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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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good points.

I've usually got too much stuff in the bed of the trucks to worry about trying to sleep in the bed. Hay bales, water jugs, chain saw, shovel and other tools that I don't want to take time to remove. So we either sleep in the gooseneck or pitch a tent.

Four horses that can each drink 10 gallons a day, go through a lot of water. I got some 15 gallon mini drums from a local dairy farmer. The disinfectant that they run through the milker comes in these and he throws a couple away each month. 15 gallons is about 120lbs. So they are heavy, but a person can move them if needed. at camp, I roll one to the tail gate and open the valve. Best of all they are free. Even if I don't need the water for the horses, I still use these for water for me to bath in, wash dishes etc. And I like to have water in the truck in case we get stuck in traffic on a hot summer day. It's only happened once to me, But sitting 3 hours on the freeway in 100* temps because of a traffic accident up ahead will make you a believer.

We use the electric fences a lot in the wilderness. But we always highline at night. Too many mornings I've gotten up to find that elk have run through the meadow and knocked down the hot wire. I also carry hobbles on my saddle, We often hobble the horses while we take a lunch break.

I often use my horses rain sheets as covers for my pack saddles. Keeps my gear dry on the ride in and helps the horses ward off mountain chills at night. I also use a canvas mantee as a drop cloth, to cover saddles at night, and even on a few occassion to dry off after a dip in mountain lake.

I keep one of those LED headlamps in my gear. They don't throw a strong beam for a long distance. But they do provide some light and the batteries last 300-400 hours. So even if I accidently leave it on or it gets switched on in the pack, it won't go dead in a few hours. These are not bright enough to go find a lost horse, But they are enough light to adjust a highline in the middle of the night, to gather some firewood after dark, or see branches before they hit you in face if you ride after dark.

I always pack a lightweight rain jacket. At 10,000 foot elevation, Getting wet, means getting hypothermic and mountain thundershowers can slip in anyday in the high country. I often cut off the leg from a pair of deniem blue jeans. I then pull the slicker through the leg. Then tie it behind the cantle. The deniem protects the lighter nylon from getting caught on or torn by thorns as your ride through the brambles or oak brush.
 

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Seems like this is for the sort of camping where you drive to a campsite, ride out from there during the day, and return every night. How about when you're on a longer ride, and need to pack everything to your camping place on the horses?

Oh, and I second the LED headlamps. So nice to be able to use both hands, and the newer ones keep getting brighter.
 

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We pack two types of tents. The smaller more compact dome tents for the summer months. These work well if you are moving camp every day. They set up in smaller locations. Disadvantage is no stove and usually no room for cots.


In the fall for hunting, we use canvas wall tents. These are much heavier, bulkier and take more time to set up. Because of their size, they need a bigger spot to set up. I rarely carry the poles for mine, So I have to find trees to string center guy wire between, or cut down trees to make the Xs and the center beam. But their comfort can not be beat. We put a cylinder stove in ours, 4-5 cots and everybody sleeps very warm even on the coldest of October nights. We usually use these tents when we will set them up and leave them for a week or two. We often have to make multiple trips in to haul all the gear. One trip hauling gear in, 2nd trip hauling feed for the horses. October at 9000 foot doesn't have much feed left on the mountain. Trips back out usually include one to haul gear and 2nd to haul out the deer or elk we have harvested.

 

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That's what I was trying to show. There is a difference depending on the season and what level of comfort you expect. During the warmer summer months we will use one pack horse for 2-3 people. During the cold months we haul in more stuff so we can be comfortable. This sometimes requires a one to one or two to one ratio of pack horses to sadde horses.

I've spent too many a night at 9000 foot with two feet of snow and temps of 10* to not bring in the stuff that makes the weekend enjoyable.


This photo was taken at 10000 foot on the last saturday of August. We didn't bring in all our winter camping gear and we ended up hudled under a tarp to stay dry with this late summer snow.


In this photo, I'm using over the saddle panniers because I had rode the horse in. On the trip out the white horse is packing my camp, sleeping bags etc, while the sorrel ( my riding horse) is packing out the elk that I shot. I'm walking for this trip off the mountain. Better to walk one way than have to make a round trip to go get what you could not pack on a single horse.



The beauty of horse packing, is that you can do both. Pack very light or haul as many creature comforts as you need. There is no rule that says you can't take the exact same stuff with you that you haul on your touring bike. And there are times when I day ride from the truck/trailer and leave everything at the trailer as Trails has done in the original post.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm more used to "camping" as backpacking or bike touring. Or on my rare visits to wetter parts of the world, what can be hauled in a canoe or kayak. Anyone do this sort of thing with horses?
My article was primarily about camping from an established base and then heading out for day rides while Painted Horse is referencing more of packing in with stock.

If I'm reading you right you're asking about riding in and packing off of your riding horse. In my opinion the most important thing to remember when you try to ride and pack all of your gear on the same beast is weight.

While it may seem that our 1000+ pound beasts can haul lots and lots of gear as well as us; it simply isn't true.

