Backcountry Equestrian Camping Workshop and Horse Camp Experience


Fri Oct 21 2022 at 03:00 pm to Sun Oct 23 2022 at 02:00 pm


Lopez Lake Recreation Area | Arroyo Grande, CA

Camp and ride with your horse while attending an introductory workshop about backcountry travel and wilderness camping with equines.
About this Event

In a workshop divided over two days, Gillian Larson shares knowledge gained from her wilderness horseback adventures and provides skills and guidance about the unique challenges of riding in the backcountry. The goal is to help participants build the necessary foundation for their own backcountry journeys. In addition to the workshop, bring your horse and enjoy two nights of camping at the Black Bear equestrian group camp, with two scheduled trail rides, plus the opportunity for additional rides on your own. The workshop is designed to give you the information you need to start exploring overnight wilderness riding with your equine partner. Topics will include gear selection for both rider and horse, route planning and navigation, stock containment for overnights, nutrition, safety in the backcountry, and hands-on demonstrations and practice on how to use certain equipment. The approach is inclusive of those who wish to ride with or without an additional pack horse. Includes a welcome picnic on Friday night, as well as a BBQ dinner on Saturday evening.

Event Photos


3:00 Arrival and camp set-up (Black Bear equestrian group camp, Lopez Lake, Arroyo Grande, CA)

--At your leisure to explore the area

--View model campsite

5:30 Welcome picnic provided


Part I: Information (Camp French event center, Lopez Lake, Arroyo Grande, CA)

8:30 Continental breakfast (coffee, tea, juice, bagels and pastries, fruit provided)

--Information packet with gear list/supply list

9-10:30 Preparation for Backcountry Camping

--What to bring

--For you (gear selection and suggestions)

--For your horse (single riding horse vs. riding + pack animal)

• tack, saddles and pads

• saddlebags vs. pack saddle and panniers

• first aid, shoes, boots

• feed and containers

--Stock containment options (high-line, hobbles, picket, electric fence)

--Special considerations (bear country; out-of-state travel ; "leave no trace")

*****brief break*****

11:00-12:30 How to Plan Your Trip

--Communication and navigation on trail

--Planning your ride (researching trails ; designing a route ; permits/grazing )

--Campsite selection (topographical map reading)

--Small group breakouts/skill practice

--Trail recommendations

12:30-2:00 Lunch break

Bring your own packed lunch (beverages available)

2:00-4:30 Trail Ride (start from Black Bear camp)

--Duna Vista trail loop (about 7 miles)

5:30 BBQ Dinner


Part II: Demonstration and Practice (Black Bear equestrian group camp)

8:00-9:30 Packing demonstration (equipment and load distribution)

--Single horse with saddlebags

--Pack horse with pack saddle and panniers

--Small group packing practice

9:30-11:00 Containment demonstration

--How to set up electric fence

--How to use hobbles

--How to highline your horse

--Small group highline practice

11:30-1:00 Trail Ride

--High Ridge/Escondido Spur trail loop (about 3.5 miles)

2:00 Depart Black Bear equestrian group camp

Event Photos

Gillian Larson grew up in the canyons and hills of Topanga, California, where she began exploring the outdoors on her first horse at age 7. By 13, she had acquired a spirited Quarter horse mare whose boundless energy greatly expanded their horizons; she later bred the mare and raised the colt, taking both horses with her to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After graduating with a degree in biology, Gillian became the youngest person to solo thru-ride the Pacific Crest Trail, covering the 2650 miles from Mexico to Canada alone with her horses first in 2014, then again in 2016. After that, she went on to ride the Arizona Trail and the Colorado Trail in 2017, then completed another Mexico-to-Canada route on the Continental Divide Trail in 2018—the first person to thru-ride both the PCT and the CDT—eventually accumulating more than 10,000 backcountry wilderness miles with the same two horses.

Since that first thru-ride adventure, Gillian has embraced an ethos of long-distance wilderness equestrian travel that blends a love of the outdoors with respect and care for her amazing equine partners. Her herd has recently evolved to include a Percheron-cross mule, an Arabian mare, three Quarter horses, and three Morgan fillies, but she maintains her focus on learning how to navigate the many challenges of wilderness riding and sharing this information with others who long to explore backcountry trails on horseback.

Her passion for the animals she works with and her love of the outdoors and seeing nature from a different perspective keep her always looking ahead towards the next trail.


Where is it happening?

Lopez Lake Recreation Area, 6800 Lopez Drive, Arroyo Grande, United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:


USD 30.00 to USD 465.00

Gillian Larson Wilderness Horsemanship

Host or Publisher Gillian Larson Wilderness Horsemanship

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