New horse adventure

utahkid39

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Oct 12, 2021
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This looks like a good place to start and look for some advice from some experienced stock owners. I am 24 and hunted my whole life and been around horses a fair amount but never did a whole lot of riding until this last year. My fiancé has a horse of her own and her brother in law owns about 20 horses and rodeos a lot with his kids. So I guess I'm marrying into a horse family lol. They are helping me find a good horse of my own to ride and I'm sure they will find me a good one. Our long term plan is to be Wyoming residents within the next year and i should have a general elk tag for up there this fall. We plan on riding a lot this spring and summer scouting and looking for shed antlers, and getting the horses in shape. My questions are mainly about packing in with horses. Maybe some of the do's and don'ts that you have learned over the years. I plan on making a base camp and then riding to where I want to hunt and tying the horses up and hunting on foot from there. Also one of my concerns is I've never dealt with grizzly bears let alone grizzly bears and stock animals. At night in grizz country do you hobble your horses and let them graze? tie them up? put hotwire around them? maybe that's personal preference and some things I'm gonna have to learn as I go. Most of my gear as of right now is pretty lightweight as I used it as backpacking gear before the horses, so mainly this year the horses are for packing me up the mountain and an elk off the mountain. I have already purchased some paneers. I'm excited to try this new style of hunting. Thanks everyone
 

blacktail sniper

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Jul 31, 2017
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Oakley, CA
Man I am in a similar boat headed to MT full time in August. Limited packing experience with a good buddy but determined to learn as it is something I want to learn to safely do. Look foreward to any advice as well.
 

Pony Soldier

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Montana
Unless you have a friend to learn from, it's advisable to take a class if possible. They used to teach packing classes at the 9-mile ranger station with Smoke Elser (near Missoula). There are some guide schools closer to Hamilton or used to be.

Read: Packing with Pictures - author unknown and: Horses, Hitches and Rocky Trails by Joe Back. Learn knots - you will need them.

Training horses to picket is useful in the early fall. I'm usually packing hay and usually build a pen with poles and baling twine and tie my stock in it. I build that in the heavy north side timber and pitch my wall tent close by. Stay out of the parks - those are for elk and you will leave a mess. The jungles don't have grass but look for trees that might come down and take care of them.

Some like highlines for stock - there are many choices. An experienced hand can teach you a lot in a weekend. There is a lot to learn and a broad variety of ways to do things. You will learn something everyday you are out. If you pay attention - your horse will teach you a lot. It's a partnership.
 

mntnguide

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Apr 27, 2012
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WY
I've sent numerous friends to the RoyalTine guide school weekender class... it's 4 days, all inclusive and Cody packs in a ton of info. I use to teach for Cody and LeRee for 5 summers for the full 4 week schools... but the weekender class is something id highly suggest you look into if you've never packed, or spent time in the hills with horses... it's a whole different ball game than just owning horses for rodeo, or going on a day ride.

You need to have a vet kit with you for trips, you need to be wary of the season and the feed changing for colic situations etc. I've seen a lot of "experienced" horsemen get into really bad situations in the backcountry cause they have ropes tied all over the place and have a wreck and don't know what to do next, cause they didn't know how to pack properly in the first place. If you plan on really getting into it, you owe it to your horses to be as experienced as you can be.


As for at night, i never leave hobbled horses out all night. I know people who have woke up to a dead horse cause they went to water and stepped through the hobbles with their back foot...i usually have an electric fence set up, and will leave a couple in if i don't think they are getting enough feed during the day, but also don't leave all your stock out at night, unless you enjoy walking out, cause eventually it might happen... i like to highline at night and i usually keep my horses pretty close to my tent, they are my Grizzly alarm clocks, and I've never personally had an issue with a bear going after my stock, and I've had plenty of grizzly encounters in camp at night through the years.

