By Robert Lucke
The Back Country Horsemen of Montana put out a pamphlet designed for those folks taking horses into the back country for camping. Their suggestions make for a more enjoyable camping trip for those in your party and for those who campers come in contact with as well.
Their suggestions include taking only the amount of duffel needed. Not only that, use lightweight gear. Camper cloth tents weigh only half as much as canvas. Fewer horses make less work, worry and impact.
Locate your camp away from trails. Set up your tent away from the trail and 200 feet away from water if possible and apart from other campers.
Don't tie stock to trees. Probably nothing gives horsemen more bad marks than tying to trees. The scars are visible for years.
Keep stock and toilets away from water. Tie stock 200 feet away from water if possible and locate your toilet at least 200 feet from water too.
Tie stock away from camp. Where you tie is as important as how you do it. Get stock out of your immediate camp area.
Keep a neat camp. Pack your own garbage plus that left by others. Keep your campsite neat and leave it cleaner than you found it.
Be neat. Don't litter. That garbage probably all came out of the saddlebag. There must be room to put it back in.
Don't smoke on the trail. And douse your campfire with water and stir when leaving camp.
Be polite when meeting others foot or horseback. All people are created equal. Even though the horsemen were using the trails long before it occurred to anyone that hiking could be fun, we must remember it belongs to the hikers too.
Give right of way when possible. Regardless of the rules, common sense should prevail.
Horses do not always have the right of way. Speak to hikers and try to get them to answer. Your horse will react better to a talker than he will to the strong, silent type. Very few horses are fond of motor bikes.
Saddle horses should give way to pack stock. One is easier to control than a number of pack animals. Up hill strings have the right of way over downhill.
When overtaken, let them by at first opportunity. Good manners make good friends.
Don't crowd the horse in front of you. Many horses get nervous when crowded.
Stay on the trail. Don't take short cuts. Horsemen are not the worst offenders for cutting switchbacks, but those they do leave a good sized trail furrow.
Keep your dogs under control. Your dog is probably well behaved but other people's can be a nuisance. If you can't control it, leave it at home.
This pamphlet is packed with other tips. Copies are available upon request by writing to Back Country Horsemen of Montana, Box 5431, Helena, MT 59604.