Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Word on Horse Camping

For many of us, the word "camping" elicits sweet memories of family time during our childhoods. Growing up, my family didn't do a lot of camping and if we did, it involved a Winnebago. Most of my summers growing up weren't spent camping at all, but instead, playing in the sandy beaches of the Atlantic, , catching mussles on the piers, and having lobster races. I spent a lot of my summers at my cousins beach cottage in CT. So, camping wasn't something I was really into growing up. As I grew older , went to high school and college, I did get introduced to camping, which usually involved loud music , boating, and generally a good time with friends. Since, I have done several horse camping trips with my husband over the years with a wall tent as well. Yeah, it was fun but to be perfectly honest, I really don't enjoy '"roughing " it. That said I do love endurance riding and camping kind of goes with the territory and when you don't have a LQ horse trailer, one must get creative in order to be comfortable.

In just over 2 and 1/2 weeks, I plan to compete in the July Thompson River endurance ride with Maggie (her first!) and I will be camping for 3 nights and 3 days. I have already started the process of pulling out my camping equipment (how does someone who doesn't camp alot acquire all this crap!) to see what I have , what I need, etc because I plan to make a few updates to the horse camp "set up" this year.

Let's begin with the sleeping arrangements;

Old approach; On the previous rides I have done, I have usually packed along a one man Eureka tent. After getting soaked all three times I have used it, it was time to rethink things.

New Approach: A cot in the back of the horse trailer with a tarp to keep the weather out(its a open stock trailer). I could also possibly throw an airbed into the bulkhead of the horse trailer like Tom and I usually do on our combined trips but it's awkward getting up and down from it, especially in a hurry.

Either way, beats sleeping on the ground.

Cooking/Kitchen Arrangement:

Old approach: I didn't really have one come to think of it, other than packing the coleman stove, the tub of miscellaneous camping utensils, and setting it all up on a camp table. Not very organized or user friendly.

New approach; Take the coleman camp stove and set up the Cabella's camp Kitchen, which, has never ever been taken out of the box since we received it as a gift 3 years ago for the husband's hunting camp collection. This little unit should solve alot of organization and dish washing issues.

Bathroom /showering Arrangement:

Old Approach: wash up with cold water or dive into whatever frigid body of water happened to be nearby, or last resort, just go without a shower.

New Approach (this is my favorite!) I will not go without this time. There will be portable bathrooms of course at the ride camp but my main concern was a place to clean up a bit. After riding all day, I am going to want a shower because no matter how hard I try to stay clean I am usually the one covered in sweat, dirt , leaves and branches sticking out of my helmet you name it. I have always envied those endurance riders that finish a ride looking as clean and refreshed as when they started. I have no idea how they do it but I am not one of them! So I must have a way to shower up, otherwise, I get very cranky when I have to remain covered in sweaty horse grime for any length of time. To help resolve this issue I purchased a shower/utility room tent, along with a couple of solar shower bags. Warning: I am about to dive into personal material here .... Ever had to change clothes in the cab of a truck? You know, the contorting of your body in order to pull off those sweaty breeches only to become more sweat soaked in the process because the cab of the truck is about 120 degrees from sitting in the sun for two days? You know what I am talking about. This little shower tent will solve that issue and give me a cooler place to change clothes , with privacy, and never having to worry about ducking down out of sight onto the floorboard of your truck to avoid the person that just happens to be walking by at the very moment you are indisposed.. yep, all the comforts of home.. well almost....right? (at least until I can win the lotto and buy a LQ horse trailer!)

A Place to Relax arrangement:

Old approach; Plop a camp chair down in a grassy spot with out horse manure, under a tree if you can find one. If not, pull on a ball cap, shades and squint and sweat while chit chatting and relaxing (relatively speaking here).

New Approach: Since they say that one of the most important things about camping is being able to relax, I clearly has some room for improvement here. I don't really ever recall being totally able to relax on any of my camping excursions. If I am not worried about the grizzlies (husband camp trips) or a moose coming into camp, I was worried about the horses. This trip, while we have run into Grizzly bears and moose while marking trails, I doubt they are going to be anywhere near where ride camp will be. So , I decided what my camp needed was "atmosphere". I am adding a temporary awning to the trailer. Basically I will attach a tarp to the opposite side of the trailer, run it up and over the top of the trailer and then straight out. Using two tent poles, that end that comes out will come down at a bit of an downward angle (like a real awning) and be staked to the ground. It will provide my shady area and the tarp will help keep the weather out from the inside of the trailer, where I will be sleeping.

So that's it. With these few changes and upgrades, It should be just like home , right??? or at least a step closer than I was!

So, since I have to believe I am not the only endurance rider out there that doesn't have a LQ horse trailer and doesn't really enjoy camping, I wanna hear about your camp , how you make things more comfortable ...what are your must have's and things you are willing to go without?


Tammy Vasa said...

First, I never camped as a kid. Stayed in the car or on a boat at those lake parties, but no memories of camping w/family. After we had kids, we tried camping. B-O-R-I-N-G. If you don't have a boat, what the heck do you do?

Then came horses. I truly never envisioned riding anywhere but on our farm, but a whole new world opened up to me. Yes, we tried the tent thing the first year. And the first weeklong trip we took, we did what you did. Cot in the back of the trailer. Add a body pillow to the cot - it helps make it less uncomfortable. But eventually we moved up to a LQ.

As far as food goes, I don't want to spend my whole time cooking at camp. I want to ride. So I pre-cook before we leave. Soups, sloppy joes - even pasta. And then just warm up on the coleman. We are getting ready to leave on a 10 day camp trip & its going to take some prep, but again, I'm not preparing food while on vacation. Its warm up & go.

We have an awning on our trailer but its a PITA and if there is the slightest breeze, we worry. I ended up buying a portable awning at WalMart $79 and use it. It moves with the sun, so very handy.

Its probably different camping at endurance rides than for pleasure. When we camp, its social with our close circle of horse friends. I can see where it is a means to do the endurance and not as much fun if you don't have a hankering for it. But sounds like you are making the most of it & have done a great job thinking thru your accomodations.

PS: I do keep a Luggable Loo (google it) in the back of my trailer so I don't have to stumble to the bathrooms in the middle of the night.

cheyenne jones said...

What is an LQ trailer? I often camp with the horse, coral her and sleep on a camp bed in her trailer.

Showers? After three or four days camping, if there wasnt a river nearby, I`m afraid it wait till I get home!

Jonna said...

@ Tammy-I whole heartedly agree, I don't want to cook while camping so I will be doing alot of prep work!Have fun on your 10 day camp trip. lol! I have the luggable loo as well, just didn't mention it.. I love that thing!

@Cheyenne- LQ just means Living quarters. You are tougher than me on the showers!

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for you Jonna!! I hope you guys have a wonderful time and get everything ironed out for Pink Flamingo!!

~ Amanda

Mel said...

OK - I'm totally stealing this idea for a post, since my comment regarding this is going to be WAY too long....I'll link you!

Jonna said...

@ Mel- steal away.. can't wait to read about it... btw- your post on your cat had me in stitches. I think I have your cat's brother...obnoxous little thing that he is... won't leave me alone!!