PLANNING
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Before any adventure can begin, careful planning and consideration is crucial. Good planning can minimise the risk of things going wrong, help prepare for the 'just in case' and make your experience more enjoyable.

Once you have determined where you wish to travel there are some critical elements to consider:

1. Is horse travel possible:

A draft plan (map) of where you wish to travel is important. The route may change as further enquiries determine the routes viability. Even travelling on an established trail such as the 'Tasmanian Trail' may experience issues where rerouting is required due to e.g. land disputes, fallen trees, bush fire emergencies. Keeping up to date on the organisations website is good practice.

Getting to your proposed starting point may be a logistical & financial challenge. For example, crossing the Bass Strait to Tasmania can be expensive. Horse transport and lodging are two areas which will increase those costs but must be factored into your budget.

If you are blazing your own trail, then there is much more to consider:

Conservation, National Parks & World Heritage sites have restrictions and will in most instances will not allow horses to travel through unless an 'established' horse trail exists and a a permit is obtained.

Although a confident horse & its rider can navigate along a road, traffic laws may differ from state to state. With regard to roads, horses are considered a 'vehicle' so riders must abide all road rules and regulations. Research is advised to ensure you are aware of any state traffic requirements as the onus of responsibility is on you.

2. Seasonal considerations

This is an area that can have a significant impact on the success of the journey if not researched and planned for. Exposure to heat/cold, water availability, feed availability, accessibility issues due to flood/environmental disasters as well as tick and insect borne diseases are just some of the major considerations. Ensure you have researched the area you intend to venture into, e.g. historical regional weather records. The effort you put into your planning will be the measure of your journeys success.

3. Solo, Group or Support Crew

How you trail ride comes down to a personal choice and the reason for you wanting the experience. This may depend on level of experience, trail you will ride, need for company or even the need for solitude, either way you will have many things to consider.

  • Solo Travel:

    • Travelling solo requires much more careful planning as you will be carrying only the bare essentials to keep weight to a minimum. If something goes wrong you are truly on your own.

    • Coda and Dakota often travel solo, further details of their solo adventures will be provided, a blog about 'solo travel' will be added soon. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions

  • Group Travel:

    • Travelling as a group has its benefits of support, some equipment can be split up to keep weight to a minimum.  The size of the group may hinder where you can set up camp, as a rule of thumb people are less accommodating with large groups

    • Remember, travelling with others for long periods will test friendships. A point to consider, if your horse does not like your singing then others may not too

  • Support Crew:

    • A support crew is an option that can be used to enable travelling light. At the end of a section of trail, the camp site is set up ready, a hot meal and coffee is waiting and your equine companion will be well looked after

Note: Although a lot of information on this site is relevant to horse trekking, it has not been developed with pack horses in mind as we do not use this mode of horse trekking.

4. In Case Of Emergency (I.C.E.)

Regardless of how experienced a traveller you are, shit happens. Always ensure you have a back up plan:

  • Will there be mobile reception?;

    • Satellite (SAT) Phone, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Location Beacon (PLB) are valuable items to consider.

    • Consider using an 'emergency app', such as 'Emergency', a free app which can provide coordinates of your location in an emergency 

    • As a minimum, save your emergency contact under the name I.C.E. which others can easily identify on your device in the event you are not in a position to.

  • Does anyone know you are travelling? 

    • Do they know your route and scheduled stops

    • do you have a management plan to check in each day?

  • Is help available along your route?

    • Medical professionals, VET, Farrier; be aware of their availability along your chosen route.

  • Are you a member of a trail group or support group?

    • These groups can be a valuable source of support and information.

5. Preparing Your Horse

Riding long distances is taxing on both you and your horse. Remember, you will be judged by the condition of your horse, ensure your horse is equipped to deal with the rigors of the journey both physically, mentally and nutritionally.

Some other areas to consider:

  • Suitability:

    • Is your horse suitable for carrying weight or travelling long distances? Not all horses are suited to this kind of life. Remember like us, horses have different builds, personalities , emotions and capabilities. 

    • Different things invoke different reactions, put something outside its capabilities and tolerance then you will spend more time managing a problem than enjoying the experience.

    • Putting your horse through the stress of an activity it is not suited to could cause long term physical and emotional damage.

  • Fitness: 

    • Prior to any long distance journey, a training regime of short rides building to longer duration is recommended. Introducing increased loads over the duration of the training regime is also recommended to assist your horse in coping with the stress of a long journey under load. Ensure that rest days are incorporated into these training sessions to allow your horse recovery time.

    • What you feed your horse during the training phase should be an introduction into what you will feed your horse along the trail. You will require a feed with all the essential nutrients, including additives or supplements which provide adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Pellet type feed is recommended to minimise the risk of weed spread.

  • Exposure:

    • Ensure you know your horses capabilities and limitations. Introducing something unfamiliar to your horse will guarantee a reaction.

    • Exposure to traffic, water crossings, livestock, weather events, varying terrain, loud noises and flapping flags before hitting the trail is highly recommended. The time you put in early on with your horse will be time well spent and give you the understanding of how best to manage different situations.

6. Resupply Points

Regardless of whether you are Solo, as a Group or have Support Crew you will need to determine where to resupply along your chosen route.

As a Solo or Group the added element of determining how to resupply needs some forethought and planning. Liaising with farmers, local businesses or even sending items via courier to a predetermined location are available options. This is laborious and time consuming but with strategic planning the benefits have proven well worth the effort.

Keep in mind that public holidays, weekends, state/local emergencies and business opening hours may impact your ability to access supplies.