Gave up on camping without a pack horse - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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Gave up on camping without a pack horse

Since I started riding last fall I figured I could go "backpack lite" camping with my horse and carry everything I need on him. One small problem: it doesn't all fit. It all fits in the luggage I have for him, but it's such an unstable load that I'm not sure it's worth it.

It'd be fine for an overnight, maybe a weekend, but for a longer trip? Forget it. Of course, part of the problem is that now I'm older than I once was and insist on more Creature Comforts, even when camping.

So, a pack horse is in the works. Hopefully this coming weekend I'll be getting a 4 horse trailer so I have room to haul a pack horse along with our two saddle horses. Mrs. Thinks that our little Arabian can make a fine pack horse, with some training. He's 25 years old so he's pretty settled down but he still seems to have plenty of energy and endurance. Last weekend he carried a friend (200 pounds total load) for 8 miles up and down hills, mostly in the snow. A 150 pound pack should be no problem for him--especially without the snow!

So, time to start training him. As soon as we can haul three horses to the trailhead we'll start with his riding saddle and some loaded saddle bags and see how well he ponies on a trail. If he seems to be working out, we'll get a Decker pack saddle and panniers and try to have him ready for a serious trip by early summer.

'Cause one way or another, I'm taking some serious pack trips this summer!

"Don't just feed it! Ride it!" And the People said "AMEN!"
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post #2 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 02:29 PM
QOS
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LOL yeah....SailorGriz...you have to haul a bunch of stuff to camp overnight...food for man and beast, bedding, extra stuff in case something breaks. Before you know it you have a bazillion pounds of stuff.

The Arabian should be able to do just fine. Those are some tough little buggers...and they can just go and go.

I am older too...I know what you mean about creature comforts...I need them myself. We take a little window unit when we camp out at Ebenezer because we don't have a LQ trailer!! We put it in the groom door of the Brenderup and put up plastic with duct tape! LOL of course it is BLAZING hot in Texas and I am a wienie!!!

Post a picture of that horse when you pack him up!!

Enjoying my Garmin and mapping trails
Visit my trail riding blog at
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post #3 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 06:40 PM
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I use a lot of the Saddle Panniers that you just throw over a riding saddle. No you can't carry as much as a good decker saddle. But they work. Having 3 daughters who often went with me and not wanting to take 6-7 horses, We often packed two horses, I would lead and my daughters hike. Once camp was set up, we still had enough horses with riding saddles for us to take day ride out and back from the camp site. I also use the same paniers when I'm elk and deer hunting, they roll up and we tie them behind the cantle. Ride all day for the hunt, when we harvest something, We load it into the panniers and lead the horse back to camp or the truck.

Not suggesting this is the only way to go. But panniers do offer some versitility vs a dedicated pack saddle. Plus they are only a $100.

I've never had much trouble teaching any of the horses to be a pack horse. Put the saddle on, throw the pannier over the top and drop in a couple of salt blocks and haul them up and place them for the deer and elk, or put my chain saw, some fuel and gear in the opposite side and go clear dead falls off the spring trails. Horse gets used to the packs and the chain saw noise during the same trip and the trail riders the rest of the summer say thanks for the cleared trails. If you have horse that cuts too close to trees, tie a couple of old tires on the saddle and let him bang into trees with the tires. They learn real quick to go wide.

My daughter with a pack horse using panniers




As much as I hate to admit this bad habit. I do frequently just turn my pack horse loose and let it follow on it own. The personality of the horse will determine if this is acceptable for you. You don't want horses that fight and kick to maintain position along the trail, nor do I want to chase after a loose horse. But my horses started tagging along with me on rides when they were just babies and they 've learned to follow the leader down the trail. Having a horse that will stay in formation with out a lead rope, has it's advantages when the going gets rough and I need to give more spacing to deal with obsticles.


You can see a couple of yearlings following my daughters on this ride. They just run alongside like a hound dog, sniffing and checking things out, but in general staying close to moma. But in the end they learn to follow the leader.


Regardless of what style pack you choose. Having an extra horse along to will allow you to enjoy your trip more. You can take more food, better creature comforts for you, and not feel so overloaded on your riding horse. We easily get by with 1 pack horse for two campers and often do it with a 3:1 ratio. Have Fun
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post #4 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 06:48 PM
jdw
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorGriz View Post
Since I started riding last fall I figured I could go "backpack lite" camping with my horse and carry everything I need on him. One small problem: it doesn't all fit. It all fits in the luggage I have for him, but it's such an unstable load that I'm not sure it's worth it.

It'd be fine for an overnight, maybe a weekend, but for a longer trip? Forget it. Of course, part of the problem is that now I'm older than I once was and insist on more Creature Comforts, even when camping.

