Too bad you don't want saddle panniers. I have a really nice heavy canvas pair for sale. I used them for packing game in the Colorado rockies. We would roll them up and tie them behind the saddle, ride in, pack the meat and lead the horses out. They are really nice. I need to get a photo of them, but I don't have a western saddle at the moment. I also have two pairs of three way hobbles, if you are interested.
Some rockies pics;
This grey was my prelim event horse, before she sold
Griz, I'll never fault a guy for spending money and buying good equipment. Deckers or Sawbucks both offer a better system to pack with. And you are correct, the saddle panniers are designed to go over a western saddle.
We used some Utah bags with both the sawbucks and with hooks on the Deckers. They are great to just drop a quarter of an elk or moose in after butchering it. I like the canvas so I can just throw them in the river or a water trough and wash out the blood after packing the meat. The Utah Pack bags made from Iron Cloth are really durable.
I've also used some plastic boxes that we make into a table once we get to camp.
It always seemed like cruel punishment to be sticking a big rock in a pannier part way up the trail. But too often I'm packing with out a scale and if the load starts to not balance, I just get off and stuff a big rock in the light side. If the load continues to shift. I add another rock. Better to carry a few extra pounds of rocks than to have an unbalanced load.
The sorrel horse is carrying an elk and the grey horse has my camp on him
And I'm walking leading both.
I am blow away with your posts and pictures. How do you prepare a horse for long trail riding? Are their excersises you do at home? Or do you just get out and do local trail rides until your confident with their "trail calm." And how do you pack the horses food and water? Or do you allow foraging?
Painted is the Local Expert on this thread for packing but I'll toss in what I've read/heard.
To get the horse ready, RIDE it! Lots. Up and down. Over obstacles. Through creeks. I read one guy rode four hours a day for a month to get ready for a Rocky Mountain experience. I think he was from Texas.
We're lucky here. We have a 400+ foot hill across the road from us we can ride up and down to condition the horse. Well, we can once it dries out a bit. We also have Moscow Mt. Ten miles away and near-infinite miles of mountain trails within an hour. So, we have lots of local options for conditioning the horses.
As far as packing . . . I started packing like I was going packpacking--except in saddle and cantle bags. Then I added a few creature comforts. Then I decided it wouldn't make a stable load so I'm upgrading to a pack horse--which means lots more creature comforts! I've done enough camping to have a pretty good idea of what I NEED vs. what I WANT--and tend to lean pretty heavy on the "want" side.
Where I'm planning to pack you don't generally take in food/water for the horses. I've been told there's plenty of forage (sometimes you have to look for it) and plenty of water. IF I find out I was told wrong it'll just limit where I can go a bit, not a problem.
It really depends on where I go and what time of year.
Summer in the high country, I let the horse graze. I try to give them at least one hour in the morning and one hour in the eveing of grazing. I never grain my horses at home, But I do bring some grain on extendpack trips. The are working hard and never have enough time to graze enough feed. So I usually bring some. Put a layer of eggs in a Tupperware bowl, Cover in grain, put in another layer and cover in grain until the bowl is full. Snap on the lid. The grain prevents the eggs from breaking during the pack trip in and my horses get to eat the grain. If an egg breaks, my horses get a little extra protien.
Spring Rides in the desert, don't offer much from grazing. The horses could find enough if I just turned them loose. But the old saying is that it takes 300 acres of desert to feed a cow. I don't want my horses wandering that far off. So I always bring my own feed, and we typically camp at the trailer. I feed the horses in haynets or plastic tubs at the trailer
Summer trips we allow the horses to graze. In fact I often bring a roll of hot wire and section off large meadows and turn the horses out. By making the space large enough the Alpha horses won't beat up on the beta horses. It gives them room to get away from the other horses with out running through the fence. Here we have 19 horses in a meadow grazing while we set up camp
We typically set the fence up to include some water. But the Forest Service gave us a ticket last summer for that practice. The new rules say that any structure we stand ( which usually ment tents) has to be 200 yards away from any water. They interepet our fence as being a structure and ticket us.
I never leave the horses in the hot wire pasture over night. Deer and elk run thru it and the horse are loose.
We also try to include some trees in the enclosure so the horses can have shade or get out of the wind or storms. You can barely see the white fiberglass rod we set the hot wire up on the left
If I don't set up a hot wire, I at least hobble the horses and turn them out for an hour to graze
I used to spend the summers in Crested Butte Colorado as a pack guide for Fantasy Ranch. We did pack trips, mostly through the West Elk Wilderness. I also had event horses that I trained and showed in area 9. They packed and rode the trails in between shows.
We used three way hobbles during the daylight and then tied them to a high picket line at night. We packed grain, but allowed them to graze and water during the afternoons and breaks.
My favorite trip was a two day trip over the Pearl Pass into Aspen...a night in a hotel with a hot tub....shop the next day.....ride back over the Maroon Bells pass. This was for our less outdoorsy customers. Fun to spend a night in the big city
Waiting for a ride back to the ranch where the horses were kept in Aspen
Views from the Maroon Pass
In the fall I would pack out game. During the winter I worked for the ski area. I worked all that time as a medic for the fire dept and mountain search and rescue.
Another photo of horses out in the meadow with a hot wire around meadow.
A lot hunting trips in the fall, there just is no graze available for the horses. On these trips we often haul in our camp on the first load in. While my partner sets up camp I return to the truck and load the horse with bags of hay cubes. I load two 80 lb bags on each horse. I'm riding one horse and usually leading 4, So I can haul in about 650 lbs of feed. Cold weather and working hard at hunting we feed the horses heavy and that will last about 4 days.
So my answer to your question about feed for the horses, really depends on the season and location.
We always give the horses lots of opportunity to graze during distance ride. Afew minute for us to get off for a potty break or to read map, We let the horses eat.
And some times I just turn them loose and let them eat. I know my horse will chow down for about 1 hour. Any longer and I have to start watching them close. As long as their heads are down grazing, fine. But they start lifting their heads and looking around, its time collect them and tie them to something.
Horese near camp just free grazing
Here the snow has only been gone a few days and the grass just hasn't had time to grow. I still hobble and let the horse try to graze, It relieves their boredom. But his real feed will come from a bale of hay I hauled up on the trailer.
GREAT PICS!!!!!!! All of you.
I hope to use one of my horses as a pack horse. As long as I am close to home it is not much of a problem, but I only have a two horse trailer and if my wife or daughter goes with me, two horse trailer......two people....no room for a pack horse. I have two camp trips planned this year. One in the Adirondack mountains with my daughter on a 32 mile loop through the high peaks wilderness area, and the other in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Some friends invited me to go with them. Unfortunately I will not be able to bring my own horse. It is a 27 hour drive and much cheaper to fly out as opposed to driving out. I will have to UPS all my gear out to my friends.
I am hoping to do some other weekend camping trips from the trailer as well throughout the summer.
Threads like this are great education, and I love the pics. Keep them coming.