Consider:
The weight of your saddle and other assorted tack - My saddle weighs about 60 pounds, add another 15 for bridle, reins, crupper etc. it totals about 75 pounds.

Your weight - I'm 170 lbs

Now add your camping gear
Shelter - I use a tarp - 2.5 lbs
Food - you and your horse - 5-8 lbs
Water - 3-4 lbs
1st aid kit 1 lbs

Now add the gear required for the horse
Highline rope - 5 lbs
Hobbles - 3 lbs
Curry brush 1 lbs
Ect.
I'm already over 260 pounds (Almost 30% of his body weight) - A lot to ask a 950 pound horse to haul. And this isn't even living well. There's no camp stove stove or other misc gear listed just the bare essentials.

Add to the raw weight issue the question of how you're going to distribute the gear on your horse. Too far back and you're putting pressure on his kidneys. Stack it too high (I've seen cantle bags 18+ inches tall) and you may get tangled if you have to bail off in an emergency.

With these logistical issues to address I generally day ride from the truck or hike and lead my horse when I go further into the backcountry.

Hope this helps and happy trails!
 

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Good point Trails. I never carry anything more than lunch with me on my ridding horse. I take that back. I do carry a rifle and glasses etc when I'm hunting or some fishing gear in the summer months. But I never load my any of my camp gear on the horse I ride. If I'm staying overnight in the back country. I take a pack horse.

I do a lot of day rides from the trailer. We like to head up Friday and do an evening ride, Stay the night in the trailer, ride saturday and head home. Plus if I camp at the trailer, it's easy to bring a dutch oven, a camp stove etc to cook on.
 

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If I'm reading you right you're asking about riding in and packing off of your riding horse. In my opinion the most important thing to remember when you try to ride and pack all of your gear on the same beast is weight.
You're right about what I was asking. And I do agree - at least from the depths of my ignorance - about the weight on the horse thing. Heck, I feel bad enough about asking the horse to carry my 200 lbs. My horse-savvy friend says she's a big, strong mare & well able to carry the load, but she looks dainty & delicate to me. I was cleaning her hooves the other day, and just happened to notice that her ankle bones (right above the hoof) are skinnier than my wrists :-(

The thing is, I wound up with this horse, and am now at the stage of looking for interesting things to do with a horse. The RV sort of motorized camping didn't appeal to me pre-horse, so I'm just wondering about options.
 

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James, What part of Northern Nevada are you in?
What breed of horse is it? Or I guess better what confirmation does it posses?

When I first got into horses, I asked much the same question. I got a horse so I could pack out deer and elk in the fall, I quickly learned that owning a horse was a 365 day per year committment. No ignoring it and just saddling up 10 days a year for hunting season. I didn't have cows, so I knew I wasn't going to practice roping, cutting team penning. I didn't have a large arena, so there was no room to become a dressage, reining or barrel racer. The young colt I ended up with had incredible stamina, and I liked the idea of seeing miles and miles of trails, So we tried Competitive Trail Riding and little endurance. I had a great time with these events and got to meet lots of fellow horse people, Many of whom I am still friends with.

After I learned alot of what I know about horses, I kinda burned out on all the travel to compete in CTR events. Got tired of judges critiqueing everything I did and decided I was just happy to go explore a new trail across the high country. My daughters also became my riding buddies about that time in my life. They were too young and unskilled to be competitive at CTR, they coudn't ride at the same speeds I did in endurance and I wasn't ready to ride off and hope they made it to the finish line, and of course having to pay entry fees for for 4 vs 1 influenced my decision. They had grown up enough that we could go spend a weekend together with the horses. Early on I didn't have enough horses to go around. So we would pack the horses and we would hike and lead the horses packing our gear into the high country. Later as I got more horses, We would camp at the trailer and day ride the various trails. This gave my teenage daughters a few more creature comforts and keep them coming with me.

Now they have left home for college, have part time jobs and dates with boys, I don't get them to come as often. I've returned to some of my early horse friends and we just enjoy a good trail ride. Some of my friends have become financially successful and have bought very expensive trailers. And they enjoy bringing them and using their equipment. Others are poor as church mice and we camp out and rough it when I join them. Regardless of which way I travel or camp. I still enjoy trail riding.


 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The RV sort of motorized camping didn't appeal to me pre-horse, so I'm just wondering about options.
The options are tremendous, Painted Horse has a great point in that you can go as luxurious or as bare bones as you like. I got into horses late in life and first tried polo (bad fit), then endurance (a little better), then found Mounted Search and Rescue which led me to camping with the beasts. The gear that horses require, and my lack of packing experience, preclude Painted Horses type of travel at this point, although I love the pics he sends and try to tag along on a couple of pack trips each year.

Prior to moving to WA we were to the purchase point for a gooseneck LQ. I'm VERY glad that the move changed those plans. We wouldn't be able to get into some of the more remote NFS areas that we visit with such a large trailer. Instead we go more the bare bones route and use a truck bed tent. It's must certainly not an luxury RV type camp experience! But it does allow us to get into tight places that a bigger rig might have trouble with.

