Pack Horse Behavior & New Horses in a Pack String


Pack Horse Acting Unusual.

Occasionally there will be a problem with a pack horse you cannot easily identify.

A good horse will go forward close to the horse in front of it, start throwing his head up and down, etc., before trying to buck off the pack.

You need to stop immediately and determine what the problem is. The pack horse is trying to tell you something is wrong.

I had a horse acting unusual about a quarter mile from camp but I couldn’t see anything wrong. I didn’t stop – a bad decision. A little while later the pack horse started bucking and didn’t stop until the panniers were on the ground.

My delay and bad decision could have caused serious injury to a great horse.  Fortunately, I was on top of a ridge when my horse, Jack, decided enough was enough.

New Pack Horses. Be very careful when you pack horses that have never been together. The alpha horse in your pack string may try to establish dominance over the new horses and start kicking at the new horses just behind him or the alpha horse might try to bite a new horse in front of him.

New Riding Horses and Pack Horses. I know a person that was seriously injured in the wilderness when he was riding his horse and his friend’s riding horse side kicked him and broke his leg. He had to be taken out of the wilderness by a Forest Service helicopter.

Again, new horses in a pack string or new riding horses can be very dangerous to you and your horses. Be careful, you don’t want to be injured, especially in the back country. And, you don’t want a seriously injured horse that you might have to put down.

New Mules in a Pack String. All horses are normally more dominant than mules. Horses usually kick and bite new mules in a pack string more than new horses.

Inexperienced Pack Horse Location in String I position an inexperienced packhorse immediately behind my riding horse. That way I can observe him better, correct any problems quicker and talk to him to help calm him down if necessary.

One time I put a new horse in third position and about half a mile down the trail it decided it wanted to be in front. The inexperienced horse broke the break away string and took off downhill on a steep slope. Unfortunately, the fourth packhorse followed him.

Both horses passed me on the downhill side of a very steep hogback.

Unbelievably, neither horse rolled down the mountain on their escapade and returned to the trail safely. I immediately moved the inexperienced packhorse to the first position.




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