Research your Backcountry Horse Trips pt. II

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Research your Backcountry Horse Trips pt. II 

 

Part II in our series on trail riding - with the new "Normal" we had to tweak some of our recommendations.

 

More points to consider when planning that trail ride away from civilization, and keeping our distance:

 

-Water: The elixir of life. Needed info for so many reasons. Watering the horses (and yourself), understanding where water crossings occur (and how deep/swift they are), and planning camping spots that will make your life easier.

 

-Grazing areas for the horses. Figuring out feed on longer trips can be the main logistics bottleneck. If it’s available, grazing areas makes everything easier, and you can plan your camping spots around them. Without grazing areas, you’ll need to carry feed. The more horses you have = more feed needed = more horses to carry the feed = more feed needed. It’s a bad logic loop. I love coming across trail descriptions that describe large meadows. Hallelujah.

 

-Current trail conditions: Even the perfect horse trail can be unsafe if current conditions aren’t right. High altitude areas may still have snow into July in some higher elevations. Downed trees and swollen rivers can also ruin a trip. Facebook trail groups, and Park rangers/forest service and other agency folks often have up to date information.

 

-Who owns the land you’re riding on? State/federal agencies, non-profits, state/municipality, and private landowners may have different rules/restrictions (like no stock April-June). They may also have up to date trail/route conditions.

 

-Distances/projected hours between sections of trail. Besides total length, knowing the mileage of different lengths of the trail can help you make realistic day-by-day plans. My favorite Google Earth tool is the “Ruler” which measures distances.

 

-Camping spots/cabins etc. Where are you and the horses going to sleep? Man, if I can find a spot near a meadow and a stream about 10-15 miles in, I’m in heaven. Some National Forests/Parks have cabins you can rent so plan early if you want to snag one of those (check recreation.gov for cabins), some even have areas for horses!

 

-Containment options: Trail research can really help you decide which stock containment options will work. Scrubby brushy areas are hard for portable fencing, and you can’t really picket in a hummock-y area. All good to know ahead of time.

 

-Trail opening/closures. Yep, that wonderful amazing trail you were planning could be closed for a multitude of reasons. Check with the land agency and on local trail condition pages to see any updates.

 

We welcome your ideas and suggestions for the perfect trail ride -

 

To be continued...

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