This subject came up some time back on a message board I'm on, and here's my rather lengthy reply:
Ask 10 woodsmen this and you'll get a dozen different answers, the things you carry are as personal as underwear. After 20 years of search and rescue, I've got it distilled down to what works for me...
For Day Rides:
The one thing I never leave camp without is a pocketFUL of toilet paper.
On my PERSON, in case the horse leaves without me: cell phone, service is sketchy but I might get lucky, a large green trash bag as a make-do rain coat or shelter, compass and maps of the area; a sharp pocket knife, and my fire kit- 2 tealight candles, wax paper, a piece of aluminum foil (both folded small), lighter AND waterproof matches (in case the lighter doesn't work), quart sized ziplock baggie (as a make-do water container) and water purification tablets (as a LAST resort- yuck!). The fire making stuff fits inside a snack sized ziplock baggie. I carry a firearm as well. (Have a concealed carry permit.)
My first aid kit contains: bandaids, vet wrap squished flat, 2 maxi pads, apart from the obvious use, they make great trauma pads. Occasionally a he-man refuses to be bandaged with one, in which case I assure him when he's too weak from blood loss to fight he will be sent to the ER with one on the wound and one taped to his forehead, head wound or not, several individually packaged 4x4 gauze pads; 1/2 roll of silk tape; a lip-balm sized tube of vaseline (can be smeared on gauze and covered w/wax paper for an occlusive dressing, also smear on forming blisters), benedryl tabs, asprin 325mg tabs; tylenol tabs, bug repellent wipes, small packets of neosporin, alcohol preps and betadine preps. I also carry a small flask of whiskey, the generous internal application of which once allowed me to ride 1/2 day out to the trail head w/ 3 broken toes.
Both those kits (except for the flask) fit inside two 4x6" nylon zip pouches that weigh a few ounces and either clip to a beltloop or fit on a belt. I'm not comfortable riding w/a fanny pack.
My saddlebags have space attached for water bottles, and in the bottom of them you'll find an 8'x10' thin plastic drop cloth, 25' nylon rope, 10' of duck tape wrapped around a toothpick to decrease size, several plastic zip ties, and a gerber multi-tool. A.K.A Leatherman tool and a tin cup. (Stuff fits inside it to decrease size). My horse is barefoot, so I don't have to worry about farrier-type supplies.
Over Night Trips:
I use a cantle bag and add my 2lb backpacking tent, 3 season down sleeping bag, extra water bottles, change of clothing and food. Food stuff is pretty much individual preference, but I always carry cookies or granola bars which can be shared with the horse (Think bribe). I'm still wondering why I can't pack this light when I drive-in camp.
The key is to carry lightweight things that can do multiple duty. DON'T forget your brain, the most useful tool you've got with you in an emergency if you use it.
Nice to have: camera, riding buddy, folding saw, a large vocabulary of expletives and someone who'll notice if you don't come in on time.
Peggy Morgan resides in Kentucky and has been an ACTHA member since 2010. Not every item on Peggy's list is appropriate for an ACTHA ride, but for those times when you are not set out to compete on the ACTHA trails, keep Peggy's list in mind for items you might pack for safety and preparation, and enjoy the ride!