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Pony Soldier

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Montana
For years of camping, I made my own hard panniers out of plywood. Since then the orange plastic ones looked interesting. Two were for food and paper storage. One was for the stove, fuel and some cooking utensils. The last was built custom like a chuck wagon with a fold down front. Inside were pots, pans, glasses, plates, cups, kitchen supplies, silverware and spare parts like mantles for lanterns. Essentially an instant kitchen. It has served me well for 45 years, camping about 4-5 months per year. Once on the horses they provided a nearly flat surface for the top load for the tent, stove, sleeping bags and various items. If you learn a double diamond hitch for your lash cinch, you will have a camp for two for 10-12 days with two riding horses and two pack horses. You do have to prepare your site, cut your camp wood, build your corrals, pack your hay and build your water systems for yourself and your stock.

Hence here is your goal if you like to live comfortable. My last camp had a cook/dining tent and a 10x15 sleeping tent connected by a tarp over the space between. It made very comfortable living for about 14-16 seasons.
 

ianpadron

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Feb 3, 2016
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I'm in the same boat, just got home from my first meeting with the local Backcountry Horsemen chapter. Awesome folks and super willing to teach, especially young guys/gals as most members are older. Look up your local chapter!
 
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utahkid39

utahkid39

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Oct 12, 2021
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31
Man I am in a similar boat headed to MT full time in August. Limited packing experience with a good buddy but determined to learn as it is something I want to learn to safely do. Look foreward to any advice as well.
Montana was my first choice but didnt pan out, We try to hunt there every year tho, send me a pm and i can give some info if you would like!
 
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utahkid39

utahkid39

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Oct 12, 2021
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Thanks for all the replies guys, I definitely am going to look into at least a weekend pack school! My new family members have experience with packing and what not but they are so busy with kids rodeos every weekend that its hard to get them away! All of this is great info. I am pretty excited for this elk hunt and think the horses will hopefully make the experience even better
 

Pony Soldier

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I just looked again at "Horse Packing in Pictures "by Davis. If you can find a copy it will help you a lot for a lot of years. Serious horse time needs to be in your future.
 
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utahkid39

utahkid39

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Oct 12, 2021
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I just looked again at "Horse Packing in Pictures "by Davis. If you can find a copy it will help you a lot for a lot of years. Serious horse time needs to be in your future.
Ill look for a copy of it! I hope to get out during the coming weeks and do some more riding if nothing else!
 

missjordan

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Jan 22, 2016
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Missoula, MT
Take the time like your planning on doing to learn how to pack but do not overlook the horsemanship portion either. In my opinion you need to focus your efforts on learning to ride and handle a horse and the packing and backcountry riding will come. If your family is into horses it will be really easy to have consistency. The big thing is training your mind and muscle memory on how to handle sticky situations because gripping with your knees and pulling back on their mouth is the quickest way to a train wreck. It all takes time


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Pony Soldier

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I agree with missjordan. It's a little like flying airplanes. Success come with hours in the pilot seat. It's not only knowing how to react but anticipating what is coming and taking care of it before it happens.
 

Wolf_trapper

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Nov 8, 2021
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I kept things simple and light from my previous hunting days before horses and just ride a long way in and can get my meat out without it spoiling or breaking my back. I see a lot of guys packing way more horses and equipment then necessary. To each their own though.
 

DustinSchmidt

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Jan 27, 2022
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Why doesn’t anyone ground tie there horses with a stake that lets the horse go 360 around with a 10’ish lead rope. Field trailers do this with there horses and the horses get a custom to not getting tied up in the rope. Seems like a good option why doesn’t anyone do this in the mountains???
 

Pony Soldier

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Thats usually called a picket line. I do that around the house so I don't have to mow or trim. In most of my hunting areas the trees are too thick or a general lack of grass. Beyond that I would have a reluctance in that my stock would be exposed to some idiot on the ridge that can't tell the differance between a horse and an elk.

My learning experience was when some gents from Chicago in the 70s shot 4 leapord appaloosas tied in the middle of a clearcut. I don't even like to ride in the open and tempt fate. In that same period was a gent on a horse wearing an orange slicker on a FS trail. A NR shot him through the slicker, through his leg and saddle and killed his horse.
 
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