Horse packing question

SoTex

New member
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
57
I sold my horses about 5 years ago and have quite a bit of riding experience but I've never horse packed into the wilderness. We found a place to rent some horses and are planning on packing into the Wyoming unit 81. The plan is to saddle the horses with our regular riding saddles then strap a sea bag on each side of the animal then walk into spike camp which is about 4 miles. We could them offload the sea bags and set up camp and still have our saddles for riding. We're heading out in the next couple of weeks to a buddies ranch to test out the idea but I wanted some opinions about the idea. The hunt is still six months away and I'm already getting obsessed with the planning.
 

Topgun 30-06

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
3,773
Location
Allegan, MI
What ^ he said! We used the soft type on two different DIY trips in Wyoming. They are very inexpensive compared to the hard type shown in that link and will do the job fine as long as you know how to pack properly and make the weight equal on each side.
 

Festus

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 13, 2012
Messages
2,953
Location
Virginia
We have a set of the hard type and they work very well.
Like Topgun said, the soft type would do for the price if they were packed properly.

Would recommend this product: YES
 

James Riley

Banned
Joined
Jan 10, 2015
Messages
1,821
It can be done as you propose but it's not ideal. Use a barrel hitch for your sling ropes on the sea bags, using the horn and cantle like the front and back decker rings or cross bucks. Be prepared to use your saddle strings to assist holding the rope down behind the cantle; otherwise the rope will just pop over if your cantle isn't shoveled. Also be prepared to see some negative wear on your saddle. Best to use one you aren't too fond of. Best to use panniers, as stated above. Actually, best is to get a pack saddle but it's probably not worth it for once a year over a few miles.
 

idnative1948

Well-known member
Joined
May 10, 2010
Messages
3,720
Location
Boise, Idaho
Have only used the big heavy canvas *meat bags* when we packed, but were using them with sawbucks.

You may want to see what Davis Tent offers. Buddy was pleased with their products.
 

Muskeez

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 21, 2012
Messages
1,690
Location
NW Iowa
I researched this myself quite a bit over the last 6 months. I am no horse expert by ANY means, and will just pass on some things that others told me to consider.
If the horses are from your home state you need to consider the shots required and any laws governing transporting horses through other states.
If the horses are not used to mountain trail riding they may not fair as well.
Hauling horses will increase your fuel bill to and from, also there may be trailer rental fees. Also the chances of tire blowouts or bearing issues could be a hindrance.
Horses need to be fed and watered a couple times a day. Will you have ample feed and water at the campsite , and more important to me was do I want to interrupt my hunt to go back to camp to care for horses during the day. If you were hunting with them during the day that may not be an issue.
After a lot of research and consideration, I decided to keep doing our ultralight backpack style of hunting and just go deeper on foot. I found a packer that is willing to come in and haul an elk out if we are too far back to pack it out ourselves in a few trips on our backs. Packers usually charge around $500 per elk. If they can get multiple elk out in the same trip they may charge less per elk after the first one.
For ME it was just a matter of the hassles outweighing the benefits.
Best wishes on your hunt and planning, I love all the stages as well !!
see link for additional info and opinions;
http://onyourownadventures.com/hunttalk/showthread.php?t=261568&highlight=horses
 
Last edited:

SoTex

New member
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
57
I was reading outfitters supply before I logged on here and saw the post that said go to outfitters supply. I saw that Trailmax pack-a- saddle pannier system and it looks perfect accept for the $350 price tag. I may look into the soft bag and will definitely invest in a scale so the load is properly balanced. We are bringing our own 20 foot stock trailer and will pick up the horses in Jackson Hole so hopefully the horses will be in good shape. Most of us have experience with horses but not with horse packing.

I backpacked into the La Garita Wilderness Colorado in 2013 with a 80lb pack in snowy 20 degree weather and I'll never do that again. I was miserable and I'm not that mad at them to be that uncomfortable ever again. I also learned that now that now that I'm in my mid 40's I can't do what I did in the Marine Corps in my early 20's but I love being in the back country so renting horses seems like the perfect solution and still much cheaper than the $5,000 outfitter guided hunt. Plus I really enjoy doing things on my own. I can kill all the deer I want from a tree stand in Texas what I'm looking for is go into the wilderness with a few of my best friends and hunt spot and stalk in some beautiful country. If I get an elk that will just be icing on the cake. Thanks for the advice.
 

cowboystl1

New member
Joined
Mar 11, 2015
Messages
29
Location
St. Louis Missouri
i am in complete agreement good set of codura saddle panniers 50 or so pounds per-side maybe another 50 on top max make sure to check ebay! got mine for 150$ and it is tough tough!
 

JBS

Active member
Joined
Feb 24, 2011
Messages
218
Location
Helena
My link must be coming up different than I intended. the soft trail max panniers are listed at $89. they roll up small enough to be tied behind the cantle when you are riding. try this link.
http://www.outfitterssupply.com/TrailMax-Saddle-Panniers/productinfo/WPA140/
I have put 2 bags of pellets on each side, walked in and then rode out. these are the way to go for keeping stock numbers down in areas that you have to pack in feed.
 

Topgun 30-06

Active member
Joined
Jun 8, 2009
Messages
3,773
Location
Allegan, MI
My link must be coming up different than I intended. the soft trail max panniers are listed at $89. they roll up small enough to be tied behind the cantle when you are riding. try this link.
http://www.outfitterssupply.com/TrailMax-Saddle-Panniers/productinfo/WPA140/
I have put 2 bags of pellets on each side, walked in and then rode out. these are the way to go for keeping stock numbers down in areas that you have to pack in feed.

