Satellite Phone. In many hunting and wilderness areas cell phones do not work when horse packing. A satellite phone can be rented on a weekly or monthly basis for your horse packing trip. The money spent on a satellite phone would be the best money a person ever spent if there is an accident or emergency.
The Forest Service or local authorities will come to your aid in case of an emergency situation. All you need to do is contact them with your satellite phone! If you do not have local emergency phone numbers you can always call home and have friends and family contact local authorities.
Unfortunately, some years ago a person that was hunting in the same wilderness area I was had to use a satellite phone to inform local authorities his hunting partner had died of a heart attack. A bad situation which would have been much worse without a satelite phone.
Exhausted riding horses and pack animals are very dangerous. during horse packing trips. An exhausted animal will stumble often or lunge and are much more prone to stepping off the trail. Rest your animals often to avoid your riding horse or pack animal stepping off a trail and causing serious injury to you and them. Exhausted horses are more prone to make mental mistakes just like exhausted people.
Also, remember your riding horse gets tired. I get off my horse often especially on level ground or going down a hill to rest my horse. I have had several horses step off steep sided trails. An experience I don't want to repeat.
Knife Always carry a very sharp knife when horse packing so if you get in an emergency situation you can quickly cut lead ropes, panniers, manties, or pack saddles off if necessary. If a horse has his head or neck accidentally severely restrained by a rope there can be a major problem very quickly. This happened to me once on one of the best horses I will ever own, Soldier. Fortunately, quick work with a knife saved my horse from possibly injuring himself.
Pack Saw or an Ax should be a mandatory item with easy access when you are horse packing. Even on good trails, trees blow down and sometimes the trail is so narrow you can’t turn around and you have to be able to clear a trail. I recommend you use super glue, lock tight etc., on any nuts and bolts on your pack saw. If a nut comes loose and you loose it, your pack saw now is useless.
Pack a Pannier or manty to avoid rattles. Some inexperienced pack horses start bucking when loading manties or panniers that make noises. Don’t even try to control the horse once it gets out of control. All horses are much stronger than you are and you risk serious injury trying to intervene. Let the horse buck until it calms down or the manty is on the ground. Repack and insure there are no rattles.
Check Pack Saddle and Panniers Annually. When you oil your pack saddles annually look for any problem areas, especially where the leather loops around buckles or conways. These leather areas that loop are normally the weakest leather areas and the leather degerates there the soonest. Always generously oil these looping leather areas. Pannier buckles and straps that attach to the pack saddle should be inspected for problem areas.
Practice dragging a rope at home. I have seen horses start bucking or running when the horse realizes it is dragging a rope or steps on a rope. Spooky horses like this probably should not be in a pack string and probably need much training in other areas also.
Practice your horse packing trip at home. Load and pack your horses at home and ride around your place leading the pack string for several hours. You can determine if the breast collar and breaching are too lose, too tight or just right. If your loads are unbalance you can correct at home. if you have problems keeping your pack string in line you can do additional training. The more problems that can be identied and corrected at home the more enjoyable and safer your horse pack trip experience will be.
Always turn a horse around on a narrow trail with its head facing downhil. I can assure you your horse does not want to take a tumble down the hill and will automatically back up the the hill to turn around safely.
During your trip be very observant of" narrow" steep sided trails with a dirt base. These type of trails are very dangerous to you and your pack animals and should be avoided if possible. The sides of these trails will disintegrate if your pack horse steps on the edge of the dirt trail.
I prefer to walk on these sections of dirt trails to give my riding horse a better chance of survival if I am not on him if the side of the trail gives way . Also, if you are dismounted you can react quicker to any problem in this dangerous part of the trail.
You must always remember there is an element danger when packing, especially, in steep country or going off trail. The more you can do prevent accidents prior to the horse packing trip the safer you and your pack animals will be.