So, a pack horse is in the works. Hopefully this coming weekend I'll be getting a 4 horse trailer so I have room to haul a pack horse along with our two saddle horses. Mrs. Thinks that our little Arabian can make a fine pack horse, with some training. He's 25 years old so he's pretty settled down but he still seems to have plenty of energy and endurance. Last weekend he carried a friend (200 pounds total load) for 8 miles up and down hills, mostly in the snow. A 150 pound pack should be no problem for him--especially without the snow!

So, time to start training him. As soon as we can haul three horses to the trailhead we'll start with his riding saddle and some loaded saddle bags and see how well he ponies on a trail. If he seems to be working out, we'll get a Decker pack saddle and panniers and try to have him ready for a serious trip by early summer.

'Cause one way or another, I'm taking some serious pack trips this summer!
Man, this is AWESOME!!! I have always wanted to do that, and I am thrilled for you both!! Please share some info afterwards and even during the training. Very interested in doing this myself!!

Great riding!!

"If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys." - Chief Dan George
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post #5 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 09:59 PM Thread Starter
Weanling
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Idaho
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Painted, I've considered using saddle panniers but all the Mrs. Saddles are custom English jobs and she refuses to even consider putting panniers on them. Not that panniers are that great on English saddles, anyway.

The little Arab was the Mrs. Riding horse back in the day. She still rides him occasionally for short trips but he's really not big enough for her now. He really wasn't ever big enough for her but time and gravity have taken a toll and now he's less big enough, if you catch my drift.

So, I figure I might as well get a Decker and do it up right. I'll still go with panniers, not manties, as they'll be easier to pack and load. I'll get sturdy canvas panniers and put in a wood bottom and wood for the large sides so the whole thing stays "square" when loaded. I could get inserts, which would be fine for packing, but the wood slab becomes an instant table at camp with the addition of some screw in legs. Creature comforts, don't cha know!

I hope to get the trailer this next weekend and start taking/training the little Arab. Then get the Decker in a month or three and be ready for week long trip into the Gospel Hump Wilderness Area in early June. Have to keep to the low elevations due to snow that early. I'll hit the high country later!

Heck, I might even get out the camera and challenge you to a photo duel!

"Don't just feed it! Ride it!" And the People said "AMEN!"
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post #6 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 10:15 PM
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I am so jealous of you. Green with envy. Camping with my horse is my end goal. I wish you all lived closer. You'd have another tag-a-long! *Sigh* off to daydream.

Seriously I'd like to friend you so I can pick your brain. Is that okay?

"And God took a handful of southerly wind, blew His breath over it and created the horse."
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post #7 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 10:24 PM Thread Starter
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Always, Workman! That's what we're here for! It's why I start threads like this--so I, and all of us, can learn! Just ask away and between us all we might have answers. Heck, might even have some answers that make sense are are reasonably close to right!

"Don't just feed it! Ride it!" And the People said "AMEN!"
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post #8 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 10:35 PM
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The recommended weight for a pack horse is 100lbs. The reason being a 200lb rider isn't dead weight, but moves with the movement of the horse. The pack horse is carrying dead weight so 100 lbs, is plenty and it must be carefully weighed so the weight is evenly distributed. If you get a lightweight army hammock they weigh less than a pound and provide all the shelter you need. It comes with a "roof". Sure beats a tent and mattress.
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post #9 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 10:53 PM Thread Starter
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Saddlebag, yours is the lowest estimate I've seen. Most sources say 20% of animal weight for packing, 30% for riding. That's total load including tack. And assuming the horse is in good shape.

I'm figuring on no more than 100 pounds of gear on the Little Arab, plus tack. He's not a big horse at about 800 pounds. At 100 pounds of gear and about 40 pounds of tack he'll still be well under 20%.

Extra gear can be carried on the saddle horses, if needed. At a minimum I figure to carry anything I need during the day on Mr. Big so I don't have to open the packs on the Arab.

I just got a Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro hammock and have a nice tarp to put over it. I should be all set for when the Mrs. Isn't along. When she's along we'll have to have a tent and big air mattress. Just 'cause we're camping don't mean we don't want to snuggle at night!

"Don't just feed it! Ride it!" And the People said "AMEN!"
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post #10 of 85 Old 03-26-2011, 11:31 PM
QOS
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SailorGriz that sounds like way too much fun. I wish we could do that! LOL I made reservations at Kisatchie National Forest near Alexandria, Louisiana for Memorial Day. I will be camping in a travel trailer - LOL told you I was a wienie

Enjoying my Garmin and mapping trails
Visit my trail riding blog at
dashingbigred.blogspot.com
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