first camp with the horses was set up behind DC's house in Plaistow, N.H.
On the morning of April 16, 1991, we loaded the horses with saddles and packs
for the first time. Dawn and Louise had no problem. However, Vicki, our designated
pack horse, an x-harness racing horse, saw those packs go on and then heard
the racing bells go off! She hit the end of her leadrope and flew around and
around in circles until all her packs were straddling her belly, and then
she tipped over. She laid there as we removed her gear, and then she got back
up. We packed her again, walking her around each time a new item was attached,
and she was fine. Finally we were ready to go. By the time we reached the
end of the driveway, we had left several blankets and other items behind.
We really had no idea what was and wasn't needed. My mom said she wished she
could attach an extension cord to us, and reel it out as we went along as
Skidder, my Newfoundland/Husky dog, followed right along with us and soon learned that everything on the right side of the right line was his to explore, but the left side was off limits.
I had always ridden Dawn with no horseshoes, and that is how we left on our trip, with no horseshoes. I had no idea what continual riding on pavement would do to a horse's hoof. They wear down very quickly. Actually, I had no idea we would have to spend a lot of time on the pavement. Since we didn't know any trails, it was the easiest way to get out of Dodge! At two weeks into the trip, we had a farrier shoe the horses. However, after another two weeks, it was time to replace the shoes! Surprisingly, they wore as fast as the hoofs! This time we had boreum welded to the toes and heels of the new shoes. They lasted close to a year!!
Our first camp away from home was in a forested place where paintball games were held. During the night we heard crashing sounds and found Vicki laying on her side, comatose. She must have heard the bells go off again. This seemed to be a reoccurring problem, so we decided to find her a home, she just wasn't cut out to be a pack horse. We left her on a big farm in Connecticut.
The original packs we left with, nylon saddle bags, didn't last long. They tore wide open, spilling the contents out into the street. We replaced them with leather saddle bags built for Harley-Davidson motor cycles. These were no better and were replaced with army/navy backpacks. These were the best and lasted over a year. However, they had to be modified to hook onto the saddles.
After the first month we were pretty savvy about traveling with horses. We knew what to look for in a camp (picnic tables make great bed & bureau combinations, as well as saddle racks) and what to pack with us. Once a week we "lightened the load" and disposed of unneeded items, such as my curling iron and DC's silk shirts!!