HORSEPLAY: Equestrian summer camps and horse trailer heat risk

THIS TIME OF year, I get frequent inquiries asking if I know of any horse camps, and/or have recommendations for youth riding lessons. Mostly, the questions come from grandparents who are looking forward to extended stays with visiting grandchildren.

Living Well Farm Summer Camp runs from July 29 to Aug. 2, 9 a.m. to noon. Ages 6 and older, beginner to advanced, are welcome. Riding lessons, horsemanship, art and crafts and more. Contact Nancy McCaleb at 360-461-3980. Located at 244 Glacier Lane, Port Angeles.

Jefferson County 4-H is hosting its annual horse day camp from July 11-14. Those age 8 and older must bring their own horse. The event is open to non-4-H members. Coordinators are Trena Brown, Chris Franson and Emily Bishop. Dawn Spencer is the performance, showmanship and equitation instructor. Marie Dickinson is horsemanship and gaming. Cost for the event is $175 per rider. It is held at the Jeffco Fairgrounds, 4907 Landes St., Port Townsend. Contact Trena Brown at trenab.81 or 360-301-5497 (she prefers texts).

June 29-30 is a Jeffco Schooling horse show. Performance is on Saturday and gaming is Sunday. Entries and more info are at

If you know of a horse camp with available space, please let me know. I also have a list of recommendations from lesson providers I know have safe lesson horses and an arena. If you offer such services, I’d be happy to meet with you and add you to my list. My contact information is listed at the bottom of my column. Texting is better than calling, because I don’t answer the phone for those not in my contact list. I do listen to voicemails, but sometimes don’t notice I have one from someone not in my contacts.

Today and Sunday is the Next Generation of Packers, an introduction to pleasure packing with Jay Adams of the Pierce County Chapter of BCH. Hosted by Backcountry Horsemen’s Peninsula Chapter. The two-day clinic includes hands-on instruction with pack saddles, fitting, rigging, building loads, high lines and a Dutch Oven Dinner and horse-friendly campsites. Held at Sage Horse Camp, 2514 Chicken Coop Road, Sequim. Cost is $65. Bringing your own stock and gear is optional. Contact Nicole Witham at 425-218-3608 or

With the summer season upon us, many horsemen will be taking their horses to areas with longer trail rides, camping, shows and other events. So, I thought I’d share a few tips and reminders to aid your horse in maintaining his or her peak performance level.

My first experiences with trailering horses long distances began when driving my niece, our horse Lacey and friend’s horses, to barrel racing events off the Olympic Peninsula, including the state finals held in Wenatchee for both Patterned Speed Horse and Washington High School Equestrian Team — roughly a 4 ½-hour drive. Arriving safely, along with the horse’s comfort and well-being, was of utmost concern to me. Even though all the horses were seasoned travelers, I know the experience upped their stress levels, especially when arriving and staying at unfamiliar places.

Ever more so when traveling during times of high heat. During Wenatchee’s summer events, the temperatures stayed above 100 degrees. The arena there included a water misting station where competitors (on horseback) could stand under while waiting their turn to run in the gaming event. Believe me, it was needed.

My trips for traveling:

• Prior to the trip, check to see if the trailer’s brakes, shock absorbers and tires (including tread and air pressure) are in good condition.

• Provide clean shavings on the floor for traction, and mist them with a spray nozzle to minimize dust inhalation.

• Ensure maximum ventilation.

• If your trailer has windows that open, keep the screens on and don’t drive with the horse’s head hanging out the window. One time I was driving home to Sequim, I had just passed the 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn when a driver with a fifth wheel trailer with three horse heads hanging out the window approached and passed me going the opposite direction. As it passed, my driver’s window suddenly shattered. Apparently, a tire from it kicked up a small rock with such force, it was as if a bullet pierced it. I found a rock among the debris of glass inside my truck. Thankfully, we were both were only going about 40 mph due to lots of summer traffic and the slower speed limit around the curve in the road in front of the casino — and the window was safety glass.

• Keep on alert for extreme temperatures inside the trailer. Most folks don’t have air conditioning inside their trailers. I have a three-horse slant trailer with an open space of about 10 inches high on three sides. In the winter, I use Plexiglass to keep freezing air from blasting inside; otherwise, it’s open. During a heat wave, it may be best to travel at night when the sun isn’t beating down. I didn’t think of this for my travels, but I’ve learned to install a temperature monitor with a base station — the same type used in homes to monitor the outside temperature without going outside. In fact, I’ve got one in my home now. Great idea! Hang the sensor in a mesh bag for good air flow and as far away as possible from a warm body.

I always travel with battery-operated large and small fans. The larger one I hung in Lacey’s stall. Small ones placed inside and above the horse’s rear ends could become valuable assets in bumper-to-bumper or slow-moving traffic.

Over long hauls, it’s prudent to stop everyone in a while to check on the horses. I suggest not chancing opening the trailer door unless you’re parked in a somewhat isolated location and you’ve checked to see your horses are still tied up. More than one equine has surprised its owner by escaping the trailer when the driver has opened the door. Prior to travel, try to plan those stops at known stables, horse hotels, etc. In this age of social media, it should be easy to find other horse owners who will suggest safe places to stop and give your horses a break, if needed.


Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Saturday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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