Caribou Gear

Building a barn and getting horses.

The last number of years, maybe 8 or so, I have used borium shoes with snow pads while elk hunting. The traction on icy rocky trails is very reassuring. The snow pads do a great job keeping snow from balling up on the horse's feet. At first I was concerned that the snow pads might make thrush more of a problem, but so far so good on that.

It's quite possible that I am the only person using a trooper saddle for big game hunting. They are the saddle of choice for most field trialers, but rarely outside of that. They are comfortable for long hours in the saddle, have an abundance of rings to hang things on the saddle. Even lacking a saddle horn, a roll up saddle pannier fits easily over the pommel and cantle. The saddle also normally comes with oversized hooded stirrups.

I've not used breechings but often use a crupper in riding if steep country. Maybe that isn't always needed either, as I have forgotten to use them and the saddle stayed put.
 
The last number of years, maybe 8 or so, I have used borium shoes with snow pads while elk hunting. The traction on icy rocky trails is very reassuring. The snow pads do a great job keeping snow from balling up on the horse's feet. At first I was concerned that the snow pads might make thrush more of a problem, but so far so good on that.

It's quite possible that I am the only person using a trooper saddle for big game hunting. They are the saddle of choice for most field trialers, but rarely outside of that. They are comfortable for long hours in the saddle, have an abundance of rings to hang things on the saddle. Even lacking a saddle horn, a roll up saddle pannier fits easily over the pommel and cantle.

I've not used breechings but often use a crupper in riding if steep country. Maybe that isn't always needed either, as I have forgotten to use them and the saddle stayed put.
We didn't have any of that. Dragged a few whole in the snow. I remember trips into the mountains when the four horse trailer and truck were chained. I was too young to be scared I guess. Drive those same roads today 30 years later. mtmuley
 
The last number of years, maybe 8 or so, I have used borium shoes with snow pads while elk hunting. The traction on icy rocky trails is very reassuring. The snow pads do a great job keeping snow from balling up on the horse's feet. At first I was concerned that the snow pads might make thrush more of a problem, but so far so good on that.

It's quite possible that I am the only person using a trooper saddle for big game hunting. They are the saddle of choice for most field trialers, but rarely outside of that. They are comfortable for long hours in the saddle, have an abundance of rings to hang things on the saddle. Even lacking a saddle horn, a roll up saddle pannier fits easily over the pommel and cantle. The saddle also normally comes with oversized hooded stirrups.

I've not used breechings but often use a crupper in riding if steep country. Maybe that isn't always needed either, as I have forgotten to use them and the saddle stayed put.
I have a buddy whose mother rode nothing but old McClellan Cavalry saddles. She swore they were the most comfortable saddle ever made.
 
I literally know nothing about horses really. I rode 21 miles in the Jackson Elk Refuge when I was a kid… felt it for a week. Ever since then I’ve wanted to learn all I can, and still haven’t met anyone that’d teach me, hands on. I’ve offered my hand in labor to learn as pay… I’m trying to soak every bit of this up but much of it is over my head..

good luck @Southern Elk and when it’s all done maybe you can teach me a thing or two!! I’m a registered contractor also and I’d love to help if you need! Looking forward to following along partner!
 
I’ve got a whopping 3 years of experience, but man have I learned a lot in that time span.

Agree with above, disposition > confirmation. If it has a good mind, idc if it has one eye and 3 legs. If you take your animals scouting 5 times a summer and on 5 hunting trips in the fall, you won’t wear down any healthy horse or mule. No weekend warrior puts enough miles on them for it to matter. That’s an issue for outfitters and ranchers, where they are legitimately being ridden 5 days a week.

Lessons:
Bells/name tags on at all times
Britchins: mandatory on all mules and horses with low withers
Back cinch: tighter on mules
Vicks vapor rub!
1/4” sisal too thick for breakaways, use bailing twine
Use thick 1” or 1.5” electric tape, 2 strand if possible
Snowshoes on packed snow are like ice skates, use the rubber pad inserts with brazed borium or screw in cleats

Mules: worth every penny, spend the money on good ones. I’ve got 1 horse and 1 mule. My next animal will be another mule, no question! Despite the hard lessons learned, I love every minute of it. There’s just something about being in a saddle in the mountains, it’s magic.

