It’s a familiar story. A horse-crazy child gets her first pony. She takes riding lessons, excels at local shows, finds the discipline of her dreams, and goes on to compete at Regionals. Then she gets her off-the-track Thoroughbred and continues with lessons and clinics while she trains her gelding, hoping to earn a place on the provincial team and eventually compete at Nationals. But along comes high school graduation, university, career choices.

Spending all day with your horse, visiting with friends, and riding a variety of trails pretty much describes horse camping, so it’s no surprise that many riders consider horse camping to be the ultimate adventure. Although performance riders often haul to a different facility for a clinic or competition, put their horse in a stall, and camp out in their rig, trail rider-style horse camping is a bit different.

Some farms are more susceptible to muddy conditions than others. Mud is a result of prolonged wet soil conditions, which is often dependent on soil type and topography. After a rainstorm or spring snowmelt, clay soils drain more slowly than sandy soils and are therefore more prone to muddy conditions. In addition, muddy conditions are more likely to occur in areas of low elevation because runoff water tends to accumulate in these areas.

Arriving at the ranch with my husband, Joe, in complete darkness, we were greeted at the gate by Dave Leishman, ranch owner and manager, and led to the cabin which would be our home for the coming week. After unloading the car I sat on the deck admiring the stars and taking in the sound of horses grazing in a nearby field. The log cabin was brand new, featuring wooden furniture and an extremely comfy bed. Drifting off to sleep, I wondered what the ranch would look like in daylight.

Recent research suggests that laminitis is as common as colic. The study, led by Dr. Danica Pollard, a Ph.D. student at the Royal Veterinary College, found that one in ten horses or ponies may develop at least one laminitis episode each year.

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Riding Vactions in California with Jec Ballou

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