Preparing to stay overnight with your horse

The team of former professional grooms from EquiTeam share their handy tips to make packing to stay away with your horse as stress free as possible.

If you have never stayed away from home with your horse this might be both an exciting, and a daunting prospect, but with some thought, a little organisation and some handy checklists you can easily make sure you have everything you need and you can both relax and enjoy yourselves.

Wherever you are heading, make sure you start by reading all of the information you have been given. 

Camps and training clinic organisers will most likely have sent you a list of things to bring and do’s and don’ts, so take a good look and read everything thoroughly. Most competition venues, or horse holidays will have their own set of detailed instructions to help you.

Organisers will not mind at all if you have questions, but make sure they haven’t already been answered in the information.

Packing Checklist

Write lists

Write yourself lists of everything you need to pack and then check it off as it goes into the car/trailer/lorry. EquiTeam Members can download and print our handy Packing Lists and Checklists to make life even easier!

Before you even start to pack makes sure that things like your horse’s vaccinations are up to date, you have booked the farrier in plenty of time so you don’t risk losing a shoe the week before, and your car/horsebox tax, insurance, MOT and breakdown cover is all well in date and of course your vehicle has got fuel in.

Packing for your horse

You will need to pack all of your horse’s tack for each of the activities you are doing. For example you might have a different bit/bridle if you are doing cross country so take time to plan what you might be doing and what you will need.

Taking a spare head collar is a great idea, along with spare reins if you have them (and of course – don’t forget your neck strap). Make sure your spare headcollar and bridle are accessible – if your headcollar breaks in transit or the worst should happen and your car breaks down you don’t want to be searching through trying to find a headcollar.

Take a moment to think how many times you will be riding your horse (and what the weather forecast is – will they get wet or very sweaty) – do you need spare saddlecloths or boots and what rugs will you need for both stabling and for cooling down?   

In addition to packing your grooming kit it is always a good idea to have a horse (and rider) first aid kit to hand.

Enquire about mucking out equipment. Some yards might provide tools and/or wheelbarrows which might save on space.

Work out how much feed and hay you need to take. If you are going away for a couple of days, measure out each feed into plastic bags or reusable tubs. If you have room to take your hay with you either fill haynets or stuff empty feedbags with the amount you need (plus a bit extra).

Packing haylage into black bin bags will help to keep the moisture in if you are just away for a few days but make sure that you store them somewhere cool and out of sunlight.

Even if automatic drinkers are available, we would advise taking water buckets. Horses will most likely drink from a bucket before they choose an automatic drinker, this way you can also check how much they are drinking. 

A handy tip if your horse knocks their bucket over is to hang them up using double ended clips or short tie ropes (just make sure you clip them to baling twine in case they get caught up).

Take spare string or quick release tie clips with you, so you can safely tie your horse up while you are there. String is also handy to use to hang rugs, boots etc up off the floor, as a washing line or even for a handy makeshift bridle cleaning hook!

Packing for you

Take clothes for every eventuality – the British weather is known to keep us guessing. By rolling your clothes up, you can fit loads more into a bag.  Go for lots of thinner layers (and obviously a few items from the EquiTeam range).

You will most likely get really hot while you are riding so give yourself options with easy to remove layers if you can. Don’t forget your waterproofs and sun cream!

If you are sleeping in your trailer or camping, the one thing you should definitely take is a hot water bottle – even in summer.

If you are using a tent, make sure you know how to put it up, and that you have all of the parts including tent pegs (and something to knock them in with).  If you are planning on sleeping in your trailer check whatever you are sleeping on actually fits in.  Getting hold of an offcut of carpet underlay to put on the floor makes a huge difference to your ‘bedroom’.

Hoodies

Food

Check what the food arrangements are – even if catering is provided, you are probably going to want some of your own snacks – if you are riding a lot you will probably be quite hungry. Healthy, protein filled snacks will give you more energy than chocolate alone. EquiTeam members can download a great Protein Ball recipe from Equestrian Fitness Scotland.

A refillable water bottle and a travel cup are essential to make sure you stay hydrated.

If you are planning on eating out while you are there, find out what time food is available and how you can get there if you need to drive. 

Don't get lost

Before you set off make sure you know where you are going. Check if the organisers have provided an address and directions. Don’t rely on Facebook locations without checking they are correct as they may not be accurate.

It is always a good idea to know roughly what direction you are going in, just in case your satnav has a wobbly.

And finally...

Writing lists will really help to focus you and take some of the pressure off – but if you are nervous, break it down into small achievable steps and remember it is likely that everyone else will be as nervous as you are.

Don’t forget to breathe. Packing should be your first goal, followed by making a plan on how to get there.

Liz, Lou & Liz

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