I'm training two! Minina, a pony of 13.1hh (not as butt-high as she looks in this photo; her front feet are in a hole that she's just been digging...)
and Canelo, a Percheron cross of around 14.2hh:
Neither has packed before. Being from the UK, and the horses being in Chile, I've had to depend a lot on books and various out-of-the-way websites. I have used these books a lot: Blue Creek Outfitting book Le site officiel d'Emile Brager, cavalier au long cours - Le livre "Techniques du voyage cheval"
and I have found some useful things on the websites for Outfitters Supply (plus stalking them with questions by email). Useful knots are dealt with in the Blue Creek book, and I learned other ones from the internet.
We bought one pack-saddle and decided to make the other, in fact we more or less decided to buy one set of pack equipment, and manufacture the others according to our ideas.
This is Minina sporting the purchased pack saddle, home-made pack pad (not finished in this photo), home-rigged double girths and a breast-collar that isn't the final version (it was just doing service):
and Canelo in his rig at some point during its development (basic saddle bars adapted for pack-rigging; Y-straps for the girth; pack pad just getting started for size; purchased harness):
(please excuse nice poo-pile...
We started with basic leading and ground-work, moving hips over, mostly, and backing up. We practice ponying very often, since we have four horses to bring in and the top pasture is around a mile away. Generally, Minina will probably pony with Quillay, my boyfriend's riding horse, and Canelo will come along with Luna, my horse. Canelo is still learning that ponying with another horse doesn't mean 'lead from the front', but Minina is a gem.
We have packed both of them very lightly and I swear by taking them for long walks in woods: after a couple of times of running their bags into a tree and getting poked in the ribs, they pay more attention. We have loaded the packs with all kinds of things, including rattly metal things and rustly tarps.
I second making sure that the girths are done up properly: we first rigged Canelo with a double girth as Minina has in the photo above. He didn't move a muscle as we were tacking him up, even with pad flapping and straps flying everywhere. But as soon as we untied him and went to walk a few steps, he exploded, ripped the rope out of my boyfriend's hand, went on a bucking frenzy coming horribly close to the support posts of the house verandah - and the pick-up - and then galloped off in the direction of the woods and his pasture. Of course I had all the visions that everyone has - he'll wrap his foot in the rope and go flying, he'll try and roll to get the saddle off and he'll break his back, he'll get a branch caught between him and the saddle trying to rub it off and he'll lacerate his back, etc. etc. - but finally we just found him standing peacefully at the broken bridge that leads to his northern pasture. The saddle was still in place and just a few leaves here and there. He led back just fine and didn't give a problem since.
My next objective is to teach both of them to ground tie (in fact, all four of them) and to be OK with a top-tarp being thrown over to cover everything. Plus, we have to get better at our knots.