Addressing the points you raise. Financially, I shouldn't have a problem, but I would like to discuss at some time how to budget for the taking care of a horse while always on the move. Allison, I have looked at panniers. I understand it's no tack shop, but there is a Cabella's near by, and I have been looking at what they offer.
A few sources of horse packing supplies. Outfitters Supply Horse Packing Equipment High Country Supply - Discount Horse and Mule Packing, Camping, and Hunting Equipment. Horse Packing Gear and Outfitter Supplies
The idea of positioning myself to ride also is interesting. I really hadn't considered it. The first drastic change I'm going to go through is losing the ability to walk. The exercise I would get from doing will help postpone that from happening.
A good group to contact about horses and people with muscle loss problems would be a therapeutic riding program. They are all over the place, but you'll have to search your area. They will have all kinds of advice on dealing with mobility problems with horses. Therapeutic Riding Programs
Here's where I'm at. I'm going to be 57 soon. My youngest daughter, 27, has been working for the Humane Society and similar organizations for a long time. She has recently started veterinary school. For obvious personal reasons, we have so far kept this between us, but she has helped me through her contacts and found horses and tack that has been offered to me at no cost. Indirectly she has given me lists of over a hundred horses of various ages, sexes and conditions that are available. Mostly because of the economy. So far I haven't done nothing beyond think about this and talk to her about it. She's got a good heart, but she's not a lot of help. She's a cat, dog, hampster person. She has no real experience with large animals either.
Choose your horse carefully. You will need a horse with a long fuse. One that doesn't surprise easily. If you will have progressive mobility problems, you will not want a horse who panics easily needing very quick reaction times from you. Older horses are often, but not always, a better option.
The kind of questions I have I assume most who read this will think of naturally. Will a book go over information I'm completely ignorant of like how much weight can a horse carry. How much of that weight needs to be dedicated to the care of the horse. Most of this information I assume will be easy to come by? Am I wrong?
Books will help, but you need to feel very comfortable around a horse, and only experience will do that. Once you get set up, take day trips around your area. If you will be keeping the horse at a boarding facility, pick one with lots of land you can practice camping on.
How much weight they can carry depends on the terrain and the kind of weight. Rough terrain will cut things down a bit. Dead weight, as in supplies, are harder to carry than a rider. Different horses will also have different weight capacities.
Right now I concerned about the simple stuff though. For most people, horses aren't the typical pet, and I don't know much about them. Do horses make good friends? I don't think I would enjoy owning a "tool." Are they like dogs or more like cats? Something altogether different? How do you judge your first impressions with a horse? How do you know how a horse is sizing you up? I know horses can be everything from laid back to very high strung.
You will never get a "dog" or "cat" friendship from a horse. Most of our companion pets are predators, like us. We have a mutual respect and cooperation based on the basic level. Horses are prey animals and, while they depend on us and often like us, you just don't get that level of companionship from them.
Miss Colors, you've brought up almost the same thoughts as mine. Pick a horse, stable it for now and spend as much time as I can with it. How much time do you spend with a horse before choosing one? I don't plan on following roads, but I don't plan to stick to trails either so roads are unavoidable. Does a horse feel safe walking along a road if it's necessary? Can an older horse be trained to be comfortable around cars and trucks? What about guns? Can horses be gun shy like dogs? How do you know this stuff?
Horses can get used to roads, but they need time for that. I would recommend staying near populated areas. You will be able to resupply easily and will need to carry fewer provisions. Horses can be very good around traffic, as long as you spend time getting them comfortable with cars and trucks. Shooting around horses also takes specific training. Some horses will never learn to tolerate gunshots, some will take to it easily. Totally depends on the horse and its previous history. The only way to know is try a prospective horses reaction with sudden noises.
I hope I don't sound like I'm rambling. There are just so many questions, and I'm not sure where to start, I don't want to burden anyone with my ignorance, and I sure don't want to wear out a welcome. Thanks again.
Again, work any horse you get into this slowly. Practice in areas near home to get a feel of it all.