Encountering Other Pack Strings on Dangerous Trails
Leading a pack horse in steep terrain on horseback Some people like having the lead rope of the first pack animal in their hand regardless of the terrain. I DON’T!
Occasionally on a narrow trail your horse will spook no matter how well it is trained. And sometimes your trail may give way or your horse might step off the trail. You need both hands to quickly control your horse to insure you stay in the saddle or to get off the horse in a hurry.
Tie the lead rope, with a light break away string, to the saddle D-ring. You can always grab the lead rope quickly if you need to when the lead rope is attached to a D-ring. Another way is to loop the lead rope once around the pommel to allow it to slip loose quickly if there is a quick strain on it such as a horse going off the trail. Do not put the lead rope under your leg as you might be pulled off the saddle. Always keep the lead rope on the downhill side of your torso., However you decide to lead a pack horse- do so in a manner that you won't be pulled off the horse.
Meeting other pack strings on narrow trails is a hazard to you and your horses. Trail courtesy requires the smaller string to get off the trail or turn around.
Insure you always keep the head of your horse and pack animals pointed downhill when turning around. As long as your horse can see the trail it significantly reduces the probability of it going over the side on narrow trails. If I can’t get off the trail I turn around my pack string. I dismount and untie the first pack animal and turn it around. I proceed working my way down the pack string until I reach the last animal in the pack string, which is now the front. Insure you train your horses and pack string to turn around on a trail at home before you are required to turn around in steep country.
Encountering Other Pack Strings in Steep Country Occasionally you will meet pack strings in steep parts of the trail that you can barely go up hill to get out of the way. Some horses do not like going up a hill then side hilling a steep area to get the rest of the pack string off the trail. I strongly suggest you practice going up a hill then side hilling the trail to prepare for encountering other pack strings. Start off on not too steep of hills and then progress to a level that both you and your pack horses are comfortable with.
Sometimes it is wise to dismount your horse and sidehill on foot. Steep terrain is very dangerous and horses have difficulty maintaning their balance when they are carrying a rider or a pack. If you have a loose pack or an unbalanced load you will most likely have a wreck when sidehilling.
Always take the time to insure loads are packed properly. Packing is inherently dangerous in steep terrain. You must take every precaution to insure you and your horses have safe pack trip.< back to Horse Packing Tips