Everyone has their own personal preference about what they carry with them when they ride. And that’s ok! I personally just try to carry with me what I will need to get through the loop and back to the trailer/crewing area so as not to overload my horse with everything but the kitchen sink.
As you can see in the picture, this is generally the contents of my saddle pack. Although it may vary from time to time depending on what type of ride I’m doing, these items would generally be with me on every ride.
Water – depending on the temperature and the length of the loop, I will carry 1-2 bottles of water. I always make it my goal to go through the water I’m carrying on the loop before getting back to the crewing area. This keeps me from becoming dehydrated.
Human electrolytes – in addition to the water, on those really hot and humid days, I will carry some human electrolytes with me. You can get these at most running or camping stores and they either come in a powder you can mix in a bottle of water or they make chewable ones. It is all dependent on your preference. These are much better than Gatorade because they contain less sugar. Depending on the length of the loop, I may or may not carry a syringe with electrolytes for my horse. Again, whether or not you choose to carry them for your horse is up to you. You know your horse best.
Toilet paper – if you have a small bladder like me, going through two bottles of water in a little over an hour is going to make you have to go to the bathroom (probably at the most inconvenient time when you are still 5 miles from base camp!). I always carry some on me when I’m riding in a plastic baggie to keep it from getting wet.
Cell phone – While it is safer to carry your phone on you in the unlikely event you and your horse become separated on the trail, I usually keep mine in my saddle pack. If your phone is not waterproof, I recommend putting it in a plastic baggie as well, along with a sheet of emergency contact numbers. Having a cell phone on me has proved to be of tremendous help, especially when you lose a shoe on trail and have to call the farrier to come meet you.
Snacks – I like to carry something that won’t melt or go bad that will keep me satisfied until I can get back to the crewing area and eat some real food. Granola bars or energy bars are great for this. On longer rides, I will usually bring something sugary for a boost of energy such as licorice or gummies.
Chap stick, sunscreen and bug spray – these three aren’t necessary but they sure are helpful. Anything to make me more comfortable on a long ride will find its way into my pack.
Hoof pick – these are small, cheap and very handy. Sometimes those rocks just don’t want to come out with your hands.
First aid kit – I normally carry just one for humans with your basic bandages, gauze, antiseptic spray, etc.; just enough for me to be comfortable enough to get back to the trailers. I don’t normally carry first aid equipment for my horse as I have a one back at the crewing area. If the injury is that bad that it cannot wait to get to the crewing area, that’s when an emergency call is made back to base camp.
Multi-tool – A Swiss army knife works as well. You never know when you’re going to have to repair a piece of tack out on the trail or deal with some other obstacle where something on that tool might help you out. I also carry electrical tape and zip ties or binder twine for this same reason.
What do you pack in your saddle bags?