Eventually, we ended up talking about horses and crises. After all, some of our friends in the East were coping with the effects of Hurricane Irene on their barns and fences, and we are both practical people--we like to be ready for stuff rather than get ambushed.
I take this to a natural extreme. I was raised by Boy Scouts: "Be Prepared" isn't a motto in my family; it is, rather, tattooed on our brains at birth. After all, our Swampland is in the strike zone for tsunami, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, not to mention washed-out roads, fallen power lines, and ongoing lousy weather. All that stuff, plus disasters brought on by human action or inaction, can make for stress (at best) or injury (or worse) to you or your horse.
I figure, with winter on the horizon, it's time to talk about crisis.
I'd like to get reader input about how you plan to cope when things go wrong at home, in a ridecamp, and on the trail.
Of course, there's always a way to avoid crisis. You could hire guardians to follow you everywhere, equipped with high-powered shortwave radio and gigantic first-aid kits. Heck, you could refuse to go anywhere that would be more than 5 minutes response distance to the nearest world-class health facility or board-certified veterinarian. You could even refuse to leave home at all. Some people, in fact, refuse to venture beyond the Disneyland-certified safety of civilization.
I don't want to live my life that way, so I make a lot of plans for when things (inevitably) go wrong.
I'll sort this into three blog posts to keep from overwhelming everyone, and to allow everyone to think and share their thoughts and experiences:
- 1. Hunker down
- 2. Run like hell
- 3. Stand and fight
There are plenty of reasons that you might want to stop what you are doing and hunker down for a while with your horse. Maybe bad weather has moved in suddenly. Maybe your truck won't start. Perhaps you, or your riding partner, or one of your horses has sustained a non-life-threatening injury. Maybe the road is blocked or washed out. Maybe there's blood. Maybe there's a concussion. Maybe there's a bee-sting. Maybe you are lost.
I'm going to assume that your house and/or barn are well-equipped for "hunker down" emergencies. You probably have food there (for you and your horse and anybody else who gets stuck there), even if means that he'll be eating hay without supplements and you'll be eating canned chili for a week. I hope that you also have a supply of water for a few days if the power goes out or the water main breaks...and if you don't (yet), here's your reminder to go do that before winter moves in.
We bought a $30 rain barrel to put under the gutter of the barn, and it stores 50 gallons. That, plus the water tank that is also filled by rain gutters, gives us more than 100 gallons of water for horses. We also have potable water in the horse trailer (25 gallons) in the camper (30 gallons), plus a bunch of water jugs stored in various outbuildings around the property.
What about in a ridecamp? You aren't going to take your rain barrel to camp, so what happens if the road into camp washes out and you get stuck there for a few extra days? Do you carry extra food and water for people and horses? Do you carry warm/dry clothes for people, and a blanket for your horse? What else do you do to prepare for an unexpected "hunker down" in camp?
Now, think about the stuff you normally carry out on the trail. I have posted in the past about the Ten Essentials that the Mountaineers recommend every wilderness traveler carry. These are:
- Navigation (map & compass)
- Sun protection (sunglasses & sunscreen)
- Insulation (extra clothing)
- Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
- First-aid supplies
- Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candle)
- Repair kit and tools
- Nutrition (extra food)
- Hydration (extra water)
- Emergency shelter (tent/plastic tube tent/garbage bag)
Can you? What do you carry? What do you NOT carry? What do you think you'd wish for if you got stuck on the trail tomorrow afternoon?
Okay, the comment box is open. I want to hear about your "hunker down" strategies and plans for when something goes wrong and your best option is to stay where you are. Has anybody had to do this with horses? Let's hear from you!
For those of you how have lived under a rock for the past 100 years without knowledge of the astonishing talents of Tom Lehrer, let me caution you that the following video/song is hilarious, but not NSFW!!!
Next post: How to be ready to run like hell.