BEFORE YOU GO…
You will probably want to spend many hours in the saddle to see as much country as possible. Do yourself and your horse a favor and make sure the two of you are fit enough for a riding vacation. Overweight or under conditioned horses are prone to saddle sores, heat stroke and fatigue-induced injuries. A sensible conditioning program starting six to eight weeks before your trip will make the excursion more pleasant for both of you.
As for your own comfort, a few adjustments will make multiple days in the saddle a little more comfortable. Sheepskin seat covers are available for every type of saddle. They provide additional rider comfort without sacrificing “feel” of the horse. Water bottle holders which fit snugly to the pommel or cantle of the saddle will allow you to have your drink of choice at your fingertips throughout the day. If you find your feet going numb after hours in the stirrup, try a closed-cell foam stirrup pad. Be sure to lengthen your stirrup leathers a notch to make up for the added height. And dismounting to walk down hills will not only give your horse a break, it prevents leg muscles from getting as sore.
The author is a freelance writer based in Northern California.