Trailhead Supply Blog

We are Moving!

HUGE NEWS!! We are moving! To make this move happen we will be closed from 09/27-10/07. We will be opening at our NEW location on October 8th at 9am. Our new address will be 1007 Hwy 2 East, Kalispell, MT 59901. Online orders will continue to ship while we are closed. If you need to reach us email is best, as our phone lines will be down for part of the move as they transfer to our new building. info@trailheadsupply.com Come see us before we move! Please plan ahead and pick up the feed you will need before we move!

If you didn't catch our Facebook live you can see it here: 

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Missing, now what?

The sun is just starting to rise. You’re the first one up, the fire is going and you turn the stock out to graze, you turn and pour that first awaited cup. As you turn back to enjoy the sunrise, that big hot cup of joe, and the beauty of grazing horses in that glorious meadow you picked to make camp in…you realize you’re all alone… Where did they go?, they couldn’t have left!!! They were just here. They couldn’t have disappeared that quick. I only poured coffee…one cup of coffee, just one cup!!!  What the ……you’re yelling their names, you have now woken everyone up in camp. You retell the story and you keep saying I only poured one cup, just one cup.

So, what’s next? The search begins… Some folks go and become trackers some go back to the fire and pour another cup hoping their faithful steed will wonder back through camp. All I know is we at Trailhead Supply get multiple calls every packing season about lost stock. I myself have found, or I should say someone’s stock has found me numerous times in the back country. The Bob Marshall Wilderness is over a million and a half acres, that’s a lot of real-estate to look for a lost horse or mule. Most of the time they’ll wander back to camp or back down the trail to your horse trailer, but not always.  One day I turned around in the saddle to check my pack string, about a mile from the trailhead, I had 3 extra horses in the string they stayed with me to my trailer. After I loaded I tied them to a hitch rail and as I drove by the forest service office I told them along with asking if they could put them in their corral. The next week on my way back I stopped and asked if they had found the owner of the horses. They did, the owners were looking for them 100 miles away from where they found me…

In the event you can’t find your lost horse or horses who do you tell?  For starters the land manager of the land you’re riding on.  Forest Service, BLM, State, etc. Live Stock or Brand Inspector, local tack shops, post on social media, and animal control, Yes! the dog catcher there is a good chance someone will see or find a lost horse that doesn’t know about horses so they call the folks they know.  Lost horses just don’t get lost in the back-country. Gates get left open all the time and down the street they go. Do us all a favor and know what your animal looks like, it is not just brown. There is a lot to learn when traveling in the back country and if you are new to all this don’t be embarrassed to ask how to safely tie up your horse. Have a great summer!

See you on the trail.

Andy

PS- have you ever lost or found a horse or mule? Share your stories and tips in the comments! 

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Farriers

The snow continues to melt. The trails are opening back up. The trail crews are back on payroll and earning every cent of that $10 an hour, running those crosscut saws from sunrise to sunset and then hiking to the next issue that needs addressed and cut out of the trail…Now that the trail conditions are improving the topic of conversation has changed around Trailhead Supply’s coffee pot. The hot topic of the week are farriers, shoeing the ponies. As the sun stays up longer and the trails are being cut open one of the big preparations we all have to do is get some steel nailed on the mules. Holy cow did the farriers union renegotiate??? I’m being attacked by every customer I have. What is your farrier charging this year? Who do you use? Is he any good? Is he taking new customers? But what does he charge? Its got so bad that I went in for my physical the other day and my doctor was quizzing me about farriers. Now, before you fill my inbox full of hate mail lets look at the big picture. The average rate in NW Montana is $90 to $100 per head. And some farriers charge mileage!!! Truthfully, that is what upsets me the most. I’m 57 years old and have been working since I was 11 years old, and I never got paid to drive to work…NEVER!!! So, now lets move past the mileage issue or I will be on that subject all day. I can only use myself as an example, and I know rates are different all over the country…so bare with me. The farrier comes to the house not to do just one…I have eleven and I help whoever the lucky one is. We can turn almost 2 and hour. That’s $200 an hour!! Well its not really $200 an hour they do have to spend $12 on shoes. At this point my doctor stops me and says, he doesn’t make $200 an hour and he has a decade of schooling and a lifetime of student loans to payback. So, as everyone continues to complain about the rates of shoeing this year and drinking my coffee…Remember they only get $100 a head because you're willing to pay $100 per head, don’t blame the farrier Its really all of our fault we hand him the cash. On a side note: maybe this is just a simple issue of supply and demand, and proof that the "trades" industry in the USA really does need some new blood willing to work hard and get their hands dirty. But now that you got new kicks on the horses lets hit the trail.

