I’m an animal lover and a few years ago my family purchased a few horses and my sisters, and I started taking riding lessons.
It took me a while to get used to it, but it was fun once I’d gotten into it. Now, horses are popular on farms and homesteads as vehicles both for people and gear-hauling.
This is because they’re big, muscular animals that can carry large loads with relative ease.
When it comes to emergency situations, you’ll need a sure-footed partner for the trail so that you don’t end up in trouble.
So, what are some of the best breeds to use as packhorses? Well, let’s find out!
What is a Packhorse?
Well, a packhorse is exactly what it sounds like; a horse that carries your gear. If you’ve seen a few cowboy movies, you know what I’m talking about.
The cowboy rides one horse while leading the other one. The other horse, of course, has all his supplies on its back. Food, extra gunpowder, extra water, you get the idea.
It’s the same nowadays if you’re going on a long-haul trip (i.e. you’re bugging out), you need to carry certain supplies with you.
Of course, your horse isn’t going to manage you and all the stuff you need to carry. Hence the need of a trusty packhorse.
Yes, mules are considered packhorses by virtue of their breeding. Male donkeys breed with mares, and we get mules (females are called hinny’s).
Mules can carry between 150 and 300 pounds (68 – 136 kilograms) and can pull carts weighing around 400 pounds (181 kg) by themselves; yes, they really are that strong.
They’re also known to be very territorial so don’t intrude on their space because they will go for you. Of course, mules are also known to be very loud and stubborn animals.
Donkeys, like mules, are very sure-footed – provided their hooves are properly maintained – and can be ridden fairly easily.
They’re just not the quick type, preferring to just plod along at their own pace. They can traverse incredibly steep terrain with ease and have great endurance.
Donkeys are also stubborn and highly territorial and will gladly kick and bite intruders.
Like mules, donkeys can also be quite loud and always sound like they’re laughing – which is rather embarrassing when you’re thrown by a horse and hear one of these guys in one of the nearby paddocks.
3. Mini Horses
Aw! He’s so cute! Don’t let their small size fool you, these little guys are quite strong. Now, obviously, their size does mean they have physical limitations as far as what they can carry.
They can carry weights of 10 to 15 pounds and don’t require much grazing space as they don’t eat as much as their full-size counterparts.
Quick, agile, and beautiful, the Morgan was initially bred for farm work, but their speed and agility have seen them transition to being bred almost exclusively for equine sports.
Of course, horses are generally easy enough to train, so using a Morgan on your farm for transport or gear-hauling is certainly a viable option.
Halflingers are big, they weigh around 1000Ibs and are incredibly intelligent. They’re also very docile and easy to work with which makes them ideal both for farm work and sports.
If you’re looking for an emergency vehicle or a packhorse these guys are pretty good at both.
Percherons are known to do farm work and can be ridden easily even by novice riders.
They’re easy to work with and are great around children; you still have to take precautions though, as they weigh a solid 2000Ibs.
They’re pretty easy to work with and make good riding horses. With a bit of training, you could use them for gear-hauling too.
The Clydesdale is possibly one of the biggest horses I have ever seen. These guys have a sweet temperament and are very intelligent.
They were initially bred as war horses and then adapted to farm work – pulling carts and plows with ease. Like the Percheron, they can be riding horses or packhorses.
These are more packhorse than riding horse; they have a very wide girth (I guess that’s a nice way of saying they’re on the round side) which makes saddling and mounting a trick and a half.
Even if they’re not great riding horses, they’ve got a very stocky, sturdy build and can carry heavy loads with relative ease.
There is one thing to keep in mind, however, which is that they need to be shod regularly to avoid damage to their feet.
9. Tennessee Walkers
These big boys have great endurance and to say they can run fast is an understatement.
They have a broad build which makes it possible for them to carry large loads when used as a packhorse. Tennessee Walkers are easy to work with and eager to please so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting one trained up.
10. Quarter Horses
Even-tempered and easy to train and work with, quarter horses have a stout, stocky build which makes them great packhorses.
The fact that they’re so easy to work with makes them popular with ranchers/homesteaders and their even temperaments mean that your kids are relatively safe – as long as you’re around to supervise, of course.
Found in Scotland, Garrons were commonly used for farming in the highlands instead of the much larger Clydesdales.
These guys are tough! They have large, stocky builds, and are very sure-footed; this means they can work on steep slopes.
As far as their practicability as a packhorse goes, they’re traditionally used in the deer-hunting regions to bring the stags down the hill.
Hi Ho Silver! Away!
Well, that’s it, that’s our list of 11 best packhorse breeds. I hope you all enjoyed it and found it informative!
As always, thanks for reading! I’ll see you for the next one, but for now, I think it’s time to ride off into the sunset for a while. Take care everybody!
Hi Ho Silver! Away! – You have no idea how long I waited to make that joke!
Greg spent most of his childhood in camping grounds and on hiking trails. While he lives in the suburbs nowadays, Greg was raised on a small farm with chickens. He’s a decent shot with a bow, and a huge knife enthusiast. Find out more about Greg.