Friday, 12 August 2011

Horse-camping

To get off the beaten trails into some new areas to ride, we want to do some horse-camping. That means having a trust-worthy horse that you can pack with your food, clothing and shelter so you arrive at your camping area with everything intact! In spite of the fact that we've had many horses in and out of our pasture, we didn't have one with that temperament until little Sugar came along.
Adjusting the pack saddle.
Putting on the pack boxes.
Horses are a flight animal, which means that if they are faced with anything they fear, they will run away if they have a choice. Most horses are desensitized when they are young by being exposed to different "fear" items during their training. Flapping tarps, barking dogs, kids on bicycles, hikers with backpacks, wooden bridges and large rocks in the middle of nowhere are just a few of the things that will spook a nervous horse. Although our horses are broke, there are still things that will set them off and pack boxes and flapping tarps are a couple of those things.

Sugar is unconcerned with the flapping tarp.
Standing still while tarp is adjusted.
From the day we brought Sugar home, she expressed curiosity rather than fear at things normally considered scary for our other horses. In the process of sacking out (rubbing a large empty feed sack over the horse), she would stand still, look at me over her shoulder with a look that said "Are you done yet?" So, as part of her training, Sugar learned about pack saddles and tarps and she was awesome!

Tying the diamond hitch
All packed and ready to travel.
 She's an amazing horse - all of this is after only a week of riding and training.
Here's Sugar reading the ultimate How-to-pack book to make sure everything's done correctly.
Next year we will be doing an overnight trip somewhere in the back country and we might even be able to pack some fresh eggs with a pack horse this level-headed!

--Ann