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Easy Boots versus Old Mac boots. All pack animals occasionally throw a shoe in rough terrain. Bring along at least 2 different sizes of easy boots that fit most of your animals front and back hooves. If you pack during inclement weather I recommend you bring duct tape along to tape the top part of the easy boot to keep mud/small rocks out of the easy boot. Small rocks inside the easy boot will cause abrasions.

From my experience, I do not like easy boots. The easy boot wire cable is made made of individual wire strands. In rough terrain, these individual strands start breaking 1 by 1 until the easy boot is unusable. Easy boots are also likely to be sucked off in deep. And then you will have great fun getting in the deep mud trying to find the missing easy boot.

I now use Old Mac horse boots which are very reliable but are much more expensive.

I once had problems with 1 horse that kept throwing shoes while packing in the wilderness. Fortunately, I had an outfitter friend that had some old mac boots. I became an old mac user for life. The Old Mac boots are heavier and take up more space but there is no comparison to easy boots.

Extra Horse Shoes I save horseshoes when my horses are being shod just prior to hunting season. I keep these extra shoes at my camp. If a horse loses a shoe, I already have a shoe that is shaped for its hoof and I put the horse shoe nails through the holes that are currently in the horse hoof.

Feed and Water Many people incorrectly assume there will be grass and water basically anywhere in the back country or Wilderness areas. Unfortunately, many Wilderness areas have little grass and water is mainly in lower areas. Contact the Forest Service for info on grass and water in the area you plan on packing in. I always take alfalfa cubes on my pack trips using Utah Panniers to insure my horses receive sufficient food/nutrition. If using alfalfa cubes, always start feeding alfalfa cubes 4-5 days prior to pack trip in small amounts and gradually increase amount each day. A working pack horse requires 15-20 pounds of alfalfa cubes per day, less is okay if you supplement with available grass. Feeding a horse a full ration of alfalfa cubes with no transition could cause your horse to colic and die.

Cinch Length I prefer a 28” pack cinch as it provides more adjustment. Your horse will lose weight during packing and a shorter cinch provides more adjustment. On occasions, when I go on 2-3 week pack trips I have had to adjust my rigging straps to get a tight pack cinch due to my horses losing weight.

I usually start my pack trips with my horses overweight so they can use some of their fat reserves during the trip.

Leather Punch Always pack a leather punch to make any adjustments on your pack saddle. I usually also take a 3’ piece of 1” wide leather to replace any broken straps if a wreck occurs.

Conway Buckle, Nail and a Rock If you have a strap that breaks, a quick temporary repair is to use a nail and a rock to make a hole on each side of the broken strap. Then use a conway buckle to connect the two straps.

Remember, always oil your pack saddles annually and carefully examine the leather for any weak spots and repair as necessary. That way you will not have to use a conway, nail and rock very often.

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