A few pics from these last 3 years:
 
Man, we found this out the hard way. Cutting one strand works too.

Bella are awesome. Sleigh bells are more pleasing to the ear.

Loud bells are pleasing when you’re looking for your lost horses, like my dumbass 😂

Ouch! Idk why most of the packing books recommend 1/4” sisal. Cut one strand as JLS mentioned or use twine.
 
One thing I’m thinking about is if it’s a good idea to go back east and buy horses because they are much cheaper. Back in MS, where I’m from, you can buy good horses for $1,000. That same horse would cost you at least $5,000 here. You could buy a trailer load for what one would cost you here. The only issue I see is that you likely won’t find any draft crosses, if that’s what your looking for. If one doesn’t work out, I could probably sell them here and double my money.
 
One thing I’m thinking about is if it’s a good idea to go back east and buy horses because they are much cheaper. Back in MS, where I’m from, you can buy good horses for $1,000. That same horse would cost you at least $5,000 here. You could buy a trailer load for what one would cost you here. The only issue I see is that you likely won’t find any draft crosses, if that’s what your looking for. If one doesn’t work out, I could probably sell them here and double my money.
Yes! Even the Dakotas or eastern Montana or eastern Colorado
 
One thing I’m thinking about is if it’s a good idea to go back east and buy horses because they are much cheaper. Back in MS, where I’m from, you can buy good horses for $1,000. That same horse would cost you at least $5,000 here. You could buy a trailer load for what one would cost you here. The only issue I see is that you likely won’t find any draft crosses, if that’s what your looking for. If one doesn’t work out, I could probably sell them here and double my money.

I’ve thought about this too. In one of those episodes Clay Newcomb brought this up. I think it’s a bit of the John Dutton Yellowstone affect and that people want good stock out here for these steep trails, which makes sense. I’ve seen listings for good looking mules for 5k in MO, MI, KY and OK. Good mules here are 10-20k all day long.
 
A few opinions:

Regarding the price of a horse, within reason, whether you spend 5 grand, 10 grand or 1 grand for a horse, the larger share of the horse's expense is just providing for its care thru the years. Every purchase requires some leap of faith. Is the horse truly healthy and sound? Is there something about its behavior that I don't realize? Does it get along with other horses? Yada yada.

Everyone has individual reasons and wants from their animal. I have at times heard that people don't want a gaited horse for the mountains. The most common rap I hear is that they are not sure footed enough. That is entirely not true in my experience. Knock on wood, I have never had one trip or stumble that caused any sort of wreck. I have never had a wreck in the mountains, to date. Now they will walk faster than a non gaited animal. Smoke Elser's video would not have been titled 3 Miles an Hour if he had always used gaited stock. I can more easily slow a TWH down than a rider of a non gaited animal can get their animal to walk out at 5 or 6 mph when the conditions allow. One of my fondest memories of Smokey, the horse in the avatar, was a ride in YNP. I had hoped to ride the Bighorn Pass trail to the pass starting from east to west. I had some difficulty finding exactly were to start, so I went to the Fawn Pass trail. I was giving myself three hours to ride to the pass and back, before sunset. After 90 minutes, we were short of the pass, so I decided to give it another 10 minutes. We still did not reach the pass, but we were 10 miles in according to the GPS. That 20 mile ride took Smokey 3 hours and 20 minutes. That is a 6 mph average, including drinks for him and me stopping to look for elk, moose, grizzly bears, whatever. He was the fastest walking horse I have owned, two others close to as fast, one can walk 6mph for his top speed.

Horses are better, the more they are used. For one, they become physically fit if ridden regularly. It is not fair to a horse to ask it to carry you into the mountains if it isn't. I suspect there is a sweet spot for how many animals a person can devote enough time to to get them in good shape and ridden enough to be well broke. Presently, I try to get two of them into shape. That takes giving them each a couple of rides a week, for a good number of weeks.

One reason that stock out here is so expensive is that an animal that is well proven to be safe in the mountains is worth something. An animal that acts up on level open country, might not even result in a bad wreck. If they do the same thing in the mountains, it will result in a wreck.
 
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