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Woodcraft by E. H. Kreps

Illustration TYING A DIAMOND HITCH


[Illustration: TYING A DIAMOND HITCH.]

There is another very simple way of tying a diamond hitch, which though not quite like the one described in detail, is the same in principle. It is shown very plainly in the three diagrams reproduced here. As in the first method the rope and cinch are thrown across the pack to the off side and the cinch is picked up from beneath the horse, then the rope is drawn up and hooked to the cinch, but the little twist is not put in the rope as in the first method. The free portion of the rope is then thrown across the pack to the off side so that it is parallel with and behind the first rope. Then double this rope on the top of the pack and push it under the first rope from the rear, as shown in Fig. 8. Now bring this loop back over and push it through again, as in Fig. 9, forming the small loop A. Now take the free end of the rope down under the pack on the near side, back and up at the rear, through the loop A again. This is illustrated in Fig. 10. The free end of the rope then goes down under the pack from the rear on the off side and fastens to the cinch ring. The rope is tightened the same as in the other method. This hitch is as good as the other and is more easily remembered, although not as easily tied as the one first described.

Either of these pack ties may be managed easily by one man, but they are tied more rapidly by two men, one standing on the off side and the other

on the near side, so that neither need walk around the horse. Then there is the additional advantage in that the rope may be drawn up tight and there is no danger that it will slip, as one or the other of the men can be holding the rope all the time the pack is being tied.

In addition to the pack ties described there is another hitch that should be learned as it is useful for securing packages to the pack saddle when alforjas are not used, also for holding packs to the sides of the saddle while tying the diamond hitch. There are several methods of fixing a sling rope and the mode I am going to describe is illustrated in Fig. 7.

For this purpose the shorter length of rope is brought into use. It is doubled in the middle and looped around the front forks of the pack saddle, then one-half of the rope is taken to the near side and the other is dropped on the off side. Taking either half of the rope, you allow sufficient slack to hold the pack at the proper height then bring the rope around the rear forks, then down to the centre of the slack portion, where it is tied. The pack is then fixed in this loop and the other side is arranged the same way. After both packs are properly slung the ends of the rope are brought up on top and tied together.

There are many forms of pack hitches other than those described, although the diamond hitch is most used and more popular than any of the others.

A pack horse should never be overloaded, and the animal cannot carry as great a load as many people expect. Two hundred pounds is the limit for any pack, and 150 is a more reasonable load. For long journeys the pack, per horse, should not weigh this much. A hundred or a 125 is all that should be allotted to any animal.

A pack train may consist of any number of pack animals, and if there are enough riders in the party one man rides between each two pack horses. I mean by that, one rider goes ahead leading a horse behind him. That horse is followed by another rider, then another pack horse, etc. If there are not enough men in the party for this, two pack animals are placed between two riders. The men may lead the horses if they are inclined to wander from the route, but ordinarily this is not necessary, as the animals will keep in line. But if you lead a pack horse do not grow tired of holding the rope and tie it to the horn of the saddle. This is a dangerous practice and may result in serious injury to the one who is so thoughtless, for the pack horse may become frightened and bolt or may swing around, wrapping the rope around the rider.

Pack horses are always more or less troublesome, and the man who uses them should have a bountiful supply of patience. At night the animals are hobbled, which means that their front feet are fastened together with hobbles, so that they cannot travel fast or far. Too much dependence should not be placed on these retarders, for Western horses soon learn to travel quite rapidly when thus impeded, and will sometimes set out for home while the master sleeps. A good practice is to picket one or two horses in the best spots of pasture to be found, and hobble the remaining animals. They are not so likely to leave if this is done, and if they do, the picketed horses must remain behind, which insures at least a mount with which to follow the runaways. Also put a bell on each horse, as this will aid in locating the animals in the morning.

Horse feed cannot be carried, and Western horses seldom get any food except what they can find at night or while they are not in use, and on the plains or in the mountains where vegetation is scanty they sometimes do not get as much as they require. Under such circumstances they should not be loaded too heavily, or traveled too far in a day, and it may even be necessary, on a long journey to take an occasional day of rest to allow the horses to recuperate.

[Illustration: ANIMAL TRACKS]

END OF WOODCRAFT


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