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 the 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 the 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.
The cross buck style has crossed wooden bars to attach sling ropes.
The army style has two large metal hooks on each side for hanging pack bags or crates.
The sawbuck pack saddle 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 issue them to the appropriate units. The first remount depot was at Fort Reno, Oklahoma.
If you are headed out for a "packing" adventure Buckaroo Leather has all your packing equipment......
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.
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