Love the idea of heading for the hills and going camping with your horse? Wondering where you can camp with your horse at the end of the day? Check out this list of ideas of places that might be suitable for you and your steed to lay your weary heads for the night.
Where Can I Camp with My Horse?
The idea of heading out for a long ride and going camping with your horse is an idea entertained by horse lovers both young and old. Choosing where to go is easy enough- after all, you’ve probably taken your horse out on countless trail rides and no doubt have an idea of how to manage the day’s travel. Now you’re ready to take the next step and go camping with your horse…. but where?
Unlike stealth-camping, horse travel is a little trickier. Gone are the days of the horse-friendly pubs, complete with hitching rails and stables out the back, conveniently spaced a manageable day’s ride apart.
Now clearly in the travelling minority, horse-trekkers need to be much more well- prepared than in days gone by. When seeking out a potential spot for camping with your horse, you might look for the following, listed in order of priority.
What to Look for in a Good Horse Campsite
- Grass/ hay for your horses.
- A buffer between the road/ any traffic hazards and your camp
- Paddock/ yard
- Flat ground
- Trees for shade/ tying up
- Fallen sticks/ Wood (for fire
- Picnic Table
Ideas on Where to go camping with your horse:
Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs)
Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) are parcels of Crown land reserved under legislation for use by travelling stock, and a sight for every horse trekkers’ sore eyes. Local Land Services is responsible for the care, control and maintenance of almost 500,000ha of TSRs in NSW.
You’ll need to obtain a permit from Local land Services to us them, but once this is obtained, you’ll be free to camp, access water, and let your horses graze within TSRs, most of which are fenced.
BnBs / farm stays
Okay, so it’s not REALLY camping with your horse. But farmstays can a great option for those new to horse travel.
Once you’ve planned your route, check out whether you’ll pass or come within reach of a local rural farmstay or BnB. Even if their website does not explicitly state that horses or catered for, it’s worth making some enquiries. Being farm-based, most rural accommodation facilities will have fenced areas or yards. If you are a paying customer, perhaps booking a room or chalet on site, most places will be happy to let your horses use a paddock for the night. What’s more, you’ll get to enjoy a hot bath while your horses are comfortably grazing and safely contained.
These can vary vastly in size and potential camp-comfort, especially from state to state. Along Travelling Stock Routes, road verges can be especially wide. in fact, some of the best horse camps ever can be on a road verge. Often there can be up to at least 50 metres between the road and fence, with a buffer of trees along the road for added shade, privacy and security for your animals.
Unfortunately, such roadside bliss is rare, especially away from the TSR-rich eastern states. But if you look hard enough, there are often pull-offs or small roadside clearings that can make adequate, if not luxurious horse camps. Road reserves are usually quite generous at places like river crossings/ bridges and these can often be a cosy spot to set up camp with your horse for the night.
Determining whether land is part of the road corridor or is infact unfenced private property can be made easier with the use of 1:25000 topographic maps. Generally, private property is marked by a thin black border. The road reserves are the bits of land in between these.
With the advent of the grey nomad movement, most road maps and travel atlases now include information on rest areas, public campgrounds and free campsites. Some of these are suitable for overnighting with horses, provided there is a water source and grazing, and space to contain your animals (or the possibility of a hay drop), and no risk of being mowed down by road trains in the night (highly possible at many highway rest areas!).
While some public campsites (mostly in Victoria and the NSW high-country) even provide yards and other facilities for horses, others are situated in National Parks and forbid domestic animals. If dogs are banned, there’s a good chance horses will be too, so choose your campsite accordingly.
Caravan parks in rural areas occasionally have access to a spare paddock which they might use as an overflow area in busier times. It MAY be possible to let paying customers keep horses there for the night.
Unfortunately, this is a bit hit or miss. With any luck, on a long horse trek, you will have passers—by offer you a corner of their paddock or even a bed for the night. Other times, you may not be so lucky.
Unlike in other countries, it’s not as easy as coming across a nice patch of land and strolling up the drive to ask the farmer for permission to camp. In Australia, the homestead may well be miles away, and absentee landowners ever are on the increase. Additionally, ever-increasing biosecurity concerns on productive farms may also limit your chances. Often, the last thing farmers want is a tribe of mounted vagabonds rolling up on their doorsteps begging to camp. Best to treat this one as an emergency fall-back measure for camping with your horse rather than a viable option.
As bizarre as it sounds, when one is an area lacking in TSRs or established horse-friendly campsites, one must be creative.
For example, in the south-west corner of Western Australia, Blue gum plantations are large and are often owned by a corporation who does not live on site. By law, they must contain several water access points, and often feature wide cleared areas between blocks of trees, which make excellent grazing strips for camping with your horse. Management information and contact numbers can usually be found on the front gate. In my experience, these companies are usually happy to give permission to camp for the night, provided you leave no trace.
Country Halls / Fire Sheds
These make wonderful campsites, and often you won’t even need the hall key. Instead, make use of the perimeter fencing to graze/ contain your horses. There is usually running water that can be accessed outside, and back verandas are a godsend in foul weather. Make sure you ask permission first (in the absence of phone reception, neighbouring properties are usually involved in the management or at least know someone who is) rather than help yourself to the yard.
Showgrounds/ Pony clubs
Showgrounds are the ultimate 5-star accommodation option for horse-trekkers. Water, yards, shade, sometimes paddocks- the whole place had been set up with horses in mind, so you can rest assured that these are wonderful places to go camping with your horse. As always, ask permission and make sure your intended camp doesn’t clash with camp drafts, shows, or other events held on the grounds.
In summary, with a bit of hunting around and a fair dose of creativity, there are a great many places to go camping with your horse. The key to camping with your horse is to be well-prepared, always ask permission when unsure, tread lightly for the sake of future campers, and never jeopardise your or your animal’s safety by choosing an unsafe campsite.
Got any hacks or tips for finding a great horse campsite? Share in the comments below!