How to Have a Barn Sleepover

By The Plaid Horse Intern Olivia Stoeckel

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The Plaid Horse Instagram recently posted this photo of a Littlewood Farm barn sleepover, which generated much interest on how to have your own barn sleepover. Plaid Horse Intern and Littlewood Farm rider and sleepover participant Olivia Stoeckel walks us through the process. 

by Plaid Horse Intern Olivia Stoeckel

Everyone knows that barn friends are best friends, so it is impossible to have too much fun. The perfect way to have a fun weekend that includes both your friends and your horses is a barn sleepover.

I had never considered this idea to be a possibility until I was invited to one myself. I packed over a week in advance out of excitement, making sure I was completely prepared for any conditions that could get in the way. These are the necessities:

  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Toiletries
  • Riding pants and shirt (type dependent on weather)
  • Riding gear (boots, helmet, gloves, etc.)
  • Sneakers (or any shoes you can run around in)
  • Pants (jeans/leggings/sweatpants)
  • Layers (t-shirts/sweatshirts)
  • Pajamas
  • Anything you need for your horse (if it is not at your barn)

The next most important thing to do is plan what you will be doing. Prepare games, music, meals, and anything else that will keep you busy. As for games, I recommend something that gets you and all of your friends to participate and energized. This could include bareback or trail rides, western riding if you are an English rider, English riding if you are a western rider, or competitions with everyone. Fun things to try are horseless horse shows (jumping over small jumps on foot), apple bobbing, synchronized riding, relay races, and costume competitions (including your horse!).

Of course you have to include time to hack or lesson the horses and take care of them, but after all of that is done, you’re going to be hungry. Small snacks are going to be important throughout the day, and some favorites are chips, candy, and homemade treats from all of the riders! Remember that snacks may not completely satisfy everyone for the whole time, so plan on some meals. Simple things like toaster waffles or cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pizza for dinner tend to make people happy without being difficult to provide. As for dessert, you can never go wrong with ice cream. Bring a bunch of toppings and create whatever masterpiece will finish off your perfect day.

As all the sugar and adrenaline fills your bodies before bedtime, you may need to play some more games to tire everyone out. One of the best games is Ghost in the Graveyard which you play outside in the dark. Everyone hides while the seeker has a flashlight to help them. Everyone tries to run to base before they get tagged by the person who is it. Hopefully this will get the energy out of everyone once it is time to go to sleep. You can set up your sleeping bags and pillows in the tack room or even in front of your horse’s stalls. If you do choose to sleep near your horse, remember they may be interested in you, their new roommates, and looking for treats. Despite their noise and smells, I recommend this option because it’s an experience like no other and even though they may wake you up early looking for breakfast, it is worth the bonding time.

This sleepover is meant to bring you closer to your friends and your horses, so be sure to spend more time focusing on them rather than your phones. Remember to have fun and take advantage of the time you are given at the barn. The best way to have the most fun is to make sure everyone else is also having fun and feels included. After this, you will become closer with distant friends and most definitely feel a stronger bond with your horse.

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The Plaid Horse Deco Pony Tote is the perfect bag to pack for your barn sleepover! Olivia Stoeckel photographed by Andrew Ryback Photography.