It’s time to go camping in the backcountry. Your truck and trailer can make it part way, thanks to their rugged horse trailer tires and off-road capabilities, but it’ll just be you and your horse for the rest of it. Never tried camping with your horse? We’ve got all the resources you need to get your hooved companion from the ranch to the woods. Take a day off from wrangling the cattle, and enjoy the summer outdoors.
Horse Trailer Tires
The first step to enjoying the backcountry on horseback is getting there. That means properly trailering your horse. As you will likely be going off road for part of the trip, you’ll need versatile, long-lasting horse trailer tires, such as Velocity WR078 tires. For your truck, we recommend Kanati Mud Hog tires for your offroading needs.
If you are new to towing trailers, or just need to brush up on some handy tips, check out our handy guide.
Your horse should be properly trained for the backcountry. The Back Country Horsemen of America suggest, at the very least, your horse be accustomed to standing tied for extended periods of time, be halter broken, and trained to accept a rope around or under the tail. Ideally, your horse will also be trained in loading and hauling, hobbles, crossing water and streams, picket ropes, crossing obstacles, and tolerate noises and sudden movements such as the crinkling of maps or appearance of wildlife or other hikers.
Your horse should also not be at the beginning or end of a shoe cycle, to help prevent a shoe from coming off. Even so, have an Easy Boot just in case you need a replacement.
With a horse and trailer ready, it’s important to understand weight considerations. As the Trail Rider points out, horses take weight differently. A lighter horse may be able to 30 percent of its weight, while a 1,300-pound horse might only be able to comfortably pack out 20 percent.
“A hoof pick, a curry comb, a picket stake and rope (which can double as a highline), a pair of hobbles, an Easyboot (or other horse boot), and a basic equine first-aid kit are all relatively light items, but they add up,” Dan Aadland wrote for Trail Rider. “Further, there are serious challenges in distributing 50 pounds of gear on your horse in a way that doesn’t dangerously impede his ability to negotiate the trail while dampening your ability to ride him well and safely.”
Weight distribution is important in that it can hamper your horse’s movement if done improperly. Heavy items should be up front in horn bags. Weight behind the saddle is weight behind your horse’s center of gravity, and can also hamper mounting and dismounting. Western saddles, while heavier than English saddles, also distribute weight better.
Karen Bragg, president of Oregon Equestrian Trails, recommends cantle bags maxing out at about 20 pounds; saddlebags at 15 pounds; and horn bags up to 3 pounds.
What You Need
Finally, as Aadland mentioned, there are items you will need for taking your horse into the backcountry, all while being mindful of weight.
Adequate but minimal clothing is required. Blankets may also be a must, depending on the season and location.
Instead of a tent, a lightweight tarp shelter can serve the same purpose. Bivy sacks can replace sleeping bags.
Karen Bragg repackages food she is bringing to further lighten the load for her horse. Allowing your horse to graze will also alleviate weight.
Water for at least a day is needed, though erring on the side of caution is advised. A small, alcohol-powered camp stove is also recommended, unless you are highly confident in your ability to make and use a fire for food.
Enjoy the Outdoors
With the right horse trailer tires, properly trained horse, and important items properly packed and distributed across multiple bags, all that’s left is to choose a spot, drive out to a base camp, and ride in. From there, you should be all set to enjoy the great outdoors with your trusty steed.