Training a horse to pack?

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by NaeNae, Aug 9, 2018 at 1:51 PM.

  1. NaeNae

    NaeNae Senior Member

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    Wondering if anyone has any experience on training a horse to pack?

    Tossing around the idea of doing a few day trips locally with Katie to see how she would be in the bush with the possibility of bringing her on an easy hunting trip or two next year.

    I have the option of getting her into a local power line cut that we commonly hike, gravel about 1-2km of forest to the power line and then an 8km hike up a gravel road to the peak with the option to continue on down the other side for a good 8-12km. We typically just do the 8km up and back down.
    I also am toying with the option of taking her to our favorite mule deer hunting spot next year in the off season. About 3 hours away, a little valley with tree shelter that we camp in and then easy rolling hills and mountains of crown land where we typically hike and glass for deer.

    I'd have the option of either bringing a mini friend or a mini donkey friend along for company as I don't want to take her alone.

    She is hobble trained and ties. Has been on an overnight camping trip before and did wonderfully. Can ride into water without issue. Didn't used to like to stand tied, would just dance, but her summer of working for the trail riding dude string has really helped that, she now knows that when she's tied, it's quiet time. She's got extremely tough sturdy feet barefoot, and shoes well, so I'm not worried about her being sound with a full set on. She's been used as a therapy horse and had introduction to driving training, is used to things flapping at her, being thrown, hanging off of, in an arena. Would need to do more exposure in the bush to see how she'd be. Also need to teach her to highline.

    I have no packing equipment, so that would need to be purchased, and I can learn to use it and rig from local back country horsemen.There are people who have hosted talks and clinics on such things, that I have sat in on before, so I know I have access to that. I'd like to try and get myself on a pack trip with someone to see how it goes with experienced people, and would also love to try and find someone who might take Katie for a few trips and give her some experience.

    For a small day or single over night trip in easy terrain, I'm comfortable doing it and working with her myself. But for more true back country terrain and a longer trip, I obviously need more knowledge under my belt and Katie's cinch. She wouldn't be packing a lot of gear. We camp and hunt VERY light. If she DID one day make it to a real hunt trip, the most would be packing out a muley or white tail. But for a local practice day trip and/or single overnighter, it would basically just be saddle bags with tent (lightweight), stove (single burner hiking style stove), and minimal other gear. No more than 30 lbs. And we would walk with her, not ride.

    So anyone here have any experience or tips?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018 at 1:59 PM
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  2. Faster Horses

    Faster Horses Senior Member

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    @equinitis was just talking about packing the other day.
     
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  3. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    Good suggestion.


    Wish I could help, but I've never gone packing myself.
     
  4. NaeNae

    NaeNae Senior Member

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    I don’t even think what I plan on doing can really count as packing, more like a day hike with my horse hahaha.

    The BF wants her to pack into the back country for hunting, spurred by his mountain goat hunt this year. I told him no way are going getting her into alpine rock faces where mountain goats live. So we are instead going to aim for easy hikes/hunts. LOL
     
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  5. Fire Chik

    Fire Chik Senior Member

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    I have worked for an outfitter in the fall packing in spike camps for 8+ years.
    All of my horses learn to pack, many of them before I ride them. I start with getting them use to the pack saddle and rigging, ponying them along on rides with other horses. Then I add paniers and typically pack log rounds or something like that the first time, heavy enough they wont bounce and arent breakable.
    If you want to actually pack a horse for a trip I suggest finding someone that can teach you hands on. There are a lot of little quirks with packsaddles and getting your loads balances and secure. Learning to tie the lashropes and tarps if needed can be tricky.
     
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  6. stb_chance

    stb_chance Senior Member+

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    I am with Fire Chik, finding a good packer to help teach you is the way to go. I worked for an outfit in Yellowstone packing for several seasons and am comfortable training a horse to pack... it is the easiest job you can ask a horse to do, but tons of things can go wrong. We just did a packing clinic with my wrangler crew the other week. They loved it!

    My few pieces of advice would be: 1) The horse should be good with ropes before you pack. 2) Get your horse used to britching before you hit the trail. 3) Keep the packs balanced and desensitize for flappy objects/loud objects you may pack. The smell of meat can be scary for some.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I gained a healthy respect for packing by going on a little old 'easy ride' in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. I second the suggestion to take a class.
     
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  8. endurgirl

    endurgirl Senior Member

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    You're going to need a really big suitcase for your horse to pack all his necessities, like shoes, mane and tail shampoo and conditioner, fly spray and suntan lotion. A saddle and saddle pad for every occasion.
     
  9. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    I have enough trouble with my cats trying to pack for me! In and out of the suitcase, dead mice in my unmentionables, fur everywhere....

    I shudder to think what Bella would consider necessary! :p
     
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  10. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    Ditto getting help. Buy good gear, not cheap gear. Buy a scale and use it. You will underestimate how much things weigh.
    Start slow and light then build up. We use feed bags with sand so we can be sure they are balanced and can increase the weight easily.
     

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