Cisco is 5 years old now and it’s clear that he needs and wants a job. He has come along way from that wild pony who didn’t think humans were worth bothering with (except for food) and although he still has his “leave me alone” days – he is a very kind, steady and calm pony.
We have worked with The Dartmoor Pack Ponies over the last few years; in 2015 we undertook a 3 day trek across Dartmoor with Trelawny, one of our ponies Pippin and 3 of The Dartmoor Pack Ponies. As a result of that trek we asked Sam who owns The Dartmoor Pack Ponies if he could make a pack saddle for Cisco.
Making the pack saddle
The saddle itself is made of oak with leather and webbing rigging, stainless steel fittings, two numnahs and a wool blanket to provide the padding needed to ensure that Cisco is comfortable with his load. Sam took his time so that the saddle would fit Cisco, including allowing for his change in shape as he loses weight and gets fitter.
On Friday we tried Cisco for the first time in his pack saddle. We slowly introduced the numnahs and blanket and then the saddle itself. We loosely adjusted the rigging so that it wasn’t too tight but would hold the saddle in place.
The girths were tightened up enough so that nothing slipped and frightened him – its important that he get used to the new sensations on his body. He went out for a short walk and enjoyed the benefits of our colourful and delicious hedgerows. Cisco was brilliant – he coped very well with this strange thing on his back and two girths around his (rather large) tum.
We still need to make adjustments to the saddle and rigging but its important to take things slowly and get it right so that Cisco has a positive experience, is comfortable and confident.
There is plenty more training to do, including a slow introduction to carrying weight but we are hoping that he will become a great pack pony in the future.