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					                                          Got Camp?
Ahhh Spring!
    In less than a week, we will all turn our clocks forward and the world will be better for it.
As horse owner's we all look forward to the turning of the clock and the new year's real beginning. And in
honor of our glorious first days of spring, I want to share with you one of my favorite things to do with my
horse. That would be horse camping.
Horse camping is the one thing that I do, that I really enjoy more than anything else. The chance to be
outside and away from it all, with my horse and dogs and maybe a few close friends. It's what I live for in
the summer. If you have never been camping with your horse why not pick a weekend and try it out. The
costs are minimal for a mini vacation that will supply you with wonderful memories that cannot be
duplicated, but only made better by the next time you can get away from it all with your horse.

   Some of the things that you may want to look for pertain to your personal needs and tastes. For
instance, do you need a campground that has larger or pull through parking area; more able to suit a
bigger rig? Or do you absolutely have to have electricity? A nearby supply of running potable water is not
always a necessity, that's if you don't mind hauling your water with you, but it sure is nice.

There are many ways to try out horse camping, even if you are on a budget or if you aren't sure that you'll
want to do this again and don't want to spend a fortune on gear. Most places that offer horse camping will
have a variety of different types of sites with a varied price list. This may include anything from what are
called primitive, all the way up to opulent cabin rentals. I usually prefer something in the middle; with
running water and electrical hookups.



    For your horses comfort there are as many ways to keep them with you as a person could want. Many
places have panel pens right at your camp, some allow picket or “high lines” to be put up, some places
even have these already available and are permanent fixtures. Most places will also offer barns with stalls
available. The costs for these different options are as varied as the sites are; be sure to check it out and
ask when you call to reserve your spot, you may be pleasantly surprised at the low costs of keeping your
horse safe and sound.


    Let's talk about what you will need for your trip. These needs are as varied as you want to make them.
They range from the very simple basic things that you probably already have in your home or garage to
elaborate setups that make comfort a given.

    If you are camping in a cabin, what you will have to bring is of course minimal, your groceries, your
personal items, and sometimes, depending on the cabin, your bedding. Be sure to ask about that, as
some supply it and some do not. Even though you are camping in a cabin you will most likely want a fire,
so ask about fire wood, is it supplied or should you bring your own? And always ask about pets if you are
planning to bring your dogs with you.
For those of us who camp in a more primitive manner, the list is a bit longer. You need to make sure that
the sites offered are a suitable size for your rig, that it has the above mentioned water and or electrical
supply. Is there a bath house nearby? Shady or sunny, and again, is firewood supplied or do you need to
bring your own or can you purchase it on site. I can guarantee you that even on the warmest nights you
want to have a fire. And do not forget to ask if dogs are allowed. Most campgrounds allow dogs on leash.

   Although many campgrounds will have hay available to purchase, you will probably want to bring your
hay and grain from home. I suggest a hay-net or bag to keep falling hay to a minimum. And although
some camps supply feed buckets, I always bring my own.
    Since sagging hay-nets can be a source of problems once the hay is gone, be sure to remove it from
your horses vicinity as soon as they are done eating. As an extra safety precaution, I also use a clip or
bull snap at the bottom end of the bag and clip it to the high line during the time that it is available to my
horse. Once the hay is gone and the bag has been removed, I use a trailer tie to hang my feed bucket up
until it is emptied and then as with the net, I remove it immediately; rinse it out and use the same to offer
water several times a day.

     As horse owners always should, be sure to tie your horse so that it has just enough lead rope to stand
comfortably. If you are using your own picket line, remember to check it occasionally and make sure that
it has not sagged from the horses pulling on it. Especially if it is a new rope, keep in mind that wet
weather will also cause sagging.

   Your picket rope should be about 100 feet long and about 3/4 or 1 inch thick. I'll bet you are thinking, "
100 feet! I'll never use that! ". Trust me, you will use it. Trees can be far apart, you may have to add a
section if someone stops by your camp and your horses do not get along, it's handy to pull mired trucks
and trailers out with. And it's always good to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

    As far as ropes go there are several choices to go with. My favorite is your good old basic hemp rope,
you know; the mellow yellowish kind that you see in every old barn. It's strong, it's supple and there's
usually a good supply of it lying around. It's one main drawback is that it tends to stretch more than the
other types until it gets broke in. Then there is rock climbing rope that has become quite available in
home repair mega stores. I don't really like this, as it has a separate core and although it's stout enough
to save your life if you should fall off the mountain, it is not strong enough to withstand a panicked horse.
And last but not least there is nylon, it's to slippery to tie a decent knot with, and horses pulling on it can
tend to loosen them pretty fast. Stick with good old "barn rope" and I think you'll be pleased. Always use
tree savers too. You can buy them from a catalog or they are easy to make yourself. And don't forget your
knot savers, you can get them from the same catalog, you will need one for each horse.

   I usually find that stringing my picket line about eight feet high is quite sufficient. I place my knot
savers as far apart as space allows, and just use a lead rope or a trailer tie to secure my horses halters to
them.

    If your horse has never been picketed on a high line, don't let this discourage you from camping, even
a nervous horse gets used to a picket line with no problem, they can still move their feet and will settle
down with in a few minutes. Just as a side note; some places will allow you to put up a portable electric
corral. But I have found these to be few and far between.


     Some horses will refuse to drink strange water, so if you have one of those; you may want to prepare
for this by treating your home water with some kool aid, molasses or syrup for a few days prior to your
trip. That way the change is much less important to your horse.
If you are worried about putting your horse in a pen or stall that may or may not have been properly
disinfected before your arrival; a spray bottle or pump sprayer with a ten percent bleach mix will alleviate
any unwanted worries and concerns that you may have. And since campsites with panel pens and picket
line areas may be mushy due to the weather you might want to consider bringing a bag or two of
shavings from home to spread around the area. And above all, don't forget a muck bucket and manure
fork to pick your horses area with. People who choose to rent a stall will find that most places supply
wheelbarrows and muck forks.

    Why not take a chance this spring, and try it out. You will be rewarded with a new experience that
you'll always remember. Camping with your horse is like no other experience with him or her. It brings a
closeness that is hard to duplicate. When you live with your horse for a few days it changes your
relationship for the better. Your communication skills improve, your partnership only benefits both of you
and you both get a change from the daily routines that we so easily fall into. Both you and your horse will
appreciate the break.
   And with this, I wish you Happy Trails and Camping Tales.




You can find lists of horse camps online and there is a state by state horse campground rating list at:
http://www.trailriderdirectory.com/




You can find lists of horse camps online and there is a state by state horse campground rating list at:
http://www.trailriderdirectory.com/

				
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