardia since it isn't safe for us?No problem for the horses/dogs

For starters, try camping at your trailer and doing day rides into areas. You can easily ride 20 miles in a day, which gives you a nice loop to go in and return to your trailer. Keep all your horse feed at the trailer and just let them graze during your lunch stop.

After you become comfortable doing this, try an overnighter in the back country. then work up to spending several nights.
 

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I don't go on camping trips with my horses but I do camp a good bit during hunting season with just what i can carry. Generally all my stuff is based on equipment that would be used in the late 1700's. ( historical trekking is what its called.) i figure IfI can live pretty comfortably for a weekend or 4 days or so with just what I'm carrying in my person, a horse would just make it that much easier. Here is a quick list of what I carry. I'm sure I will miss something.

1.Flintlock rifle and shot bag(everything I would need to fire and repair my gun if minor things happen is in there and a compass)
2. Haversack( in there)
a. extra socks(wool)
b. extra mocasins
c . a sewing kit
d. a folding knife
e,hemp twine or other cordage (for tying , lashing, and birds nest for fire starting)
f, fire kit. (flint and steel)
g. water purification tabs( very important)
h. a small first aid kit
3. Bed roll ( wool blanket, sometimes an oil cloth tarp for shelter)
In the bed roll
a.usually and extra shirt
b.a small cast iron frying pan with lid.
My food in the pan. Ussually grits or rice . something that alittle bit goes along way. Salt and pepper
In a linen sack some cheese and jerkey. And I hopefully suplement my food with game I harvest.
c. a tin cup( to boil water in)
4. a canteen
5. a good knife
6. a small tomahawk or camp axe

I'm sure I will think of other small incidentals later but this is just a quick basic list of what I carry on my person. You can substitute the 18th century technology with modern stuff and probably stay under 30 pound easily. I think everything I carry minus the rifle and shot bag is right at 30 pounds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Everyone,
Thanks for all of the advice! I really appreciate it and am really excited to start doing all of this!

To clarify, we've camped with our horses once, this past October. It was just a campground thing where you parked right next to where you camped. The horses were on high ties both nights. A bunch of...well...drunken ******** showed us the trails the next day. Wish we would have gone alone. They were so drunk that they started making their own trails, which is when we ditched them. Besides, looking for the Lonesome Dove sign got old really fast! Anyway, our horses did great, but I learned that I definitely need a new western saddle or an Aussie saddle...I didn't know saddle sores were a real thing! :p The problem we did have was that our tent got wet inside at night. So I was wondering what the most waterproof tents are.

Okay, and I know someone asked this, so I'll clear this up to. We'd be going by ourselves, not some guided pack trip. Neither of us are into those - we're both independent and adventurous.

Originally, we wanted to go to Glacier National Park this summer, but we're going to save that for next year and hit the Black Hills instead - that way we can get a taste of this before we go mountaineering way out west. I blog (if you haven't noticed lol!), so I'm hoping to get many more weekend camping trips in in Iowa and Minnesota this spring, summer, and fall.
 

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Summer camp outs, I often pack a small dome tent. This tent will shelter 3 people squished or two very comfortable. It weighs 12 lbs


Hunting season I pack in a wall tent. It's about 150 lbs, for the tent, poles and wood burning stove. So it take a pack horse all by itself



A mare hobbled and out grazing in the evening around camp


Some camp grounds offer hitching rails


Some desert rides have no trees, So we camp with the horses tied to the trailer


I just turned these two horses loose while I cooked breakfast. But there was so much blown down timber in the trees, it was almost a natural corral. But the horses were much more interested in eating than in running off.


Horses hobbled and grazing while we eat lunch


Some Forest Service and BLM trail heads have corrals on a first come first serve basis


Here I have a hot wire around a meadow and 19 horses turned out grazing. Again we catch and high line all the horses at dark.


My horses are pretty good at coming when I call, So I sometimes just turn them loose. I do keep and eye on them, as long as they are eating, I'll leave them. But about an hour and they will start lifting their heads and start to wander, Thats when I catch them tie them


Here they have hobbles on and I threw the lead over their backs. If they get excited and start moving fast. the lead drags and they step on it once or twice and stand still


Camping at the horse trailer. I prefer to highline, If I tie to the trailer, The horses keep me awake all night tugging on their leads.


And sometimes you just have to brave the cold water and take a bath in the lake
 

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Glacier, The Bob Marshall, the Yellowstone area all have grizzlies, You have to be more careful about your camps in grizzly country than when you are just around black bears. Usually I can just yell or holler at a black bear and get it to skidaddle. Grizzlies don't fear man as much and pose a bigger threat. You may just want to get a little more seasoned at camping before you venture into their territory.

