A group of local riders recently enjoyed an overnight trail ride adventure to the American Canyon Camp in the
Total daily ride time, both days, was five and a half hours which included stopping to rest and letting the horses graze.
How does one plan for an overnight trail ride excursion?
First of all, this group of adventure riders had a little help from the Pacific Coast Long Riders who traditionally plan a horse camp trip at American Canyon camp ground each year in the spring. Pacific Coast Longriders get special permission to use the camp, as usually it is only open for about a month during deer season. Our group of adventure riders joined the PCL group at the camp but this year they took on the challenge of riding 23 miles out to the established camp area, horse camping overnight with them, then riding the same trek back over one epic weekend. Chris Olsen was among the group of adventure riders. He did the 46 mile round trip trail ride with three other riders.
Chris is an experienced horse camper and willingly took on the trail trek challenge.
“I went on this adventure because it sounded challenging and would provide a feeling of accomplishment when the 46 mile ride was completed!” Chris expressed.
How does one prepare for such an adventure?
First, your horse obviously must be ready to ride many miles, just like a cross country athlete. Chris explains, “Your horse needs to be in condition before a big ride like this. Weekly trail rides to get your horse in shape is a must in order to prep for such a long trek.”
The horses were also groomed with the trek in mind, “The horses were bathed before the ride so they would be sweating cleanly and we rounded their hooves since our horses did it barefoot!” describes Chris. In addition, the horse’s feed and supplements were increased the week before the trip, because they will loose some weight.
A few days before, the supplemental feed is packed, along with tree savers, rope and swivel hook gear for high-tying the horses at night, plus water needs are considered. Chris describes the camp stabling and feed, “Horses were high-tied between two trees in the grassy field and had plenty of grass to snack on all night. There is a huge water trough for cattle that we led them to several times once we arrived and during our stay there.” A muzzle feed bag is used for providing supplement feed to the horses.
How does the rider prepare?
Chris explains how he provided for his needs, “As the rider I had two water bottles and enough food to hold me over until dinner in my saddle bag.” The riders did have some help through another camper who took overnight gear to the camp area for them. The Pacific Coast Longriders charged every camper $25 for the weekend and supplied the meat for the group BBQ. “Our tents, sleeping pads, food and grain for the horses were sent with fellow camper Kathleen Phelps who drove to the camp for the weekend. The 23 mile trek riders rode into camp, set up their tents and joined the others for dinner. The next day they rode back to the start point at a friend’s ranch in Ranchita Estates.
Are you thinking of riding to the American Canyon too?
Your first step in taking on an adventure like this would be to join up with a group like the Pacific Coast Longriders (PCL does not have a website. It simply consists of a group of like-minded trail riding enthusiasts with not a lot of structure!) or Back Country Horsemen of California. You’ll be introduced to many knowledgeable and experienced adventure riders who can help you with your plans. PCL gets special permission to camp in the spring from Avenales Ranch.
Next make sure you know what you are doing and don’t do it alone. Beverly Poorman knows the trails in the
If you want to horse camp at the
As these riders can attest, stepping back in time, living off the land and what you carry gives one a true sense of adventure, accomplishment and connection to your horse and fellow riders. Some of us will simply live vicariously through them and some of us will be inspired to share in the experience.