No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill

Packing Essentials for the Trail

You and your trail riding buddies head down the trail. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and you are anticipating a great ride. As the day wears on, seemingly out of nowhere you hear a clap of thunder, and quickly cover your eyes from the blinding light. You know that the Storm is closing in very quickly, however you are 5 long rugged miles from civilization. You have noticed your friend's horse has a slight limp and suddenly a whole myriad of thoughts cloud your mind..."Do we all have rain gear? Should we continue with the limping horse? Can we make it back without harming the horse or getting struck by lightning? What is the best option?"

Many experienced seasoned trail riders will tell you, that being prepared out on the trail is very important. Those who have spent hours in the saddle out in mother nature know all to well that circumstance doesn't always come in the form we plan. More often they come completely unplanned. There are many obstacles that can come about while away from camp. Weather can change in the blink of an eye, your horse's health can change at any given moment, you can become lost, and even you or one of your parties health can be compromised. None of us like to think about these incidents, but we should always come as the tried and true boyscout vows; prepared for anything. The following is a list of things I deem very important and helpful in packing in your saddle bags:

1. Water-it is very important to stay hydrated, and though we sometimes don't plan on being out long, we sometimes find we are there longer. Water can also be used to clean a wound. It's not very wise to clean a wound with dirty water.
2. Snacks-again comfort is the main reason, but also for unplanned long outings. Granola bars, nuts, cheese, chips or pretzels, boiled eggs, Uncrustables, jerky, and crackers are a few of my favorites.
3. Mace-I know this sounds a bit strange, but you just never know what you might come across when you are out. Wild animals and dogs are usually what have been encountered on my rides, however I have had people pop up beside me unbeknown to me without warning. We all know that you can never be too safe.
4. Sunscreen-it is very wise to grease up. Even while in the woods you can receive a nasty smack from Mr. Sun! If you have a horse with pink skin it can help him as well.
5. Insect repellent-Ticks and mosquitoes are prevalent out on the trail and make your ride miserable if you can not abate them.
6. Shoe strings and hair ties-these can be used for many reasons. Repair a faulty piece of tack, tie back hair, or even tie something to a saddle or make a temporary bandage adhesive.
7. Old fashioned handkerchief-there is a great reason why all cowboys wore them back in western times. They can be used for a washcloth, Kleenex, to cool your neck, bandage, and even to package something up.
8. Matches or a lighter-you never know when you might want or need to build a fire! I prefer a lighter or waterproof matches. A small piece of fire starter isn't necessary, but loved in a pinch.
9. Rain gear-be sure to purchase a good set. Nothing is more miserable than being in a sudden down pour and getting wet even after putting on your gear. The long trail blazers are nice, but having rain pants too is very helpful. I recommend a set made of rubber, not the usual trail blazer jackets you see most with. They look cool, but they get wet in a real down pour!
10. Safety pins-never know what might be fixed with just a pin.
11. Band aids and small first aid kit.
12. lip balm. Preferably with SPF.
13.Whistle-in case you need to call for help or ward off a wild animal.
14. Flash light.
15. Duct tape-it can fix a lot of things! Even tape on a loose horseshoe.

I am sure there are other things that might be fitting to take, but these are a few of the items I pack often in my saddlebags while out for the day on the trail. Plus one of my musts is always my handy dandy camera. You just never know what sites you will see that you might want to record for later memory!

Happy Trails!

He leadeth me beside the still waters.Psalms 23

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