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Supplies for a trip on horseback


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I was having a pretty good dream. I was one of a gang of five or six outlaws, and we had decided that life would probably be better somewhere else. So we had started off down the road, headed for another place that was about 200 miles away. And I noticed, in my dream, but not only did we not have any food, none of us had a canteen on our saddle.


Fortunately there was a trading post right there, so we stopped in to supply. Just as we was about to start buying stuff, I woke up. Leaving me wondering what I would buy, if it was say 1885, and I was going off on a horseback trip of about 200 miles.


Even though there was a half dozen of us, I'm just buying for myself. If Joe wants to set out on this trip with a half a pound of beef jerky and 4 quarts of whiskey, he's going to get awful damn hungry, cuz I'm not going to feed him.


Slab of bacon? Two slabs? Coffee. How much? Ground, or get a grinder?


200 miles - 5-day trip? Longer? Shorter? Bread - get flour and soda to make biscuits, or just buy a couple of loaves of bread? Need a frying pan and a coffee pot. Can pretty much cook anything in a frying pan?


Get some airtights? Beans, tomatoes, fruit?


Canteens - not one of them one-quart suckers they show on the saddle horns in most westerns. Gallon. Maybe a couple of them. I think we're approaching, or have already reached, "we need a pack mule".


What would you take on this little trek?

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Yer gonna die.


When I did multi day treks in my younger days I took a quart tin cup, half pound bag of corn meal or grits.  Dried or salted meat usually divvied out as a per meal thing not weight. Coffee also per day, salts pepper's and such. In a small leather backpack or haversack

Water was a wax lined gourd canteen if there was a base camp I had about a gallon, walking about a quart. 

I cooked in the cup and boiled water in it that I found


Beans need to soak a lot to cook. Parched corn is good road food. Pemican also. 

I didn't do much horse work but my understanding is the horse makes the trip less tiring cause he carries stuff so you don't have to. But to keep from tiring him out you go about walking pace. Short distance run maybe but run him too hard and you have a dead horse.


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I'm afraid you'll have to buy yourself a couple of these if your list gets too big. :blink:



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For six full growed fellas I might start thinkin wagon?

Thats six men and six horses too.

A lotta stuff.

And a couple pack critters need to eat too. Unless you plan on eatin them??




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Funny. I thought horses and mules ate grass. There's lots of grass around where I live. Just 'cause I'm going on a trip in 1885 don't mean I'm crossing the Great American Desert.

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3 pound slab of bacon, tin cup, one pound of Corn meal and small bag of salt and pepper, pack the salt and pepper in the cup and place it in the right saddle bag.

Left bag, frying pan, coffee pot, wood matches, small tin of lard inside of coffee pot and a box of cartridges .

This and a couple of small critters shot along the way, has kept me in fine fiddle for over a week many a time .

And a three quart canteen ... plus a gallon waxed canvas water bag if going into drier climes .


Jabez Cowboy

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You can push a horse, on flat ground, about 25 miles a day.  But not for long.  Figure maybe 15 to 20 miles a day.  Based on US Army rations of that era and some guesswork from reading about cattle drives, you will want about 2oz. to 3oz. of coffee per day, about a pound to a pound and a half of flour or cornmeal a day (maybe get self-rising flour).  A pound or so of salt pork or dried beef per day.  If they can be had, some onions, maybe some dried apricots or dried apples, desiccated vegetables - an ounce or two a day, salt and pepper.  


You will likely want a second horse, unless you want to be walking 100 miles of that 200 miles (ride an hour, walk an hour), plus a pack mule.  In fact, if you are in mountainous country, forget the horse and ride a mule.   Don't forget grain for the horses.


As TJ said, you will do most of your cooking in your tin cup, or on a hot rock, or on a stick.  MAYBE a small sheet metal skillet.  For water you might want a couple of quart canteens.  Remember, water is heavy, "A Pint's a Pound the World Round" so most of your water will be what you come across on the way.  

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24 minutes ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

You can push a horse, on flat ground, about 25 miles a day.  But not for long.  Figure maybe 15 to 20 miles a day

That is surprising. I had read somewhere, many years back, the average day's horseback was 10 miles. I thought one of the reasons men started riding horses was so you could go further.


When I was 17 we hiked to summer camp. Right at 70 miles, 6 days. And day one was 22 miles, because we all needed a 20 miler to finish hiking merit badge. So over the next 5 days we hiked 48 miles. That's almost ten miles a day, carrying full packs. Boys down to 11.


I really thought you could do better on a horse.


How 'bout dat. I just went and checked, and duck duck go agrees with my memory. 70 miles.



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From True west Magazine


I’ve heard Westerns state “something” is a day’s ride away. How far was a day’s ride in the Old West era?


The distance would depend on the terrain, but a normal day’s ride would be 30 to 40 miles. On hilly terrain, a horse could make 25 to 30 miles. If the land was mountainous, one might go 15 to 20 miles.

A well-conditioned horse could occasionally make 90 to 100 miles a day—with sufficient rest and feed—but horses did not do that often.


Remember your horse has to be in good shape. While grass will fill their belly, horses will need grain if you expect them to travel far and stay healthy.

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