Regarding your horse savvy friend and your horse - It's your horse; go with your gut feeling. If you do some searching you can find the old us cavalry guidelines. I believe they were no more than about 30% of a horses weight. When you consider that those beasts were in great condition, as opposed to our horses which work out say once, maybe twice a week, you can see where taking the load off will get you much further without a breakdown. I'm sure that your, and my, horses could carry a heavier load for a while, but eventually they'll break under the weight just as you and I would if asked to carry a bigger pack than what we should. I'll get off my soap box now.

Hope this helps open up the options to you.
 

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I've never camped with horses EVER! I've always wanted to though, but it just seems like it may be such a hassel. Although, we have brought 2 of our horses down south with us for the day and night and rode them all around the area. We had a small pasture put in and we let them run around in there for the remainder of the night and than round them up and head home. One time, before we had the pasture put in, my aunt actuallly let them go and they were running around freely! I'm like you actually let them lose, you are crazy!!! She said she got scared that they wouldn't come back because they were gone for a while so she grabbed some grain and shook it around in the bucket and they eventually came back. Has anyone ever done this? lol I would never do it, let alone let her do it if I were there.
 

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I don't grain my horses, So shaking a grain bucket would have no effect. They don't know what it is, so they are not going to come a running.

A fellow I rode with once. Used to bring a small nose bag on all his rides. At lunch he would shake the bag and had taught his horses that they got a treat of grain when he got the bag out. He would turn his horses loose on the mountain for lunch break. After lunch he would get his nose bag out and rattle the grain around. The horse would immediately lift their head from grazing and head to him. So if the horses have been trained to come, It works great if there isn't a greater temptation around.

Trails, It doesn't take a lot of equipment to get started packing. You can use your normal saddle and just buy a set of Saddle Pannier. These come in Canvas, cordura or Iron cloth. They retail for $100 to $150. I frequently use these during hunting season. I roll them up and tie them behind the cantle. We go hunting and if I shoot an elk, I un-roll them, throw them over the saddle, oad the meat into them and lead the horse back to the truck. This gives me the opportunity to ride the horse until I need to pack. But I do it all with a regular saddle.
 

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James, What part of Northern Nevada are you in?
I'm near Reno, right on the edge of the Sierra. The friends' place is actually just over the state line, in California. The good part is that we can just ride out from their place, and then could use dirt roads & tracks to get just about anywhere in the northern part of the Sierra, but the higher country is more than a 1-day ride.

What breed of horse is it? Or I guess better what confirmation does it posses?
Ellie's an Anglo-Arab. You can see her picture here:
http://www.horseforum.com/horses.php?horse=3703 The picture is from when we brought her home last fall, so she's a bit out of condition. She'd belonged to a friend of friend who'd gotten her for his girlfriend to ride. When the girlfriend split, Ellie just stayed in the pasture with his others for a couple of years.


Early on I didn't have enough horses to go around. So we would pack the horses and we would hike and lead the horses packing our gear into the high country.
Which is something I might enjoy doing. I'm not really competitive, but like to hike &c, and have been going along with friend & others on their trail rides for years - them riding, with me on foot. Was fun 'til they started making me carry the lunch & water bottles :-(
 

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Arabs do well at distance sports. So any of the distance sports is a possibility. Endurance, NATRC, Mounted Orienteering, Tie and Rides etc.

but it will boil down to what you enjoy, and where you have friends to join you. It's much more fun and you will do it more often if you have friends to go with you. There is nothing wrong with walking and leading your horse. With out a pack, you can easily walk as fast as most horses walk. And since you can load 100lbs to 150lbs on your horse, you can take some nice gear with you. Or maybe eat real food instead of dehydrated food on camp outs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Or maybe eat real food instead of dehydrated food on camp outs.
HA! the first time I went on an overnight pack trip I was told to pack light so I took my backpacking gear (light weight everything, freeze dried food, ultra light tarp instead of tent, tiny camp stove, etc. You get the idea). At our camp for the night while I dined on freeze dried goop out of a plastic bag my friends ate steak and potatoes. During the course of dinner one of the guys slapped me on the back and said "The horseman that doesn't live better than a hiker isn't worth his salt!" That's when I learned that packing "light" for that trip meant no dutch oven or cots since we only took one stock animal with us.

That was also the trip where the same guy made a PCT thru hiker cry with joy when he gave her a cold root beer. The first soda she'd had in 3 months of hiking from Mexico to Canada.

Here's a link to the pages detailing more of the route we took.

 

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Trails I can relate to that! One of my first pack trips wasn't much different. I still remember the lead cowboy pulling out a pot and cutting up carrots, potatos, onion and dumping in a can of chicken meat. Bringing it all to boil and we had Chicken and Dumplins at 10,000 foot. He packed the eggs in a Tupperware bowl of grain. The grain pads the eggs so they don't break. So we had real eggs and bacon for breakfast and the horses got grain.

I have forgotten all about Freeze Dried foods since I got horses. And yes I still sneek a Pepsi or two in for when I get tired of drinking purified lake water.
 
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