See you on the trail.

Andy

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It's Time...

It is officially here. That time of year where all at once everyone loads the ponies and heads to the hills.  It’s not a date on the calendar.  There are no Hallmark cards to send out celebrating the start of packing season, it just happens. It’s more like a calling. I can’t explain it, and you won’t really understand unless you pack. For the last couple of weeks every morning my phone starts ringing at 5:30 am. It’s all my packer friends driving across this big country we live in. They aren’t just bored driving mile after mile pulling that trailer load of mules to some pack station somewhere; they are excited about the season ahead. They tell stories to me of past trips and visions of trips yet to come.  I hear the woes of their journey so far; fighting with livestock inspectors while crossing state lines with stock. The joys of the new trail dog they picked up along the way, and trail conditions that are already filtering out of the hills back to civilization. It’s also that time of year when everyone drags out those beat up old pack saddles and hauls them into their local saddle shop with hopes they can be patched together for another season. There are some folks who finally do the math and put a pencil to it and realize it is cheaper to just buy a new saddle that dumping time and money into the saddle that has been with them for so many miles.  I love seeing those old pack saddles come through the shop for repair. Those saddles have a list of mule names wrote on them and crossed off every time that animal is replaced. Miles of memories, man if those saddles could just talk. The wreck stories have already started… Trying to string a green string together, or just adding a new young mule changes the whole dynamic of the string, oh and they’ll let you know who they don’t like behind them….For those of you that stop by Trailhead Supply and tell me how you have always wanted to pack…Now is the time, saddle up, get out on the trail and make some dust while making memories, Its time.. All of us at Trailhead Supply want to thank all of you for letting us be part of your miles of memories.

See you on the trail!

Andy

If you have any questions feel free to reach out to us we are here to help you.

Photo credit: @2Bar6mulepacker

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Tell Someone!!

The sun is out, the snow is melting, and you’ve got shoes on the ponies. You’re ready to go…Where are you going??? You poured over maps all winter, at least half of you reading this called me once or twice and asked about this trail or that trail head or my thoughts on securing animals on your first overnight camping trip with your horses. So, all that freshly oiled tack and all the new gear you got for Christmas is loaded in the horse trailer. All you need to do is put fuel in the tank, load the stock in the trailer, and throw some adult beverages on ice and your off to see new country. Did you tell anyone where your going?  Whenever I teach a packing class I always say the number one thing to remember is take care of number one!  YOU are number one. When the pack string is blowing up don’t cowboy up and try to ride out the storm this seldom works …trust me!!!  Just let go of the rope, take care of number one. Live to fight another day.  When out trail riding you normally aren’t close to help if things don’t go quite as planned.  We all think we are invincible. But we aren’t… So, before you pull out of the driveway let someone know where you’re going, when you’ll be home, and if you are married to someone like my wife...don’t call the national guard in until this date.  Make a copy of your map and draw your plans on it and leave it with all the trip info.  This applies to a quick after work ride as much as it does to a 14 day across the Bob Marshall Wilderness trip. I’m listed as the emergency contact for a pile of my customers…they file their trip plan with me and normally the wife has my cell number in case no one shows when they said they would. I made a sheet up years ago and I fill out all the info from where I’m going, to those cell numbers of those with me.  I hang it on the same kitchen cabinet door every trip. I started passing out these sheets in the hunter ed classes I teach and now packing classes and clinics too. There was one elk trip I failed to contact my wife on and she called my partner in crime, my daughter, Sydney at 2am.  Sydney checked google earth and saw I was sending messages off my personal locator.  My wife said “it’s dark” Sydney told her mom “Well Dad might not be with them but his pack string is doing 3.2 mph and on the trail about 3 miles from the trail head go to sleep all is good…” Feel free to use my info/contact sheet or make one of your own…Just tell someone!!!

See you on the trail!

Andy

Trip Info Sheet Click Here

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