Photo by Lauren Mueller – Spare halters for all of my horses hang on the hooks in my trailer, as well as a spare bridle for my only riding horse.
By Lauren Mueller, Editor
It’s summer, and for many of us, that means vacation. If you’re anything like me, vacation is both a blessing and a curse. Having three horses at home, it’s almost always a struggle to find someone to care for my herd while I’m away.
But what about on those trips where your horse goes with you? When you go camping and your herd gets to come along for a change of scenery and some much-needed anti-arena time?
There’s plenty of stress that goes along with those trips as well, especially when it comes to making sure you don’t get to the camp site and realize you forgot your halter. Or, worse, your horse.
So if you’re prepping for a pack trip this summer, here are a few things to add to your trailer checklist.
First, extra halters. There’s something terrifying about a horse that snaps his halter at the slightest swish of a bush. That terror is multiplied when he does so on a camping trip, snapping the only halter you had for him for the next two to three weeks. Sure, you could tie him by his bridle, but what if that is the next victim? An extra halter or two in your trailer can save you a lot of heartache and terror on your camping trip.
I keep a rope halter in my trailer tack room. They tend to hold up better than nylon halters, and don’t cost as much to replace as leather. If you’re not familiar with rope halters or don’t like how they work, any halter will do. It’s the idea of having a spare, not the type of spare to have.
Second, an extra bridle. Preferably, one already outfitted with a bit that your horse works well in. Maybe your old training bridle, or an old headstall you put aside when that new one you custom-ordered finally arrived. Whatever it is, having a spare bridle can save you in the same way spare halters can.
Third, a spare cinch. Whether you ride English or Western, never put it past your horse to figure out how to break anything you put near him. Cinches may seem like indestructible pieces of equipment, but having an extra doesn’t take up much space and it’s always better to be safe than sorry with horses.
Fourth, a pitchfork and muck bucket. Because horses have to use the restroom too, but they don’t have the courtesy to use a toilet.
Fifth, a water bucket. Even if you are at a campsite that is specifically designed for horses, you may find that water buckets are strangely lacking. Or they cost money to use. Besides, most horses are more comfortable drinking from a bucket that smells like their home than they are drinking from a strange trough that smells like horses they don’t know.
I also keep HorseQuencher with my water buckets when I’m traveling with my horses, even if it’s only a day trip. These types of products entice horses to drink, keeping them hydrated on the road. This is important when their systems are already stressed from travel. Any way you can get them to drink is a good way.
Sixth, extra feed. If you’re planning for a week, bring a week and a half of food. Seriously. Even if you expect good weather and perfect travel conditions, be prepared just in case. If you don’t use the food on the road, you can use it when you get back home. This goes back to the “better safe than sorry” mindset.
Seventh, extra blankets. This applies to winter blankets, fly sheets, and saddle pads. Even if you don’t think you’ll use them, having them could save you in the long run. Weather is unpredictable when you’re traveling, and it’s better to have the blanket than be caught without it. Besides, a good winter blanket can be extra padding for your sleeping bag on the hard ground.
Eighth, accessories. This includes bell boots, martingales, tie downs and anything else you and your horse use. Keeping extras of these things around can prevent melt-downs when your never-spooky steed decides that squirrel is out to get him and snaps his tie-town and noseband trying to escape. This way, you can keep riding despite the killer tiny beastie.
Ninth, brushes. Keeping a small grooming kit in your trailer is a huge plus if you have the space for it. You never think you’re going to forget your brushes, but amidst the chaos of it all, things often get left behind. And it’s usually the thing you need the most.
I keep a set of brushes in a wall hanger on my trailer door. These brushes stay in my trailer at all times so I always know they’re there. I bought a set of less-expensive brushes at Tractor Supply for this exact purpose.
Finally, a vet kit. Having a stocked vet kit in your trailer can literally save your trip. You can buy pre-made vet kits at feed stores or put together your own. Always check dates on medications and creams in your kit to make sure nothing is expired, and make sure to check periodically for things that have run out.
And while we’re on the note of doctoring, make sure to keep a human first-aid kit around as well. This can go in your trailer or your car, but don’t forget that you are as important as your horse on this trip. Though we can use some things from a horse vet kit on ourselves, many horse products actually warn that they are not for human use. Keep yourself safe and keep a human first-aid kit on hand for your trip.
These things are just a basic guideline and suggestions for what to keep in a horse trailer. There are no set rules, no set-in-stone checklist to follow. What you take will depend on where you go and the needs of your horse individually.
Did I miss anything? Send me an email and let me know.
Until next time, Happy Trails!