A Horseback Vacation List
What You Need to Bring
Plus Some Useful Optional Items
This horseback vacation list is a guideline. You'll most often be travelling light but you'll definitely need to bring the necessities for safety, security, and comfort.
Then add those items to help make the trip as fun and interesting as possible. As you plan for the trip, take into account -
1) what you'll be doing,
2) the duration of your trip,
3) where you expect to be eating and sleeping, and
4) anticipated climatic conditions.
If you pack like I do, with "just in case" in mind, you'll likely bring along more than you actually use. To some extent that's OK. Climate is an important consideration and dressing in layers is a good practice.
For short trail rides and hanging around a dude ranch most of what you bring along you'll be wearing - for trips into the wilderness you'll need sleeping gear, protective clothing, and a good book - probably the same for a horse or cattle drive.
You may find a few items in this horseback vacation list not included in most other lists - these items will generally be the "extras" that are nice to have along.
If you're on a horseback trip sponsored by a dude ranch, outfitter, or working ranch they'll usually tell you what you need to bring - otherwise just ask.
If you're going to be out for several days, the high priority is clothing that will keep you warm, dry, and protected (e.g., don't ride through brushy country wearing shorts). I prefer a cowboy hat to a baseball cap, in fact I won't normally get on a horse without my cowboy hat - but that's just me. Just make sure your head, face, neck arms and legs are protected from the elements. Be prepared for extremes in weather.
Here's a basic list -
For those evenings by the campfire when there's a chill in the air, or when heading out on the trail on a brisk morning, a sweatshirt featuring our ranch logo can keep you warm - and looking sharp in the process. Both hooded,non-hooded, men's and women's sizes available in our Gift Shop.
- Hat or Cap
- something that will protect your head, face and neck from the rain and the sun. Wide brimmed hats are best (doesn't have to be a cowboy-style hat - the soft wide-brimmed hats you can fold up and tuck away are great, especially those which are water-resistant). Baseball caps are generally fine for shorter trips and around camp. If your choice is a cap and you don't have a favorite to take along - there's always one of ours. Click here or on the picture for a larger image - or, bring a helmet for riding safety if that's your preference.
- Riding gloves (lined if weather dictates); gloves are a must if you're going to handling rope at all and generally nice to have if you'll be many hours in the saddle.
- Riding boots- with a defined heel for safety's sake. (This is a requirement with many outfits). There are shoes on the market good for both riding and hiking (hiking boots with a heel), great for longer trips - you don't need to bring an extra pair of boots and it can be uncomfortable wearing riding boots all day long.
- Camp shoes or mocassins for when you're not riding or hiking.
- Heavy or denim pants for riding (save the shorts for around camp). I wouldn't even wear shorts on a brief trail ride - your legs should have some protection.
- Long sleeved shirts - a good wool shirt will be more useful than you think. A T-shirt is OK for riding but have a longed-sleeve shirt or windbreaker handy.
- Extra underwear and socks (for longer trips). There are times when you (and the rest of your party) will appreciate a pair of clean, dry socks. Cushioned boot or hiking socks are a better choice than gym socks. In fact, extra socks are really a must. It pays to be kind to your feet, even on horseback!
- Sweater / Jacket (fleece is good - think layers).
- Rain Gear - both tops and pants; the latter is nice if you're going to be riding in the rain. Note: If you bring a large colorful poncho be careful unfolding or shaking it in front of the horses!
- Some outfitters recommend chaps - if so, ask if they can provide them if you don't own a pair.
Gear and Accessories
You won't be needing all of these for short trail rides or if you're staying at a guest ranch and taking day trips only. The list below attempts to cover the basic necessities plus some optional items. Take into account what you plan to be doing and then select from the list what to bring along.
- Sunglasses, flashlight, sunscreen, lip balm(You may encounter windy conditions which can be tough on the skin and lips as much as sun), bug juice and toiletries - including some toilet tissues.
- Sleeping bag and Pad (I like the self-inflating type).
- A first aid kit - unless supplied by the host. A small one for personal use is never a bad idea. Stick in a book of matches. If you happen to be taking your own horse you might want to put together a kit for the horse click here for a list of items.
- Optional items include Small camera, binoculars, Pen or pencil and notepad or journal (if you like to take notes). A Bird or Flower Book can be nice to have along on longer trips and trips into the wilderness.
- A pocket knife may come in handy - an all-in-one tool is even better.
- A form of identification is probably a good idea. If you get lost it might not do you any good but in case something bad happens it might help things go more smoothly.
- A good book (or two) - something that will last for a couple of days at least. Otherwise your reading material may be a few pages from a 4-week old newspaper. No, it doesn't have to be a horse book.
- Leather laces or nylon for tack repair if you're bringing your own horse.
- If on an organized ride chances are you won't get lost but it never hurts to bring along a compass or GPI (and map if you can get one).
- Water bottle - unbreakable type.
- Leave the cell phone at home!! - or at least in your car.
Again, for day trips or if you'll be staying around the ranch you won't need all the above, but for trips into the wilderness and for horse and cattle drives you'll probably want to bring along most items in this horseback vacation list.
And finally -
Enjoy Your Trip!
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