Today’s blog post comes to us from our good friends at Equitrekking. They have given a rundown on what to pack when you go on those awesome horsey vacations. Since cold weather and winter are upon us, daydreaming about vacations is what we all want to do! For more information check out Equitrekking.com!
After traveling to horseback ride in destinations as close to home as Virginia and Vermont and as far away as Botswana and Jordan, I’ve gotten a lot of experience in packing. Wherever you’re headed to horseback ride, whether it’s a dude ranch, cattle drive, training stable or equestrian vacation outside the USA, here are some items to consider bringing along.
Whatever you are wearing to ride at home just may work for your riding vacation. I’ve seen many English-style riders in their breeches and paddock boots riding alongside cowboys at ranches and even rode in my English attire riding with the Bedouin in Jordan. Always check with the destination where you’re traveling to see what they suggest for riding gear to help you plan ahead.
If you’re excited to dress up in the latest equestrian fashions and look like the locals, get cowboy boots for Western style riding at American ranches or paddock boots with half chaps for English style excursions in Ireland or beyond.
Bring your tall boots if you’re traveling to train or fox hunt, but if it’s a trail riding destination, consider packing paddock boots or all-terrain riding boots with half chaps. These fit more easily into your suitcase and you can wear them riding or for other activities like hiking. If you’re traveling to a tropical, hot or wet locale, consider packing waterproof all-terrain boots. I’ve worn these in Costa Rica’s rainforest and the largest inland delta in the world in Africa and was glad to have them!
A riding vacation is not the time to break in new boots or chaps! Make sure to wear whatever you’re bringing during your riding at home and that they fit comfortably before you take off on your riding adventure.
If you’re riding in jeans, look for a pair that has some stretch. Riding is an active endeavor, and you’ll need your jeans to give a bit as you climb in and out of the saddle. Also, try to find jeans with a flat inseam (the seam that runs down the inside of the leg), so that you don’t get a rub. If you are headed to Ireland or another destination where they ride English style, you may want to bring riding tights or traditional breeches.
For long days in the saddle, wear gloves or bring some with you in your daypack, pocket or saddlebag. Gloves help you grip the reins and also help save your hands if you have a horse that tries to eat along the trail while you are holding onto the reins.
I like to bring my own helmet with me on my travels, as that fits me best and will likely be the same for you. If you are riding a long distance or in warmer temperatures, consider bringing a lightweight, vented helmet and always make sure it’s certified and approved.
When braving the great outdoors, you never know what the weather will do. Consider strapping a rain jacket to your saddle, preferably a raincoat made of fabric that is not too noisy, as you don’t want your raincoat to spook your horse. Waxed jackets work well, especially in cooler climates. In some destinations, like mountain rides in Alberta or treks in Iceland, you might want to consider waterproof pants or a long raincoat. When the sun takes a break and the clouds gush open, you’ll be glad to be dry, especially if you are out for more than just the day.
Warm or Cool Layers
For cooler weather rides, layers of fleece or wool will keep you cozy. Even on a warm day, it’s a good idea to bring a lightweight long-sleeved shirt to protect your arms from the sun or in case the weather takes a turn. I like to wear sweaters and fleece jackets that zip or button, so that I can shed them quickly during the day and then also put them back on easily.
Sunscreen and Lip Balm
If you are going to be active outside, pack and/or lather on sunscreen and lip balm with SPF. Get sweat proof sunscreen if you can. Nothing’s worse at the end of a day’s ride than finding out that you look like a tomato. Plus, the lip balm will keep your lips from getting too dry.
A bandana or scarf can have a multitude of uses. I like to tie one around my neck for protection from the sun, but cowboys of old also used bandanas on cattle drives, as pot holders when cooking, to cover their mouths so that their lungs didn’t fill with dust on the trails, or even to tie over a wound or to repair something.
I usually bring one just in case. They’re small, so easy to stuff somewhere in your suitcase. You may end up wanting to take a dip in a place you didn’t even imagine would be good for swimming like Iceland. Those hot spots do wonders after a day on the trail.
