This will be my first year using horses on a hunting trip. I have two young geldings that are actually our ranch/rope horses. I have been working on the pack part but was wondering for some tips on getting them used to the smell of blood and the hides. Any other info on packing is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
The next time you butcher a cow or pig, introduce the horses to the blood and carcass. This is a good start. Depending on the horse it should go pretty quick. It's been my experience they either tolerate it or they don't.
As far as packing goes, if there was one thing I would be sure of, is making sure the loads are as well balanced as possible. An unbalanced load can cause a pack to spin which can lead to major rodeos! An other thing that can play into the picture is the compatibility or the pack animals. Some critters just can't abide having some animals behind them. One time I was leading a couple of horses and my saddle horse, which I had been riding for weeks with no problems become a snorting bronc! To make a long story short, all I did was swap positions of the horses being lead, problem solved. My saddle horse had serious issues with the lead pack animal, so when I moved him behind the other horse it solved the problem. So be aware of things like that.
Enjoy your pack trips, I love 'em, but they can be a pain until you get some experience.
We have one horse that for the life of him will not get used to the blood smell. Even if you have gutted one and then try to feed him, he won't get close to you. We even blind folded him to get some quarters on him, got them on and halfway up the mountain all hell broke loose. Needless to say we packed those quarters out on our backs. That horse now stays home when we pack. We will put our hides in the corral with them where they have to eat, and they get used to them pretty quick when they are hungry. Other horses we have don't seem to care either way. One we have even goes on the sulk when he sees a dead animal because he knows he has to go to work.
Sometimes you can also put the oats directly on the bare side of a hair-on hide on the ground.
Originally Posted by RUTTIN
If your into reading check out Horses, Hitches and Rocky Trails by Joe Back, has all kinds of info on pack saddles, hitches, being on the trail, etc. Definatley a good read I've used it as a reference more than once. Packing is a blast, there's nothing like pulling a string out of the backcountry with a load of meat and antlers. Enjoy and good luck.
There is some good advice up above. Work with your horse everyday in the round pen. Kill a couple of rabbits and hang them in the round pen and make the horse live in the round pen. Put his water in there and feed him in there. Every day put a halter on him and hold his lead rope with about 2 foot of slack in it and try to rub a rabbit on his front leg. If he is ok with it then rub it on him more then quit. He will smell it on his body and get used to it. Next day rub it on him again progressing more over the body. If the horse is moving away from you then keep the lead rope close to you so he can move around you with out running over you. Every day progress more and more until you can hang the rabbits on the saddled horse. Round pen him with the rabbits hanging over him and until he quits worrying about the rabbits. If you are unexperienced at round penning or working with a nervous horse then use the methods mentioned above as you do not have to be close to the horse as he gets used to dead animals.
In a pinch, sometimes you can put some vaseline on the nose nostrils of the horse so that he cannot smell the blood. I have never done this and I prefer proper training over quick fixes but it is a trick that old timers used to use sometimes. Above all be careful and get somebody to help you train properly if your horses act as if blood bothers them. fatrooster.