Wyoming, Colorado and Utah all have lots of excellent areas to ride and camp. There are lots of places where you could get all the riding you want and still camp at your trailer each night. This would allow you to sleep in the gooseneck at night or when it's raining, Or sweep out the back if it is a bumper pull and sleep in the horse area. Trail heads often have potable water, maybe out houses, and often corrals for the horses. It makes it a little easier for your earlier camp outs while you learn the skills.

If you can afford an extra horse. I find I can easily pack gear for two maybe three riders on one extra pack horse


It makes it more comfortable to ride your horse with out having tons of stuff tied onto your saddle


I usually have my lunch and rain gear tied on my horse. During hunting season, a rifle. So I much prefer to lead a pack horse with tents, stoves, sleeping bags etc. Especially in the fall when the temps are much colder


When I didn't have extra horses, We just packed out horses using canvas saddle panniers that we threw over our normal saddles. We walked in leading our horses as they packed. Once at camp,w e unloaded the horses and we could ride them from camp.

This horse got tired and didn't wait to get unloaded when we got back to the truck


During the fall, there often just isn't enough grass for the horses. So we pack in cubes or pellets for them to eat. But this often requires an extra trip between the truck and the camp. One trip packing our gear, second/third trips packing feed, depending on how long we camp.


Here we are going in september, The pack horse is only hauling a chain saw and fuel as we just wanted to clear the trail and cut some fire wood where we camp in October.
 

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First, I would learn to camp overnight by taking it in baby steps.
Find a national forest that is close to you and just do one night. I LIKE the idea of having a friend haul in your gear the first time.
Second, if you board--you didn't say--see if anyone in your barn does this, and see if you could plan one trip with them to help you.
Third, Do NOT use your horse as a pack horse unless and until he is reliably trained to do so. Train and practice this at home, first.
Fourth, a pack horse is essential if you have a LOT of gear.
DH and I (and our daughters) did a lot of trail riding and camping in the Black Hills, SD, and we retired after 26 years of CW Reenacting which involves a great deal of camping. Frankly, the US Cavalry gear covers everything you would need and the Cavalry soldier carried an extra set of reins, girth, grain bag and a picket pin (for grazing), on the saddle and into battle.
We discovered that early on you way overpack. The last years we pared down to a canvas tarp as out tent and often either used sabers to support it at the openings or used a rope between 2 trees. Nix the air mattress bc they are notorious for leaking and a waste for any overnighting. We used our horse's saddle pads and a bedroll with sheets, blankets and extra underwear/socks rolled up in a bedspread, with a rubber "gum blanket" underneath to keep everything dry. You only need two pairs of underclothes and socks for a week, bc you MUST consider that your horses are carrying everything AND you, so doing the serious backpacker trick of drilling holes in toothbrushes actually makes sense. The Cavalry did that for the horse, too. He carried a dry blanket and you tacked up a 2nd one with the saddle, then you switched so that the horse would have the dry one.
On our longest event, "Red River, LA", we had food from our "quartermasters" and somebody carried our grain for us, but that can be carried on a packsaddle. Every day THAT load gets lighter, and you can use canvas to make bags for grain, which you stitch closed and rip open to use.
Regarding tents I have yet to use one that wasn't canvas that really repelled water. On the other hand, I have had leaky, lightweight ones more often than I wished. I guess if it's in the middle of the summer you probably won't get chilled if you get wet.
We discovered that you if you secure your herd leader you will not lose any of the rest of the herd bc they will stick close to him. We also enjoyed watching how far other people's hobbled horses could travel in an hour. We used a picket line, made of rope, and high enough so that the horses could walk underneath it. This must also be practiced and sometimes your herd leader will need to be secured directly next to the tree so that he doesn't beat the snot out of whichever horse is next to him. Our old herd had so much practice with this at events where we camped 2 nights average every weekend, that we knew who to put where, but we also tied knots for the leads in the picket line so that they couldn't tangle up with each other. Do NOT put 2 horses that don't know each other next to each other on a line the first time while you are camping!! You will probably be too far away for a Vet to do any stitching and I have seen fights and cuts happen bc, well, people were stupid and assumed that ALL horses will "just get along." The bottom horse always takes the brunt of this. Usually campers take a couple of old, nonusable girths or cinches to protect the trees that they are tying to.
You NEED water purification tablets. People have lost the bacteria in the gut necessary to drink water directly from streams and creeks or rivers or ponds or lakes. In a pinch, you can boil your water.
IMHO, if you want to camp in the Black Hills, I would suggest that you start at French Creek in Custer State Park. It is pretty big, you are right in the park where you won't be crossing lots of roads, and you only need to avoid Buffalo Cows and their calves, instead of worrying about dangerous predators. They also have latrines, showers and can direct you to ALL of the supplies that you might need. Get your reservation early bc they fill fast.
We have camped in the Co Rockies and the differences between rolling hills in the Black Hills and very steep climbs is night and day, but you FEEL as if you are in the mountains.
 
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