Wet Saddle Blankets by Bonnie Davis Is YourHorse a CHappyamper? H
ere are some tips for making your horse a happy camper while you’re on an overnight outing.
Feed Never change your horse’s feed when you’re out camping. Feed him what he gets at home. If weed-free hay is required where you’re going, start the feed change gradually at home. If you’ll be using a hay net on your trip, get your horse used to eating out of one back home.
During the trip, have plenty of feed on hand. If feeding on the ground, place the feed in the center of the corral, where your horse won’t push it out under the rails.
If you feed your horse grain, before the trip, measure out individual servings into brown paper bags—it’s easier to pack paper bags than a 50-pound sack! Use the empty bags to start a campfire at night. Never put grain in plastic bags, which draw moisture and can spoil the grain. The last thing you want on a camping trip is a horse with a case of colic.
Water Keep water in front of the horse. Bring your own buckets and tubs. A shared water trough or drinking source is a good place for your horse to pick up a cold or flu.If your horse is not used to drinking from a bucket, have him practice at home.
If your horse doesn’t want to drink, don’t worry. He likely will. I’ve yet to hear of a horse that’s died of thirst because he wouldn’t drink. But if you do become concerned about his water intake, you can add a water supplement to his water to make it sweeter. You can also add a small can of apple juice or carrot juice to the water—or some frozen carrots or apple slices. Another way is to dunk his hay into water before feeding it to him, because he’ll get moisture from the hay.
Horse blankets Regardless of the weather, take a horse blanket for your horse. I’ve
camped in July, where the weather dropped to 34 degrees Fahrenheit and there was two inches of snow on the ground. Bring a winter blanket that’s heavy duty and waterproof, and bring a lighter blanket and sheet.
Medications If a horse is on meds, bring them—all of them—on your trip. If it’s a pill or powder, you can mix it in with your horse’s grain in the brown paper bag. When feeding your horse a powdered medication mixed into the grain, pour it into a feed bucket and then stir in about a half of a cup of water to the mixture, so the powdered medication will stick to the grain. If it’s a liquid medication, simply mix it into the grain when you feed it to your horse.
Settling in It’s common for a horse to be nervous when camping (on your first trip, you’ll likely be nervous too!). But a sure-fire way to tell when your horse is a happy camper is when he finds a spot in the corral and lies down. If the corral ground is damp, you can give him that “home feeling” by spreading around some shavings—which, unlike straw, will break down and blend in with the environment. He’ll probably sniff the shaving, do a little rearranging with a hoof, and then settle down to rest. You’ll know he’s a happy camper!
About the author Bonnie Davis has been trail-riding and camping for more than 40 years and shares her expertise at clinics and presentations. She’s also a writer and owns Two Horse Enterprises, an internet business. Visit www.extendinc.com/twohorse
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Read Bonnie’s Blog: Hoof Prints & Camp Smoke
Bonnie’s 2012 EVENT SCHEDULE: (check the web site for updates) February 2-4
Horse Expo Pomona - Fairplex Pomona
March 30-April 1 Backcountry Horsemen of California Rendezvous Tehama County Fairgrounds, Red Bluff CA.
June 8-10 Western States Horse Expo- Sacramento
B o n n i e D a v i s - Own e r P.O. B o x 6 0 8 P l e a s a n t o n , C A 9 4 5 6 6 5 1 0 . 2 9 9 . 5 2 1 5 h o r s e c amp i n g@c omc a s t . n e t
Honest Horses Magazine | March-April 2012 7
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