We love our horses and mules. We love trail riding and we love being outdoors. What could be better? Camping.
While there’s certainly something to be said for crashing on the couch and binge-watching British costume dramas, visiting a horse camp and living outdoors for a few days with our animals just an arm’s length away is much more appealing. Horse camping is a way to be adventurous, make memories of a lifetime, and spend quality time with impressive people. Here’s six more reasons to try it this year!
- It’s Healthy
Camping does a body good. Nearly every aspect of camping provides health benefits like being more active, getting more natural light, fresh air, mental health, and more. Research shows that time spent outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion, and give your immune system an extra boost. When you spend a few days outside, you’ll get some serious health benefits.
- It’s Tradition
Horse camping is an activity steeped in history and tradition. Images of cowboys warming themselves by the campfire after a long day on the trail create powerful urges within us to go out and recreate those scenes. When we’re in a horse camp I like to think of the people who decades ago decided that this spot would be perfect for camping with stock. And then built it.
- It’s Immersion in Nature
Any type of equine camping, whether it’s a tent deep in the backcountry or parking the LQ at a guest ranch is an enveloping experience. You’ll see wildlife in their natural settings, you’ll enjoy million-dollar views from your tent or trailer door. And you’ll feel the sun on your face (as well as the rain and the wind!). The stars—oh my, the celestial bodies that you’ll view on a dark night. The sounds—from the soft crunch of the ponies contentedly chewing hay to the yips of the coyotes in the distance, and the trills of songbirds flitting through camp. Oh, the adventures in nature you’ll experience!
- It’ll Put You in a Good Mood
Researchers have linked outdoor activities to a decrease in depressive thoughts. That feeling of happiness you get when you take your first breath of air at the campground comes from the burst of serotonin the extra oxygen of the outdoors provides. Sleeping under the stars also helps you get in touch with your natural circadian rhythms, a foundation for high quality sleep and health.
- It’s a Digital Detox
Sometimes you just need a break from technology. It might be hard to escape it at home, but most parks and campgrounds have poor, or no cell connections. Horse camps are perfect places to put down the high-tech devices in our lives and focus on the basics. Sit back and relax with a good book, write in a journal, or just enjoy watching the horses graze. Use this digital downtime as a way to connect with nature and reconnect with each other. Time without electronic distractions forces you to connect with others and with yourself, which is a pretty amazing experience.
- It’s New Challenges and Life Skills
No two camping trips are exactly the same, and that’s good. A University of Michigan study shows that new experiences help keep brains healthy. New activities that are both physically and intellectually stimulating have the greatest effect on brain health, and horse camping fits both of these criteria. Camping also makes you rely on yourself to meet your basic needs: purifying water, making a fire, etc. Being able to build these skills gives you confidence and self-worth that carries over into all other aspects of your life. It just takes a little effort and guidance, and you’ll be setting up tents in no time!
Planning a horse camping trip is one of the pleasures of the trip. From choosing the right places to visit to figuring what you’ll do when you get there, you’ll learn a lot throughout the process. Here’s a start for you — www.TrailMeister.com — the largest guide to horse camps in the U.S. Just pick a state then start looking through all of the camps and their amenities and features for you to enjoy.
Robert Eversole, ”the trail meister,” owns www.TrailMeister.com, the largest database of horse riding and camping areas in the U.S. with free trail and trailhead information, trail maps, and much more to help horse enthusiasts experience the joys of trail riding. Robert is a registered riding instructor with PATH International, a mounted search and rescue team member, and a U.S. Marine who has served on the board of the Backcountry Horsemen of Washington (BCHW). He is enjoying his new career helping fellow trail riders stay found and safe on the trail. When not on the trail, The Trail Meister resides near Spokane, WA and teaches land navigation to a wide variety of outdoor groups across the nation. For North America’s largest horse trail and camping directory, trail tips, and more, visit www.TrailMeister.com.