Cover image for Have saddle, will travel : low-impact trail riding and horse camping
Have saddle, will travel : low-impact trail riding and horse camping
West, Don (Donald Parker)
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
North Adams, MA : Storey Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
131 pages ; color illustrations ; 28 cm
General Note:
"Previously self-published by Don West and titled Have saddle-will travel"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SF309.28 .W47 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Millions of horse owners enjoy trail riding and horse camping, and every U.S. state has an active trail riding association. But many riders may find themselves banned from the back country because of the environmental impact they cause. LOW-IMPACT TRAIL RIDING offers a solution: Don West's "Go Right, Go Light," leave-no-trace strategies for low-impact horse camping.

West, an internationally known expert on basic horsemanship and back-country travel, tells you everything you need to know with his generous wit and wisdom. He covers planning and packing for a low-impact trip, back-country ethics, cooking on the trail, tying a horse responsibly, conditioning both the horse and the rider, orienteering, sanitation, and dealing with emergencies. Included are checklists for horse, camping, and personal items, as well as trail-savvy menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A source guide provides lists of trail riding establishments in the United States and abroad.


Author Notes

Don West is an adventurer, traveler, writer, poet, and accomplished horseman. His colorful life has included stints as a Marine, an Outward Bound instructor in the Rocky Mountains, and deputy sheriff of Crested Butte, Colorado



