Training Pack Horses

ArticleHow to - horse trainingWednesday 27 January 2010
Pack horses need delicate training. Read this guide to learn more about the specific tasks needed to train a pack horse.

Pack horses are hard working, intelligent animals, but they require regular training to be used effectively. For more information on training pack horses, consider the following information.

Tips on How to Train a Pack Horse

Training a horse for packing requires a breed type that is comfortable with wearing a saddle and halter. If you are looking to work intensively with a pack horse, try and purchase a horse that has already been trained up with the basics, as a horse with no grounding of simple exercises will struggle to master the unique characteristics needed for a pack horse to excel.

In order for a pack horse to function effectively, you’ll need to search for a saddle that provides a classic fit. This is essential when you train a horse for this type of work as a poor fit can prove detrimental to the horse’s health and conformation. A saddle that fits correctly will also make a horse more responsive to training techniques as it will feel little discomfort as it rides.

The key skills needed to train a pack horse are intelligence and instinct. You’ll need to add weight to the saddle one step at a time to ensure the horse accepts the constant addition of weight. Therefore, it’s important to be delicate with this procedure as adding too much weight too quickly could cause the horse to show indiscipline or encourage unnecessary strains to flair up.

The skill of training pack horses lies in the subtle alterations of weight to the saddle. Remember to walk the horse as you apply further weight, as holding weight while stationary is a very different sensation to advancing with excess weight. If the horse seems distressed, remove weights and reintroduce them again at an appropriate moment.

The next important pack horse training technique is dulling the senses. A spooky, nervous horse is no good for packing, so it is crucial to stamp out this behaviour at an early stage. Add unusual, distracting items to the weight of the saddle and judge the horse’s reaction – you’ll need to test out both touch and sound reactions to analyse the extent of desensitisation needed. Over time, allow the horse to get used to different objects on the saddle until it shows little or no reaction during movement.

The art of standing still becomes a necessity when it comes to pack horses. You’ll want the horse to retain the weight of the saddle even in moments of inaction. Sometimes a pack horse may have to remain in the same position for a couple of hours, so it’s literally a delicate balancing act to get this training technique right. Train the horse to become accustomed to hobbles as this will help when it comes to standing still.

Finally, put your pack horse to the test by riding a different horse alongside it during a training session. An effective pack horse should stay behind the horse you are riding at all time. Remember to stay patient as you train a pack horse, as the physical activity can prove extremely demanding for the horse.

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