Written and photographed by Tricia Byerrum
When you first hear of horses and hammocks, they aren't things that you would necessarily associate with each other. In fact, many would assume that they don’t go together at all.
Horses are known for being flighty and spooking very easily, especially with large objects that can flap in the wind and make noise. However, with proper familiarization and knowing your horse well, the two can be a great pair and open many new opportunities for adventure.
While living in Lake Tahoe, I found myself going on trail rides often. While I was out on a ride one day, I found a perfect place to set up a hammock out on the trail. It became routine for me that on my days off I would bring my ENO DoubleNest Hammock and relax with a good book while my horse would graze in the meadow.
Hammocking with my horse is one of my favorite ways to spend time with her out in nature. But, before you set of on a hammocking adventure together, there are a few things you should know.
First Step – Understanding Your Horse’s Limits
Knowing your horse’s limits is incredibly important. If you are unsure of their tolerance level to new objects, it is a good idea to start small and work towards building their confidence.
After knowing and trusting your horse and things that they are capable of, the next step is introducing them to a hammock in a safe environment.
Luckily for me, my horse is very mellow. Knowing this, I pulled out my hammock in front of her before I set it up and let her check it out. I began to shake it around and wave it in the air so she could see its movement. Once I knew she was fine with this, I set up the hammock and brought her over to check it out. She sniffed it and jumped slightly when she touched her nose to it for the first time. Since then, she has been completely comfortable with the hammock set up anywhere around her.
Second Step – Knowledge of Your Hammocking Location
Finding a great spot for hammocking is important. Not only do you want to be safe, but conscious of the environment for your horse as well.
When introducing a horse into this environment, there are a few more things to consider. Will your equine friend be safe? Will they be tied to a trailer, a tree, or something else that is secure? Other options include high-lines, hobbles, staking them out, or holding onto their lead rope while you are in the hammock.
I am fortunate to have a horse who is capable of all these options and it maximizes the places where I can take her out without worrying about what to do with her when I get to my destination. My personal favorite is using hobbles if the vegetation around me is suitable for her to graze.
The location and environment of your chosen destination may limit your options. It is important to consider the terrain and vegetation. Will your horse be able to safely graze without worry of toxic plants? Knowing the environment can better help you prepare for your horse.
When it comes to the ideal hammock spot, look for healthy, living trees that are about 10-15 feet apart and at least 6 inches in diameter. Avoid hammocking close to cliff edges, above sharp rock, blocking paths, or above sensitive plant life. It's critical to hammock responsibly to not impact the environment around you.
My ideal hammocking spot is typically right on the edge of a trail with a meadow next to me so I can let my horse have some freedom while I am relaxing in my hammock. If there tends to be more trees in the area around me, I may choose a nice shady spot and highline her, or tie her to a tree so I am not worried about her trampling any new growth.
Third Step - Prepare for Your Adventure
A convenient way that I like to carry along my ENO hammock and straps for my adventures without having to worry about any other bulky gear is to use a clip or carabiner and attach the hammock and straps to the saddle on a secure ring.
Depending on your saddle, you may need to consider other options such as saddle bags or tying to saddle strings. Saddle bags can be nice because they allow you the option to bring drinks, snacks, books, or anything that may be convenient for your outing.
If you are planning on packing heavier gear, it is important to know how much weight your horse should carry and how to properly attach everything. There is also always the option of wearing a backpack if none of these are do-able for your saddle.
Now that you have some of your logistics figured out, try planning a small outing with your horse and enjoy the time outside together. It is always important to make sure that you are respectful of nature and leave it looking better than you found it.
Stay on trails as best you can and don’t trample through any new growth or sensitive habitat. Always double check that hammocking is allowed where you are planning to set up.
Before you know it, you and your horse will be hooked on these hammock adventures. I hope they can provide you both with quiet time to recharge and relax.
While living in beautiful Lake Tahoe, photographer and horse lover Tricia Byerrum found that while taking her horse out for trail rides there were many opportunities to set up her ENO hammock. After finding a good location, it has become routine that on her days off she goes out to relax and read a book in her hammock while her horse grazes in a meadow. For more of Tricia’s adventures follow her along on her Instagram as she continues to explore the equine and western community.