Hay Creek Ranch and HCR- AZ is a vacation destination for lots of folks from lots of different locations. Some come from the local area and some from every state in the USA. Such is the popularity of the place!
We’ve had visitors even from Europe and New Zealand. Most of the international tourists, who come here, tend to prefer private jets (because apparently flying on a private jet costs less nowadays). After landing at the nearest airport, they drive on the highway to get to their destination. Whether our guests come from near or far they all have to make plans to prepare for their trip. The success and enjoyment of everyone’s vacation ends up being decided by how well they plan.
Often while visiting with our guests we get questions about traveling with horses and all of the stuff that goes along with their care and comfort. We also get questions about directions, travel routes , and many other topics.
I am going to put some ideas and information on the page to attempt to help you in your planning for your next trip.
The first thing you need to do is decide when and where you want to go and for how many days, weeks or months. Once you get the when and where figured out then you can check out the different destinations available in the area you wish to visit. While you are doing your search you will be able to find lots of options on the internet with all kinds of ways to select and finalize your reservation. At HCR and HCR-AZ we’ve stayed with the old traditional method of requiring guests to call us to make their reservation. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, we find it valuable to begin building a relationship with our guests. You can’t do that via email or text in the same way you can in a real conversation. Second, through the act of having a conversation we can get a lot of questions answered better and easier than by any other method.
I can tell you from personal experience that only gaining information from a website and an e-mail conversation can be very misleading. I can also say that when I talk to someone for a few minutes I can get a pretty good idea whether I want to do business with them or not. So, all I’m saying is take the time to call and talk to the owner or manager of the location you plan to visit and don’t simply go on line to make your reservation.
Once you decide where you’re going, you need to figure out the best way to get there. I know a lot of you don’t even think about this part of your trip because you think you can just plug in the address of your destination and, like magic, you end right where you wanted to go. Well, not always. Often times the locations trail riders want to visit are remote and don’t show up on GPS programs. At HCR in South Dakota the GPS services have the wrong names on some of the roads in the area so, needless to say, that doesn’t work very well. Again, talk to your host and find out the best way to get to their location, ask them for directions, because they know where they live and how to get there. Your host will also know the requirements for bringing horses into their location. They’ll know what paperwork you’ll need to get, like health and Coggins papers, etc.
Make sure you take the time to get your equipment checked over. Be sure your tires, lights and brakes are all in good shape before you leave on your trip.
Plan your travel to give yourself enough time to get to your destination before dark. Getting your stock cared for and your rig set up is so much easier in the daylight. I know you’ll be happier and your host will appreciate this, too.
When looking at the distance you have to travel account for how you travel. Do you stop often or do you only stop to refuel? Are you traveling alone or are you traveling in a group? Whenever you travel with a group you have to plan on a lot more time to make the trip because every time you stop everything just takes longer.
If you are looking at a trip that takes a day to make it’s pretty easy but if you’re going to be on the road for four or five days you have to plan a lot more. You’re going to have to stop overnight at a couple of locations before you get to your destination. In doing so you’ll need to decide how far you want to drive each day and then find overnight sites that will have amenities for you and your horses. There’s several websites to review to help you find the sites you need.
The time of year is also a factor to consider. When traveling in the summer some folks like to travel at night, its cooler for the horses and its better for your tires and equipment, too. Always make sure you have plenty of ventilation for your horses any time you’re on the road, this is VERY IMPORTANT for your animals health and well being. If you don’t like to travel at night give yourself extra time for the unplanned flat tire. The heat of the day can take a toll on tires.
For folks that like to go south for the winter, overnight stays are common and weather issues can be common place, too. Again, planning for your stops and giving yourself enough time to deal with the delays that can show up is a good thing. In winter, your days are shorter so you have less time to be on the road if you’re going to get to the stops before dark, so plan accordingly.
Plan for your horses needs, too. Take enough feed to cover a couple of extra days on the road in case of equipment failure or weather delays. You can always find feed but it’s much easier to have it with you. Always carry water buckets or tubs with you because you may need them at your overnight stops or your final destination. When feeding for your overnight stays, I like to feed enough to cover the horse for his evening and morning needs all at the night feeding. If you do this your horse will have eaten enough to carry him to the next evening/morning feeding and he’ll be ready to get in the trailer for the day’s travel. I don’t feed in the trailer and I don’t water, either. All of that can wait until you get to your next overnight stop or your final destination.
Your horse will travel as many hours as you choose to be on the road. He doesn’t care as long as you feed him and water him when he gets to the day’s destination. There’s no need to stop for your horse and no need to take him out of the trailer during the day of travel. All that does is add time to your day and less miles traveled in the time you allowed for that day. There’s no benefit to your horse. Most horses don’t drink while on the road until they settle in for the night, so don’t waste your time trying to water him on the road. It’s more important to get where you’re going and then give your horse more time at your overnight stop.
This information is real basic and not rocket science but it works. I could go on with more points but this is a good place to stop. The most important part of your trip is the planning, if you do a good job of that you’ll have a great vacation.
By the way, I know of a couple great places you can go, one’s in South Dakota and one’s in Arizona. It’ll Be Fine when you give us a call. SAFE TRAVELS!
Doug and Jody Lindgren own and operate Hay Creek Ranch, Nemo, SD and HCR-AZ, Oracle, AZ. Both camps focus on guests vacationing with their own horses. Doug rides year-around, training horses to be great trail horses.
Visit www.haycreekranch.net for more information about both locations.
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This article was printed in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 9, Issue 1