Passport, Important Documents and Copies
If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll want to bring your passport, along with photocopies, just in case your passport is lost or stolen. Photocopies (packed and carried separately from the original) can help you get a replacement more easily. A few extra passport sized photos of yourself don’t hurt either. Of course, you’ll want to bring any tickets for flights and confirmations for rental cars, etc., along with your license or ID.
If you get hungry frequently like me, consider stashing some granola or power bars in your travel bag. You may not use them, but if you get hungry or don’t love the local food, you’ll be glad that you have them.
Earplugs or Headphones
I usually travel with headphones in case the flight is noisy and I want to get some sleep or I’m camping or sleeping somewhere in which the noises bother me. You’re on the road, so there are bound to be different sounds than you’re used to at home. (Also, I like to listen to music on my travels.) Putting some small foam earplugs or headphones in your bag are a good idea.
I have a few in my pockets when riding and in my travel bag just in case. There isn’t always toilet paper on the trails.
First Aid Kit
Bring any medicines, contact lenses or solutions, or prescriptions you might want or need. It might not be easy to hit the drug store or pharmacy on your riding adventure, as many trips are in remote locations.
I usually stuff a few extra plastic bags in my suitcase for separating dirty laundry, muddy shoes and more from my other clothes. Also, if you are packing shampoo, liquid soap or anything like that, you might want to zip it in a zip lock in case it decides to explode on your flight or it’s something you want to bring through customs. If you’re planning on bringing back more from your trip than you left with, consider packing an extra bag in your suitcase.
Depending on where you are going, you’ll want to consider bringing this along. I usually pack wipes coated with insect repellant into my travel bag just in case. They are small and sometimes come in handy.
You may want these, especially if you are showering in the great outdoors or somewhere that you’d just feel more comfortable wearing shoes.
Your vacation will probably fly by too quickly. If you are like me and want to remember the details, pack a journal. It can be relaxing to sit in the afternoon or early evening with some snacks and maybe hot tea or hot chocolate and write and reflect on your adventures.
I like to pack travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and usually bring a small bar of soap, just in case I need it. Also consider hand sanitizer and face wipes. These two items can make you feel refreshed on long flights, camping trips or travels to far away places.
Travel Alarm Clock
I have a small fold up alarm clock that is great for travel.
Pack a small flashlight. Remember, if you’re on a riding vacation, you might be either camping or staying in a remote area, like a ranch, where the only lights at night are the stars. This is nice, but you’ll want a flashlight for getting back to your tent or cabin at night. I’ve tried the light on my phone when navigating to a tent, and trust me a flashlight is better, especially when battery power or electricity is scarce.
You’ll want to document your trip to share with friends and family back home. If you’re not bringing a phone with a camera, pack a small camera to capture the memories.
Adapters and Converters
If you’re traveling abroad, find out what type of electrical plugs or convertors you’ll need to charge personal items.
Remember, riding is a sport, so this is an item female riders don’t want to forget, especially if you’re planning on riding and doing other sports on your travels.
Quick Dry Items
New technology in materials has brought us quick dry and wicking socks and underwear. These are great for sports and travel, as you can wash them yourself and they dry quickly, allowing you to re-wear them and stay dryer on your own travels.
If you’re taking a trail riding vacations, there are other safety items that you want to make sure your riding guide or someone in your group brings along: a mobile phone, hoof pick, tools in case you have to take off a horse’s shoe or take out big rock, matches, a compass and first aid kit. Again, professional tour operators and riding guides will make this a habit, but it never hurts to ask before you venture out.
Check with your tour company or the establishment where you are headed for packing suggestions. The tour leaders know their area best and can advise you on the necessities that will make your time there most comfortable. They may also have items that you can borrow once you’re there and laundry facilities, so you can pack less. This can save you having to bring something large or heavy in your suitcase.
Remember to pack lightly and smartly. Keep it simple and practical and you’ll find happier and longer trails ahead!
About the Author: Darley Newman explores the world on horseback as the host and producer of the Emmy-winning PBS TV series, Equitrekking. Watch videos, check out photos and learn about where you can horseback ride and take ranch and riding vacations on Equitrekking.com and Top20Ranches.com.