Tag Archives: Equipment

Packhorse equipment to hire in the UK

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While preparing for our six-week ride along the Colorado Trail, I did a lot of investigation into the best packhorse equipment to use. After reading many, many recommendations from those who should know on the Long Riders Guild site, which is an incredible compendium of knowledge on the very specialist subject of ultra-long-distance riding, we opted to buy almost all of our kit from Custom Packrigging in Canada and have it shipped to a friend in the US. (On the way home, we taped the packs up and used them as suitcases.)

Kelly at Custom Packrigging was extremely helpful, and advised me on the best combination of items to fit three as-yet-unseen horses (who turned out to be very different in size and shape), and we were very delighted with how it all worked out. We had some issues with the Western riding saddles the horses came with, but none at all with the packsaddle, which I fully endorse.

It’s very difficult to procure packhorse equipment in Britain, so I don’t want to sell it – but I would be willing to rent it out to anyone planning a long distance journey who doesn’t want to pay for new equipment outright, plus the extortionate shipping costs that would incur.

If you’d be interested, drop me an email at cal [at] calflyn [dot] com, and we can discuss the details. Location depending, I could also help you tack up the first time. I have some tips on packhorse use here.

Available packhorse equipment is as follows:  Continue reading

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Thru-riding the Colorado Trail: Preparation and kit

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I spent the summer of 2017 riding 500 miles through the Rocky Mountains with my partner Rich and three horses called Pinto, Pepper and Numero. I’ve been posting information about the trip online, as well as my trail diary, for anyone with an interest in the journey or backcountry horsemanship more generally. Other entries on this subject can be found here.

Our journey along the Colorado required a lot of preparation, not least in ensuring we had all the kit we needed to travel through the backcountry safely. I’ve ridden since I was a little girl, and spent all my weekends competing as a teenager. But travelling long distance, and using packhorses, was a whole new arena for me and required a lot of advance study. For a brief how-to on the subject, see this post.

An Australian friend of mine, Tim Cope – who rode 6000 miles across the Eurasian steppes for his bestselling book On The Trail of Genghis Khan – was kind enough to spend a few days with me, running through the equipment and knots he found necessary during his three years on the road. He also introduced me to some of his friends in the area – the Baird family, of Bogong Horseback Adventures, and the mountain man and stunt rider Ken Connley – who taught me to tie box- and diamond hitches for the pack saddle.

CuChullaine O’Reilly of the Long Riders’ Guild and Megan Lewis, who recently completed a round-the-world ride, were also extremely helpful, answering questions by email and over the phone. We gratefully received a financial award from the John Muir Trust’s Des Rubens and Bill Wallace Grant towards the costs of the trip.

Getting the right kit together was important: weight was a huge consideration. Over such rugged terrain it was important to keep as much weight off the horses’ backs as possible –  and carrying ‘dead weight’ in the form of bags/boxes is much more difficult to manage compared to the ‘live weight’ of humans, which will balance itself (and can easily jump off in a crisis!).

After the fold, find a full kit list of what we packed – plus a few notes about what worked and what we had trouble with. Price too was a big factor – I made a lot of judgement calls about what was safe to scrimp on, and what would be worth investing in.

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