The link in your initial post came up fine for me and showed both the soft and hard type. That's why I mentioned the big difference in price and ease of use.
 

roknHS

Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2015
Messages
37
Location
Idaho, Tick Fever County
It can be done as you propose but it's not ideal. Use a barrel hitch for your sling ropes on the sea bags, using the horn and cantle like the front and back decker rings or cross bucks. Be prepared to use your saddle strings to assist holding the rope down behind the cantle; otherwise the rope will just pop over if your cantle isn't shoveled. Also be prepared to see some negative wear on your saddle. Best to use one you aren't too fond of. Best to use panniers, as stated above. Actually, best is to get a pack saddle but it's probably not worth it for once a year over a few miles.

JR's instructions are worth reading and memorizing. I can tell he has first hand experience.

What hasn't been discussed yet is the chance of "soreing" the horses with a riding saddle pack set up. The forks on riding saddles is usually not built as high off the horse's withers.
If the horse has high withers and you use a riding saddle with low forks, you can ruin a horse in short order. The forks bumping up and down on the withers will cause a sore that can't be healed easily or quickly. Pack saddles are built very differently from riding saddles for obvious reasons, some of which should be considered, when using a riding saddle as a pack saddle. I would strongly suggest extra thick saddle pads under a riding saddles or better yet, rent pack saddles when you rent the horses.
Don't top pack 50lbs unless you are only going a very short distance. Pack about 60-70lbs (balanced) per side and no more than a 25-30 pound top pack. That is plenty if you are using riding saddles..........I'm thinking about keeping your horses healthy. Once you sore one badly you're screwed. Horse packing is all about getting the job done the easiest way and keeping the stock in good shape. Think about having a big broken blister on the heel of each foot and still trying to get your tight fitting boots on and walking up and down hills all day long.............doesn't sound like much fun does it? Protect your horses..........
 
Last edited:

SoTex

New member
Joined
Oct 3, 2013
Messages
57
JR's instructions are worth reading and memorizing. I can tell he has first hand experience.

What hasn't been discussed yet is the chance of "soreing" the horses with a riding saddle pack set up. The forks on riding saddles is usually not built as high off the horse's withers.
If the horse has high withers and you use a riding saddle with low forks, you can ruin a horse in short order. The forks bumping up and down on the withers will cause a sore that can't be healed easily or quickly. Pack saddles are built very differently from riding saddles for obvious reasons, some of which should be considered, when using a riding saddle as a pack saddle. I would strongly suggest extra thick saddle pads under a riding saddles or better yet, rent pack saddles when you rent the horses.
Don't top pack 50lbs unless you are only going a very short distance. Pack about 60-70lbs (balanced) per side and no more than a 25-30 pound top pack. That is plenty if you are using riding saddles..........I'm thinking about keeping your horses healthy. Once you sore one badly you're screwed. Horse packing is all about getting the job done the easiest way and keeping the stock in good shape. Think about having a big broken blister on the heel of each foot and still trying to get your tight fitting boots on and walking up and down hills all day long.............doesn't sound like much fun does it? Protect your horses..........

Sound advice and why I posted these questions on here. I'm going to buy the soft saddle panniers with the poly max inserts. Our spike camp location is approximately 4 miles from the trail head and mostly downhill but I still will pack lightly and make multiple trips. Thanks again for all the advice and the health of the horse will be my main concern on any decision I make.
 

JLS

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 26, 2012
Messages
12,529
Location
Where the Wild Things Are
Actually, going downhill with the saddle panniers is harder on a horse than going uphill. If it's really steep downhill, I would lighten up your loads even more from the 60-70 pounds. A riding saddle is made for live weight, not dead weight, and going down a steep dowhill will cause chafing in the kidney area.
 

windymtnman

Active member
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
396
I agree with the canvas saddle pannier crowd. In that it's Spring time, you have time to shop. I frequently see used, serviceable saddle panniers advertised on Ebay, Craigslist, and such. I once bought a pair, and mended the worn spots with fishing line. You'll save a lot of money if you can good, used ones.
As for having the horses in camp, they need care and monitoring. You'll either need to pack in certified weed free hay, or have a campsite where the horses have adequate grass to graze. In my campsite selections, that can be easy or really difficult. I find places that have grass, but so many things that will snag and tangle a picket rope, you can't just walk away and leave a horse all tangled up. Depending on things, sometimes you need a fulltime babysitter with your horses when they're picketed/feeding. Take if from me, if a horse gets loose and is M.I.A., that is a horrible feeling to think you may never see it again. Our horses are like family members, and we lovingly care for them and like to spend our time with them. Beyond that, they'll add to the scent control issues you have to pay attention too.
Another option you may have is to thoroughly research where you want to go, look for outfitters in the area, and strike a deal for a drop camp. Then, you don't have all these responsibilities, and unforeseen problems and expenses. You pay the outfitter and you're done.
 
Last edited:

Mthuntinfool

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2014
Messages
579
Location
Noxon Mt
Make sure you double pad your horses while packing too, that will reduce the chance of soring horses. I use both the saddle panniers and a sawbuck with hard panniers. I ride one horse in leading the pack horse, and then lead them both out after loading them up with meat after I get something. make sure the horses have been used to pack game before, otherwise when they smell blood you may have a full blown rodeo on your hands!
 

Forum statistics

Threads
94,534
Messages
1,408,995
Members
29,650
Latest member
SDBowhuntr
Top