Pack Saddles ‘n Stuff

By Patty Wilber

I bought my very own pack saddle (thanks Jackie for bidding on it at the auction)!  It is a modified Decker.  The rigging is all nylon and it would be nice to re-rig with leather–maybe for Christmas–or– maybe not!

I used it two weeks ago on Tabooli. We packed in food and tools for a trail crew.  We did 14 miles round trip in one day and it went without a hitch–well–I used a box hitch, so, there was a HITCH. I guess I should have said,  “It went very smoothly!”

Decker pack saddle, box hitch, on T

I will miss all the rest of the July pack  trips:  This weekend is my last chance to tune up on cows  for the Appaloosa Nationals, so I am doing that. (T and my pack saddle are going on the pack trip this weekend though, with Kee and his horse Cookie.)

Buckshot is on his way to the Nationals!  Next weekend I will be  there too. The next weekend: A paint show.  The last weekend:  A stock horse show.  Geez maybe I should go get some range cows (well there is that LITTLE problem of a lease) so I have an excuse not to show!

Here are some different pack saddles used on our trip–

Decker. A Decker has D-shaped metal irons on top and these were modified with small, after-market pins welded to it. Deckers were designed for mantied loads (loads wrapped in canvas tarps--called manties--and hung from the D's). The added pins help keep the pannier bags from slipping off the D's.


Modifed Decker. The D shaped irons have been modified so that instead of being D shaped, they are squished in on the sides, making a kind of dog ear that helps hold the panniers. I add a bungee cord down the middle to catch the panniers if they do come off. (But of course my excellent box hitch holds everything in place...!)

Phillips Pack saddle. The irons are D shaped and have large-ish horizontal pins to hold the panniers. Tools are not a heavy load--but they are awkward.

Saw Buck. No irons but instead the wooden X-like structure, over which the pannier loops fit.

Trail-Max Pack a Saddle. This system fits over a standard western saddle.

Here are a couple trip shots.  I did not get too many action pics because riding one horse and leading another doesn’t leave any free hands for the camera.

Amber with her string of two and Richard with one. When two or more pack animals are tagged together, there has to be a weak spot in the tag in case one animal freaks out. The break away string will (...should) break. This usually makes for a smaller wreck than if one freaks out and takes the whole string with them!

When I was 18 I worked at K-Arrow Ranch for the summer.  It was a horse camp.  I was a decent hand with a horse and a lot of people assumed I knew a BUNCH more than what I did.  So, one evening I was told I needed to get seven horses and saddles down to the lake, about three miles away.  I saddled up all seven, and having NO idea how to create my string, I tied them head to stirrup.  This resulted in them being fanned out to the side because they could not get head to tail. Fortunately, I was riding down a dirt road, so there was room…

These were gentle dude horses, but I didn’t quite get the optimal order of go and I had a balker.  Being as I had no break away string, I ended up tearing off a stirrup…

Other than that, it was a beautiful ride, on a warm summer’s night on a ranch in Northern California.

Oh there was this one other part–a rapist has just escaped–really!–from a prison across the lake.  But hey I was 18–invincible!

They caught him on the ranch and I saw him in the back seat of the cop car that passed me coming up from the lake!

More scenery:

See Penny's ear?

It started raining. I guess Penny figured the tree was good protection! See my saddle saw? Cool, huh? That saddle is on its way to Tulsa for the Nationals!

Me and Lisa. You can't even tell I am holding the camera out there in front of us to take this shot!

So, next week, IF I get a blog together before I go, I won’t be able to send out the regular email so you’ll have to go to the web page itself, or subscribe!

Have a nice week!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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4 Responses to Pack Saddles ‘n Stuff

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for showing us the different kinds of pack saddles. And for the picture showing clearly how mule butt differs from horse butt. I think Penny’s right–rain can be tickly, and having your head under a limb lets you scratch the tickles when the drops come through.

  2. Patty says:

    Hi Elizabeth–When I realized we had 6 pack animals and 4 different pack systems, the light bulb went on! Penny was quite content there with her head in that tree!

  3. Cat Pettygrove says:

    They told that story all the time at campfires to scare

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