CHAPTER TWO - Planning for Adventure Storm Rider The day had started out peacefully enough. The night before, I had found a cozy little campsite just as dusk settled in. It was out of the wind, sheltered by a small hill, and surrounded by a grove of mature aspens whose leaves had already turned a warm golden red. A large, gently sloping meadow led down to a small, no-name stream, hidden from view by the stunted willows that grew in thick profusion along its shallow banks. Even though I had camped with the setting sun at my back, it was almost eight o'clock the next morning before rays of sunlight descended through the trees and found my tent, warming me from the outside in. I waited a while longer, enjoying this little moment of luxury, hunkered down in my cozy sleeping bag. Earlier, at first light, I had gotten up, hobbled and belled my horse, and turned him loose from his night high line. Then I had slipped back into my cozy bag. I brewed and slowly sipped three cups of coffee and ate my bowl of steaming hot oatmeal as I enjoyed peeking out of the tent flap, watching the horse graze. It was pure pleasure, just lying there, letting my mind drift freely, and feeling the rhythm of the mountains settling into me. Finally, I broke camp, packed up, and hit the trail. Now it was midafternoon. The trail had led me higher and higher up a mountain range. Aspen groves gave way to stands of spruce and fir which, as I ascended, diminished in size from towering giants to tiny dwarfs. Now even the last holdouts, isolated, twisted stands of ancient, weathered bristlecone pines, had disappeared a thousand feet below. The trail picked its way up easily through the slide rock, gaining altitude at a gentle angle. Long, gray granite scree slopes reached up toward the horizon in wide bands, divided by narrow corridors of low-growing shrubbery. A mile or so ahead, the trail crossed over the range at a low spot, a natural gateway in a 12,000-foot-high ridge that looked as though a row of giant pyramids had been stacked carefully along its top, making an intimidating fortress. Storm clouds began to gather overhead, out of nowhere. Suddenly the temperature began to drop. I hurried a little faster, feeling a strange nervousness in my horse and in myself. It's amazing how quickly things can change in the high mountains. A few moments before, the sun had been shining. Now the clouds got darker and began to race toward each other as if they knew that by joining forces they could increase their threatening power. I pushed on a little faster, hoping to get across the pass before the storm struck. I almost made it, too. Just as I broke over the crest, a ghostlike whine sent a shiver through my body and chilled me to my bones. My horse's mane stood straight up. You could feel the electricity in the air. Lightning crashed on the peaks all around me. The smell of ozone, unmistakable and pungent to the nose, filled my lungs. I stopped just long enough to tighten my cinch, pull on all my extra clothes and waterproof riding coat, and give a quick check to the trail below. With no further ado, we started down. The trail was much steeper on this side of the range. It led precariously over a bare, exposed cliff face. Only a narrow, serpentlike series of switchbacks, probably blasted out by gold and silver miners, allowed passage to the giant glacial bowl and scattered clumps of black timber that lay thousands of feet below. Five hundred feet off the top, the rain hit hard. It came full force in a gust of wind so strong it almost blew me off my horse. I grabbed my hat just in the nick of time before it became a flying saucer. I pulled it down tight until it bent the top of my ears out at a crazy angle. The rain came harder and harder from every direction. Within minutes I was soaked through and through. The collar of my slicker wasn't high enough to keep the rain out. Soon a steady stream ran down the middle of my back and split in two where my posterior met my saddle, continuing on down my legs and slowly filling my boots. I started to shiver uncontrollably. Even so, I had to laugh to myself, thinking how much like a drowned rat I must have looked. I've got to tell you, I was miserable. The rain began to let up a little. Hail and sleet took its place. The trail, bone-dry and hard as a rock only minutes before, became a slick river of mud and ice. Little white balls of melting sleet started building up under my horse's feet. The temperature kept dropping. I couldn't tell who was shivering more, my horse or me. Our breath condensed, creating puffy clouds in the frigid air. We looked like a couple of steam engines chugging down the trail. An hour later, so cold and stiff I could barely step down from the saddle, I pulled up at the first thick stand of blue spruce we came to. I had to look at my hands and force them to move to get my gear unpacked and my horse unsaddled. I scraped away six inches of snow that had already accumulated on the soft bed of needles, and I somehow managed to set up my little tent. I shed my soaking wet clothing, crawled into my sleeping bag, and fired up my backpacking stove. Within minutes the tent was warm and cozy. Melted snow was boiling in my pot. A cup of instant soup brought life back to my slightly hypothermic core temperature as the steaming cup warmed my hands and my spirits. It felt great to be alive! All night long, the storm raged and buffeted my tent, but I was warm and dry inside. Periodically, I crawled out to check on my horse and move him to a fresh grazing spot. By morning the clouds had already blown away. Once again, the sun shone bright and clear. I took my time drying my clothing and gear, enjoying the luxurious warmth and the incredible view. Then I headed on down into the protection of lower country. As I rode down the trail, I thought about the unexpected predicament I had just survived. What might easily have become a life or death experience turned out to be nothing more than a fast-fading memory, some brief discomfort, rewarded by a sense of high adventure. I mentally evaluated my clothing and equipment. I realized that if I hadn't made the right choices and packed the right stuff, I might have easily fallen victim to hypothermia. What had I done right? What could I improve? What could I learn from my experience? These questions are always on my mind as I prepare for the next excursion into the backcountry. An adventure is a trip in which you don't know what the outcome will be. Sometimes, however, the full appreciation of the fun had on a trip takes a little time to ripen! Camping Gear Here is a list of items that will keep you comfortable in the worst of conditions. - Bowl - Cup - foam pad (or three-quarters-length self-inflating air mattress with short-ties to keep it rolled up) - food (see below) - fuel bottle (with a good cap) and funnel, or fuel cartridge - paper towels - plastic garbage bag (to cover saddle at night, etc.) - pots (nesting) and lids with handles (in bag) - saddle bags and cantle bags to pack gear - salt and pepper shakers (waterproof) - sleeping bag and waterproof stuff sack (lightweight backpacking type no more than three pounds) - soap (liquid biodegradable) and sponge with scrubbing pad - spoons - toilet paper and premoistened wipes in zip closure bag (plus tiny bottle of bleach to disinfect hands) - ultralight backpacking stove, cigarette lighter, and funnel (in bag) - ultralight tent and fly plus poles and stakes (no more than three pounds per person) - water bottles (bicycle type) Personal Clothing - chinks (waterproof and breathable nylon) - gaiters (waterproof and breathable nylon) - gloves - helmet or cowboy hat - jeans - long underwear (light- or medium-weight polypropylene or equivalent) - neckerchief - riding coat (waterproof or very water resistant and breathable) - shirt, long-sleeved (cotton, synthetic, or lightweight wool, depending on conditions) - shirt, short-sleeved (polo shirt or T-shirt) - shoes, boots, or riding sneakers (something you can lace up and really walk in) - socks (wool, polypropylene, or mixture) - two pairs - stocking cap - vest - undershorts (cotton or synthetic) - windbreaker - wool sweater or fleece jacket (medium weight for layering) Personal items - camera and film (compact) - field glasses (compact) - folding knife (in belt sheath) - glasses and sunglasses (with case) - headlamp - insect repellent - small washcloth - sunscreen - toilet paper (in sealed plastic bag) - toothbrush - toothpaste Typical Menus Breakfast - brown sugar - coffee or tea - dried fruit - granola - honey - hot oatmeal (individual packets) - hot or cold powdered juice (e.g., Tang) - margarine - powdered milk - raisins - white sugar Lunch - bagels - cheese - cream cheese - dried fruit - energy or granola bars - gorp (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts: a mix of nuts, dried fruit, carob bits, etc.) - jam or jelly - powdered drinks (e.g., Crystal Light, Gatorade) Dinner - instant soup (individual packets) - main course: many good dehydrated meals are available; add boiling water and let simmer, then add cheese, margarine, powdered milk, salt, and pepper - dessert: instant pudding, dehydrated applesauce, etc. - hot drinks: hot chocolate, tea, coffee, or hot Tang Excerpted from Have Saddle, Will Travel by Don West All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prologuep. viii
Chapter 1 Simplest Is Bestp. 1
Chapter 2 Planning for Adventurep. 29
Chapter 3 Adventures on Horsebackp. 67
Chapter 4 Life Is a Trailp. 87
Chapter 5 Past and Futurep. 117
Indexp. 129