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Holding Your Horses – and mules

Holding your Horses and Mules when trailhead camping

Horse camping is that extra special cherry on top of the pie of wonderful that trail riding can be. A calm quiet camp at the end of a day spent exploring trails far and wide is a beautiful thing. Ponies munching contentedly as we enjoy the campfire and tall tales of our adventures.

Falling asleep to the soft sounds of the horses eating and gently moving is part of the magic of horse camping.

Of course the awful antithesis of this is waking with a start and discovering that the ponies have gone a wandering. It happens to all of us. And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, it’s an indication that you should go horse camping more often.

Sweet dreams of trails traveled turn to nightmares in a heartbeat when the horses and mules vanish into the night. At best it’s lost sleep and the hassle of rounding them up. At worst your trail partners may never be found. It’s for that reason that holding your horses is very important!

But how to safely and securely contain our mischievous mounts? I’ve always been a fan of highlines. Properly done these are fabulous for keeping our horses safe and near camp. Highlines, however, do have few challenges. What if there’re no handy trees? What if highlines aren’t allowed?

The solution that I turn to when highlines aren’t an option (and sometimes when they are) are Corrals 2 Go portable travel corrals. These safe and secure steel corral panels let me get a good night’s sleep without having to worry about my animals going on walk-about.

Corrals 2 Go panels are made of sturdy ¾ inch square steel tubing that holds up to my rough treatment, holds my beasts, and stores conveniently when not in use. For more info on Corrals 2 Go visit www.corrals2go.com.

Steel vs PVC – I choose steel portable panels because steel is a superior material to PVC. Steel is strong, is lightweight when manufactured properly, and will not degrade over time due to UV radiation. Additionally if, and when, there is a problem steel will bend, PVC is brittle and will shatter into sharp shards. Not something that I want my trail buddies to encounter. My 13 ¾ inch steel panels are also much easier to store than an equal number of  2” diameter PVC pipes.

During my research on portable corrals I talked with Corrals 2 Go designer Dave Selzer about why he came up with these panels. The fact that Dave is a rider (He hasn’t graduated to mules yet, but we can’t hold that against him!) and knows what it is to keep our animals safe and secure overnight made my decision on panels much easier.

What is portable? I’ve seen people with standard fence panels tied to the sides of their trailers and my backcountry highline kit weighs under 3 pounds, so portability can vary. For trailhead camping I want the best combination of lightweight, so I can easily set it up, small size, I can easily transport it, and sturdy construction so my animals stay put. Seems like a bunch of contradicting wants but Dave was able to make it all work.

I prefer to reduce my workload when horse camping as much as possible. And at under 20 pounds per panel the Corrals 2 Go system keeps me from working harder than I need to. The panels hang securely over my trailer’s wheel wells in transit with the collapsible hangers that Dave also invented. And of course the sturdy steel tubing. I can and have set up the panels by myself and it was easy enough to do.

Since I started using Corrals 2 Go panels I’ve grown ever more fond of them. I generally travel with 3 animals and I can put all of them in together with plenty of room for each.

I have found that with Ruger, my inquisitive trouble maker, I needed to run a hot wire along the top rail to keep him from pushing the panels towards the always greener grass that is just out of reach.

So there you go my take on trailhead horse and mule containment and “holding your horses”. For more info on Corrals 2 Go visit www.corrals2go.com and of course for more info on trail riding and camping with livestock visit www.TrailMeister.com.