Friday, March 2, 2012

Pack Saddles and Pack Mules a History.....


Trucks, trains, cars, wagons are all useful means of transportation. But if you were a pioneer, fur trader, miner, prospector, anyone in the old west needing to travel through hard terrain the pack saddle on your trusty mule or packhorse was the best choice.

A pack saddle is used to fasten heavy loads on th
e back of a packhorse or mule. These heavy loads consist of firewood, supplies, small equipment and any items that are too heavy of load for humans to carry.

The pack saddle should sit on a saddle blanket to distribute the weight of the saddle and the load on the pack animal's back. The pack saddle is divided into two equal parts separated by a gap at the top to ensure that the load being carried does not rest on the pack animal's backbone. There should also be good ventilation for sweat to evaporate.

The pack saddle has a tree, a breeching which prevents th
e loaded saddle from sliding forward, and a breast collar to keep the loaded saddle from sliding back on the packhorse or mule. The load is tied to the pack saddle with ropes, straps, or other devices.

There are several styles of pack saddles:

The cross buck style has crossed wooden bars to attach sling ropes.

The army style has two large metal hooks on each sid
e for hanging pack bags or crates.



The sawbuck pack sad
dle is so named because of the X-shape of the two saddle cross members which looks like the sawbuck table that has X shaped legs. The two projections on the top of the X on each cross member are used to hang panniers. Panniers are solid-sided or canvas containers used to transport supplies and equipment.

The Sawbuck pack saddle has been around since Genghis Khan. The sawbuck pack saddle was a key piece of equipment in the old west. This allowed for everything, except the kitchen sink, to be carried on horse or mule through the rugged terrain and mountains.

Prospectors, pioneers, the railroad, the forest service and the army have all used the pack saddle.


The Forest Service in the 1930's established a "Remount Depot" in Montana. The forest service needed to construct fences, roads, and be ready for fire services. The Remount Depot was a place to raise and train horses and mules and to train "packers" how to pack the supplies for the forest service.

Pack mules and pack saddles are still used to transport supplies in rugged terrain, road-less regions and mountain areas. These pack mules are used to supply mountaineering base camps, trail building and maintenance crews and back-country footbridge crews. Today there are sixteen mule pack stations in business in the Sierra Nevada.


The Army also used pack mules and pack saddles for carrying supplies. Pack Mules and pack saddles were used in World War I & II and the Korean war. The pack animals hauled ammunition, water, food, heavy artillery and helped to evacuate the wounded during the war.

The army had a Remount Service. The Remount Service was used to obtain the horses and mules, condition them, provide training and i
ssue them to the appropriate units. The first remount depot was at Fort Reno, Oklahoma.


If you are headed out for a "packing" adventure Buck
aroo Leather has all your packing equipment......

Buckaroo Pack Saddle



This Pack saddle is made with 10-12 ounce (1/4" thick) Hermann Oak Old World Harness leather. Harness is the best leather to stand up against the elements because in the tanning process it is stuffed with tallos and waxes to repel everything.

The front and rear breechings are made with a soft latigo to prevent chaffing. All stress points are reinforced with hand set copper harness rivets for extra strength and durability.

Click here to Purchase and read more about this pack saddle


Leather Saddle Bag -Medium




Medium Leather Saddle Bag crafted from premium full grain 10+ once oiled skirting Leather. Hand finished with polished edges. Size. 10" x 12 1/2" .






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Western Horseman the safest most durable Quality
American made leather horse tack.......Buckaroo John Brand
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3 comments:

Nora20 said...

I have a decker pack saddle and I love it. It's cool to read how the saddle came around, from the old days to what we have now. I bet the early pioneers would have loved to get their hands on a modern pack saddle.

Moe Satriani said...

I was looking at different pack saddles for sale when I came across your blog. Thank you so much for posting all of this great history. I learned so much and I am appreciating my horse more and more as I learn more about the history of horses and horse gear. Thanks again!

buckaroojohn said...

Moe and Nora20 thank you both for your comments. History of our horse tack i believe endears us to our tack plus it is interesting to learn their background...#RideAmericn