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Tahoma Chapter - Good To Know

Trail Riding & Camping Basics, Trail and Packing Glossary

How the Rides Work


Tahoma Chapter hosts Day Rides and Overnight Rides/Camp-outs.  The rides will be listed on the Chapter Calendar and announced at the general membership meetings. You may contact the designated Host/Ride Leader for more information about the location, terrain, difficulty or anything else. Your horse should be in condition to ride at least 4 hours.  Overnight rides are camping events where you will camp with your truck and trailer at the designated camping area. Many members have truck/camper combinations or living-quarter horse trailers but some may use tents or sleep in their rigs. Whatever works for you.  Host/Leader asks people to sign-up in advance, but it is not necessary, although, signing-up enables the Host to plan for number of attendees, or to contact them if the event is cancelled, relocated or re-scheduled.  Guests are welcome to attend, they will be asked to sign a Liability Waiver.


Camping Etiquette


Please practice Leave No Trace -  leave your campsite / trail head as clean or cleaner than when you arrived. Scatter manure or put in manure bin, if provided, or pack it home with you. Do not overfeed and clean up all uneaten feed. Fill any holes that your animal may have caused.

Make sure your campfire is completely out, use water to douse residual heat or sparks.





Sign-up at the general membership meeting prior to group ride/camp out/event or contact the Ride Leader/Host by email or phone.  If the event is cancelled or relocated, the Leader will be able to contact you.




Bring clear driving directions with you to locate campsite. Do not rely on GPS only. Also, bring area maps showing topography and trails, such as Green Trails Maps or others, available online or at stores.


Getting Lost Makes for a Very Bad Day!


Host / Ride / Event Leader


It is the responsibility of the Ride Leader to lead a group ride and announce ride-out time, estimated ride length and difficultly.  Please attend the Rider's Meeting prior to ride. When on the ride, do not pass the Ride Leader and stay within sight of the group.  If you decide to take a different route  than the group ride, please inform the Ride Leader of your plans.



  It is customary to have a potluck on Saturday evening of the camp out, as announced by Host. Please bring your utensils and a dish to share. Bring your chair to relax and enjoy social / campfire time. 




All parking/camping on USFS lands requires either a day pass or an annual Forest Service Pass. (You can earn a day pass by attending a USFS sponsored chapter work party. Over 65 - Golden Age Pass). Discover Pass is generally required for DNR/WDFW and other State lands. Some campgrounds charge a site usage fee. If you are unsure of what permits are needed for a particular event, please contact Event/Ride Leader. 


Weed-Seed Free Feed / Certified Hay


Required on all USFS land. Use processed feed or hay with certification tag.   

















Trail Terms


Polaski:  Tool with a head resembling a cross between a pick and a hoe.  Height and weight of a double-headed sledge hammer.  Used for widening trails and other trail work.


Water Bar:  A 6 inch diameter peeled tree set across the trail and partially buried in the ground to divert water to run off to the side of the trail.  This helps prevent erosion down the center of the trail.


Puncheon:  Cedar rough cut or split into planks measuring 5" x 8-1/2" x 4' (or 5').  Used for decking on trail bridges.


Turnpike:  10" diameter peeled logs set on either side of the trail. The trail tread is then filled with dirt to a height above the logs.  Turnpiking is used in places with soft footing (deep mud)


Blow:  When climbing a steep  hill, the horses (stock) will need to stop and catch their breath along the way.


Dehydration:  When riding in hot weather, the horses (stock) may become dehydrated if there is insufficient water sources available along the trail.  If you can pinch an inch of skin on the horse's neck and doesn't snap back immediately but stays in a peaked position, your horse is dehydrated. Keep an eye on your animal and take extra precautions to prevent a severe case of dehydration. 


Hay Bag:  Mesh bag that holds flakes of hay.  The bag allows horse to eat when tied to trailer or highline.  Using a hay bag also helps keep feeding areas cleaner. 


Saddlebags:  Allows a rider to pack lunch and supplies (first aid, etc.) where it is easily accessible.  Do not overload more than 20-30 pounds. Try to even out the weight side to side. 


Loppers:  Long-handled brush clippers.


Packing Terms


Decker:  Metal bars bent in half-moon shape and secured to wood paddles on a packsaddle.  Straps attach and secure to horse/mule. Used to hold boxes or pack bags.  Fully rigged weighs approximately 25 lbs.


Sawbuck:  Wooden crossbucks instead of metal D-rings. Fully rigged, a sawbuck weighs 16-18 lbs. 


Pack Boxes: Panniers made from wood or plastic.


Kitchen Box:​ Pack box that has compartments to keep kitchen items organized while travelling.


Panniers​: Pack bags made from leather and/or canvas with straps to attach them to pack saddle.


Top Pack:  Pack bag that is placed on top of pack boxes, often sewn in H shape to fit securely around the sawbuck of decker.


Manties:  Canvas sheets that equipment is wrapped in and tied. Waxed manila rope is best for sling, lash, and mantie ropes.


Crupper:  Harness that goes under the stock's tail. Holds saddle in place on down grades.

Breeching:  Harness that goes around rear of stock, under tail, to keep packsaddle in place on down grades. 


Half Breed Cover:  A canvas envelope, part of the packsaddle.  May be padded from one to two inches thick.


Harness:  Includes breastcollar, double cinch, crupper or breeching that keeps packsaddle in place.


Knots:  Diamond hitch, half hitch, basket hitch, barrel hitch, one-man diamond, box hitch, squaw hitch, quick release cinch knot and lash rope.


Highline:  A rope strung between two trees with tree saver straps (nylon) around the tree to protect bark.  Either a loop at one end and ring at other, or two sized rings. Rings or swivel attachments provide a system to connect horse and hay bag to the highline rope, away from the trees.


Hobbles:  Straps made of leather, nylon or biothane connected to animal's front legs to reduce pawing or restrict movement.


Dutch Oven:  Packing dutch ovens are made from cast iron or cast aluminum with a recessed lid to hold charcoal briquettes and legs to allow for briquettes under the oven to bake or cook fairly even temperature. 

Horse Sense Book.jpg

Horse Sense for the Trail Rider

Here for the first time, in one book, is all the information you will need to make your trail riding experiences safe and enjoyable. Includes chapters on what to carry in your saddlebags, riding in difficult terrain and much more.

Author and Illustrator: Melinda Codling
Publisher: Back Country Horseman of Washington, Inc., Tahoma Chapter
Copyright: 2002
102 pages / Paperback

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