Designated equine camps are the perfect vacation destination for the equine owning family. Horse camps make camping with horses easy for the whole family. Horse campgrounds are just like regular campgrounds, only better…because they are loaded with horseback riding trails!
Some horse campsites are very primitive, while others offer modern convinces like flush toilets and coin-op showers. You’ll want to find out what the horse campgrounds accommodations are beforehand so you’ll be prepared.
A very primitive horse campsite will offer nothing more than a pit toilet, a water source and a place to park your rig. This is more what you’d expect to find at a wilderness trail head. These are commonly nothing more than a launching pad for pack trips with pack animals, usually no reservations are needed. It’s a first come first serve situation.
Many National Forest’s offer proper equine camps with corals, hitching posts, water troughs, picnic tables, BBQ pits, bear boxes and a camp host…all the stuff you’d expect to find at a regular campground. Some of them are even set up to accommodate large groups, like horse clubs. These horse camps will charge different fees for day use, overnight camping and group reservations.
It is highly recommended that you make reservations to reserve your spot at one of these equine camps. Some parks will have campsites that don’t include a corral for your horses. Make a point to find out and ask for a camp with a corral. Otherwise you’ll be stuck tying your horses to your trailer all night.
At our local Cuneo Creek horse park, it can get very hot in the summer. I discovered that you can request a campsite sheltered by shade trees. Yay! It never hurts to ask about shady horse camps while you’re making reservations. The guy on the phone was more than happy to help me find that perfect spot and was full of information about trail maps and such.
Many National parks will have rules about guns and dogs ….#*!bleep*%#....which personally I find maddening!!!
I always take my dog trail riding with me. My dog is the eyes and ears that I can’t be. She is my first line of defense against bears, mountain lions and pedestrians of questionable character!
Unfortunately California has leash laws that often don’t allow dogs on state park trails. Usually they will allow dogs in camp if they are on a leash at all times. Stupid, I know. Which brings me to my next point. Bears.
The last time we went camping at Cuneo Creek horse park, the camp was harassed all night by a very aggressive bear. My daughter wouldn't stop screaming when the bear showed up 3 feet from my husband’s head. Luckily we were sleeping in the back of the horse trailer that night. She calmed down when we shut the door. We never told her it couldn't be latched from the inside!
That particular weekend just happened to be the same weekend the Redwood Endurance Riders Association was holding their annual 25 and 50 mile endurance ride at the Cuneo Creek horse park. I have never seen the park so jam packed with Arabians. That bear had those poor horses beside themselves all night long…and just before a big race too. Hardly anyone in the camp got a wink of sleep that night. What a shame.
Had campers been able to turn their dogs loose, the bear would have been run off in short order. Instead the bears are allowed to do as they please and grow bolder over time…..bring bear spray, because guns are not allowed either.
Speaking of sleeping in horse trailers… the fist time we did it, our friends laughed at us and called us Okies. Well, it is true that I may be country to the bone, but they weren't laughing when they woke up in water logged sleeping bags. Personally I prefer dry sleeping bags and hot coffee. And it’s nice to be able to stand up to put my pants on…and lock the bears out too.
The nice thing about camping at designated horse parks is that there is plenty of room for tents, campers and motor homes too….to each their own I say.
Whether you have access to a horse corral or end up tying your horses to the trailer at night, you'll want to bring a hay net for your horses. I also recommend bringing water and grain buckets. Many parks have water troughs, which I have let the horses use on occasion, but it is nice to have water available in your horses corral.
Some horses get nervous or excited and won’t settle down to drink at a trough, which is often some distance from your campsite. They are so distracted by all the new horses in nearby camps that they just don’t drink. This can be very frustrating. Having a water bucket available for your horse in the quiet hours can solve this problem.
Feeding your horse off the ground and using your own water buckets will cut down on the chances of your horse picking up contagious diseases. Make sure your horse is up to date on their vaccines.
Check with your local chamber of commerce to find equine camps in your area. Horse camps will be found at National and State parks. Many day use horseback riding trails can be found at the county and city levels as well. The chamber of commerce is a great place to get trail maps and find out about parking accommodations for trucks and trailers for local day use trails too.
When you know what to expect and you are prepared for camping with your horse, it’s nothing but fun! Equine camps offer plenty of horseback riding trails for the horsemen in the family; and many have hiking and fishing for the non- riders to enjoy…. And everyone looks forward to campfires, slow cooked steaks and smore’s in the evening. It’s a great time for the whole family.