Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Equipment for the Journey

Planning for a journey of this length - with days and weeks spent away from 'civilisation - requires a lot of thought, particularly as everything must be carried.

A patient, honest, kindly friend,
The packhorse plodded down the years,
Content his humble life to spend
In toil to aid the pioneers.
Before the swagman and his load,
Before the wagon and the train,
He trampled out the dusty road
And trod the dry road in again.
He bore the first prospector's pan, 
The first surveyor's tent and gear;
With Sturt and Mitchell led the van
O'er plains of doubt , through scrubs of fear.
The danger-circled path he kept,
And bore the blankets on his back
Of watchful men who seldom slept.

This is the pack saddle -  a 'Hurunui Packer'.   It is based on an old English military design and has hinged panels to make it more accommodating to the horse.  The bars are made of New Zealand beech, but  the frame is made from a very light alloy - you can literally hold it with your little finger.   It is Rob's prototype and has been specially made up for me.  Its a real piece of craftsmanship.



The ILPH advises that a pack horse can theoretically carry up to about 90 Kg, in two loads of 35Kg plus a top load. Mary has a lesser load - not least because she has  to lift the bags up to the necessary height to fit them to the pack saddle!   

At the start of any ‘leg’ the two packs weigh between 25kg and 30 kg each, with a top load (shoeing stuff and electric fence posts) of about 12kg.   The total is of course less than the riding horse carries, by the time he is shouldering not only Mary but also her lunch and her cameras etc, but it is of course a dead weight and it does not get off and walk going down hill!

For the horses:

Much of this is purchased from The Saddlery Barn, Templeton
Stock saddle – a Bates Kimberley Poley  supplied by Weatherbeeta
Pack saddle and harness - supplied by Rob Stanley of Hurunui Horse Treks
Numnahs and saddle blanketsFeed Mark (UK) has supplied a 'Heather Moffatt' back protector for the riding horse. This is made from a special slow-recovery foam which was designed for seating in Nasa space flights!
*Station bridle made by Les Wilkins Saddlery in Harwarden, with snaffle bit Light rope halters  with long lead ropes
Picket ropes, hobbles,
Spare reins, spare girth, spare stirrup leather, spare rope
*Leather mending kit - needles, twine, saddle soap
*Lightweight waterproof rugs supplied by Weatherbeeta
Grooming glove, hoof pick, hoof oil
Hard feed - a small supply of NRM sweetfeed mix for contingencies
Small plastic bucket

Saddle bag made by Les Wilkins Saddlery in Harwarden

Pack bags, top load straps
Scales : a 50 Kg spring balance is  essential as the two side pack bags MUST be equal weights.
Worm powders - supplied by Equest
*Homeopathic first aid kit supplied by Crossgates farm
Storm kettle supplied by the Eydon Kettle Company
First Aid Kits - for the horses and for mary - supplied by Robinsons Animal Health Care and VETPRO  including electrolytes
- Glide, chafe spray, Sun block, Insect Repellent for horses and for Mary, *Shoeing Tools -  spare sets of shoes for both horses, hammer, rasp, buffer, pincers, assorted nails, pliers,
A Very Sharp knife readily accessible in a sheath on the saddle, for emergencies.
Cell phone, recharge kit

Irridium Satellite Phone, provided by Leeds United football club
Mini Electric fence unit supplied by Gallagher Electric Fence

For Mary:
Alarm clock, head torch , Spare batteries
 Maps - 1:50000 – many printed out from TOPOMAP cd rom
Camera, binoculars
 Water bottle with built in filtration system, Billy
Plate, bowl, mug, knife, fork, spoon, frypan, etc, washing up necessities
Cool bag
Dry bags
Thermarest, Sleeping bag wrapped in a canoe drybag supplied by HIGH COUNTRY in Christchurch, lightweight camping  towel
Tent, tent pegs
Gas cooker + spare gas bottle, Gas light, candles, matches, fire starters
Loo roll, trowel, mosquito coils, fly spray
, diary, sketch pad, watercolours 
Clothing - full chaps, three Rohan shirts, swandri

Waterproof supplied by BACKHOUSE

Hiking boots – not riding boots as a good grip is essential when walking on rough ground or down steep tussock slopes

Plus – of course!
Food – pasta, ‘pasta snacks’, cereals, dried goods, fruit and nuts, tea, coffee,


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