When you're heading out on a long ride, whether its a leisurely half-day amble or a full-day trek, it pays to be prepared. Things that might not seem like a big deal on a quick jaunt around the block, can become ride-ruining issues the longer you spend in the saddle.
We have a number of experienced trail and endurance riders here at Gone Ridng, so we put our heads together and assembled a list of 7 long ride must-haves we won't leave the stable without!
Preferably something yummy and easy to eat one-handed that isn't going to melt. And if you're going to take snacks, you need a convenient, easy-to-reach bag to store them in. I love the Cashel Pommel Bags for just this reason, they're the perfect size for a couple of muesli bars, a carrot and a Snickers. with a little room left over for lip balm.
The Snap On Lunch Bag is also a great choice, and works just as well on English saddles as Westerns. If your saddle has a horn, the Horn Bag with Lunch and Bottle holder is another great choice and has the benefit of keeping your water close to hand.
Needless to say, keeping hydrated particularly on longer rides and in warm weather. No matter how long or short the ride, I always carry at least one bottle of water and on rides over two hours, I take two, even in winter.
Thermal water bottles, such as the Contigo WestLoop Mug, are great even in summer. Not only are they the perfect size for most bottle holders (like the these ones from Cashel) but they'll keep your water cold in summer and warm in winter.
If you're looking for a cup instead of a bottle, the Speed Cup is an awesome little gadget. Originally designed for marathon runners, it's a collapsible cup you can keep in your pocket or stashed in a saddle bag.
For long hours in the saddle you need your best pair of comfy riding pants. Generally, if you're riding for longer than a half-day, we recommend jodhpurs or other pants designed especially for riding. Riding pants are designed without a seam inside the leg, preventing chafing.
While you can wear yoga pants, jeans and gym tights, they still have an inseam, which might not cause problems on shorter rides, but can on longer ones. That doesn't mean you have to wear brightly coloured riding tights or cream joddies (unless you want to!); there are lots of other options, including riding jeans and snazzy slacks.
A long ride isn't the time to try out a new saddle. New saddles, whether they're preloved and new-to-you or straight out off the shelf, are like shoes; they need to be worn in before you take them on a big run. An untested saddle can be uncomfortable not just for you, but your hors, causing rubs and soreness in all the wrong places.
Even if you're using the old, well-worn saddle you've ridden in a hundred times before, you might want consider a little extra cushioning for your bum. Unless you have an armchair strapped to your horse's back, at some point your butt is going to get sore, which is why I love the Cashel Tush Cush. The extra 1/2-inch of foam has saved my behind on any number of occasions.
Obviously, this one isn't so much an issue for summer as it is for spring and winter, but a raincoat, even if you think you won't need one, can be a ride-saver. There's nothing worse than being cold and miserable with half a day of hard riding still ahead of you.
Any waterproof jacket will do, but you can't beat a coat that's designed to be worn in the saddle, like the Pak-A-Roo or Nullabor Oilskin dusters. Both are ankle-length coats (to keep your legs dry), with two-way zippers and extra room at the back to fit over a saddle, without bunching around your waist.
Just like you keep raincoats in mind for the wet seasons, sun protection should be on your mind for summer. Beyond the usual sunscreen, UV resistant clothing, sunglassesand wide helmet brims are handy solutions.
During summer, one of my favourite accessories are the IceRay Arm Cooling sleeves. Not only are they SPF 50+, they have the added benefit of keep you cool on hot days, using moisture-wicking technology.
Whether you ride in a halter or not, carrying a lead rope is dead handy even on short rides. Being able to get off and tie your horse up or lead them across a creek, puddle or raging river is a lot easier with something longer than your reins. Wrap your rope up and clip it to the back of your saddle for easy access.
Saddles ties are another small but handy accessory on long rides. These 1.5m strings are made of super-strong paracord and are a godsend if something breaks, falls off or you just forgot your coat bag; whip 'em out, wrap 'em around the thing and tie 'em to your D rings. Job done.