Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles? - Page 7

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Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles?

This is a discussion on Decker or Crossbuck pack saddles? within the Trail Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    02-06-2013, 09:24 AM
I kinda like the ideal of making my own saddle.I'm not so much into all the fancies like all this carving and such. To me that takes away the beauty of the saddle besides making a saddle harder to keep clean it says to me Look Look I can make little swirls
In the leather. I like the ideal that I can take a dead cow and a tree stump and make something so use full out of them.
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    02-06-2013, 02:38 PM
Making my own saddle is on my bucket list of things to do.
    02-08-2013, 10:04 PM
Can I get some opinions on this Decker-style pack saddle? It is fully adjustable, both for bar angle and gullet width. Seems like a good idea on the surface, but I'm not so sure. I would be concerned that the adjustable angle bars might allow movement of the load on the horse's back. You could end up with a pack saddle leaning to one side and the adjustable bars would allow it to ride that way, seems to me.

What do you think? Anybody used one like this?

The store front is Southern Missouri Mules at, which is a great site for packing gear, by the way.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Adjustable_decker.jpg (54.1 KB, 39 views)
    02-08-2013, 10:25 PM
That tree is made by Richland Yellowstone out of Sidney MT. I am not a fan at all of flex trees no matter who makes them. The problem with a flex tree is when you load them the bars no longer fit the animals back they flatten out and the weight of your load is no longer dispersed across the full bars length and width but only the top edge pressing into the animals back. You will see animals with white one horizontal lines runing along each side of the back these animals have been packed with flex trees.
    02-09-2013, 01:58 AM
Some friends and I were looking at a decker like that the other day. We thought the idea sounded cool. That it would adjust to fit individual horses. The more we thought about it we wondered if it would flatten out from the weight on the top or if it would pinch the horse from the weight hanging and pushing on the sides.
I don't think any of us will try it now seeing what traiheadsupply says about them.
I do kind of like the shape of the metal bars on it though. It looks like it would hold panniers like a sawbuck.
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    02-09-2013, 09:47 AM
That's what I was looking for. I figured the self-adjusting bar angle was not as good an idea as it appears to be. I'm still wondering about the adjustable hoops for gullet width.

I'm not sure you could keep those adjusting turnbuckles on the tops from twisting, even with the lock nuts, over a long trip. I think the idea is good, but I think they would need some sort of locking pins to ensure they did not twist and end up with one bar ahead of the other and a skewampus saddle. In the final analysis, I'm not sure there is sufficient need for this adjustment to justify it. I'm thinking that maybe it makes manufacture easier, so they promote it as "adjustable".
    02-09-2013, 10:09 AM
I noticed that Giles and Anna, who are members of our forum who are trekking across South America as we speak, have one pack saddle that has self-adjusting bars. They don't seem to be having any trouble with it, but they don't appear to be packing it as heavily as some pack animals I've seen (and packed). They don't appear to be using the Halfbreed with it either. They are using it more like a crossbuck pack saddle, which is ok, I guess. Don't know why it wouldn't be.

They also have another style pack saddle that I've never seen before, pictured below. I say I've never seen one before, but I missed one just like it that sold on ebay several weeks ago for about $25, because the owner didn't know what it was...I didn't either. Wasn't sure it was for a horse or mule, but thought maybe it was for a llama or something. Should have bought it.

You can find Giles and Anna's facebook page at "The Great Horse Trip".
Attached Images
File Type: jpg halfords packsaddle.jpg (53.6 KB, 34 views)
File Type: jpg halfords gear.jpg (76.0 KB, 34 views)
    02-09-2013, 10:59 AM
That packsaddle is a standard Chilean /Argentinian riding saddle frame (bars + cantle and pommel 'hoops') with modifications by us. Normally their saddles have more or less 7/8 rigging and a second surcingle-style cinch over the seat and overlapping the first.
We put new rings on so that we can use 'Y' rigging. Keeps the back of the saddle down on a horse who doesn't much like a belly cinch and who doesn't really have the shape for it either.
Second, because this saddle carries home-made pack slings, we added attachment points on the cantle and pommel arches so that we can clip the slings on directly. A second set of rings on the same arches allow us to put a light top load on the leather part of the saddle and secure it with two leather strings. The photo below doesn't show all of that in detail but does show the slings and the top load.
In terms of weight, that horse carries between forty and sixty kilos with a new load (he carries grain for the horses so his charge varies according to how much we find to buy) and it drops thereafter because the horses are eating between four and twelve kilos of it per day. As his load lightens, we transfer elements of the other horse's load to make things fairer. His top load rarely exceeds eight kilos.
The grain is carried in two waterproof cylindrical gear bags which have no protruding parts.
Although it's not as easy as with a 'proper' pack saddle, I've still loaded bales of hay using a barrel sling onto this saddle, and with minimum help (I'm 5'4" on a tall day).

The other horse (pony) uses an adjustable packsaddle. We can throw a barrel sling but apart from that we have no idea how to pack with ropes - our pack panniers 'hook' onto the Ts on the arches. The pony's load stays relatively constant, between 45 and 55 kilos, including a top load of maximum 12 kilos.
In terms of the swiveling bars, we have no problems with them. Bags are packed so as to have no hard objects on the horse side. No probs with sides either apart from one day when the pony had the trotting bug all day and had a pressure bump on one side of her ribs.

For both pack horses, we use a leather sweat-absorber directly on the back, a vetbed intermediate layer and a thick wool felt pad in a canvas cover. Given the weight we pack, we didn't see the need for side boards.

Ever four hours or so, the pack horses are unloaded for at least a half-hour.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg image.jpg (92.5 KB, 34 views)
    02-09-2013, 11:25 AM
If built right an adjustable pack saddle will be fine, if its not built right you have a nightmare on your hands. It's all in how the locking mechanism locks down.
    02-09-2013, 11:43 AM
Originally Posted by Darrin    
If built right an adjustable pack saddle will be fine, if its not built right you have a nightmare on your hands. It's all in how the locking mechanism locks down.
Do the self-adjusting bars lock in place as well? I thought they just sort of hinged and floated.

Thanks for the input, Anna. Your ears must have been itching! I've been keeping up with your trip. Great pictures!

Tell me a little more about the sweat leather you use under the pack saddle pads. I've never heard of that. I'd like to see a picture and learn how you use it, if it's not too much trouble. How are those McClellan saddles working out? I see they're getting that "used" patina. How do they do for long hours in the saddle?

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