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I was wondering how you might link a couple of young goats together on a lead when they are not carrying packs. I live in Sonoma County and after talking with the rangers in the local state and regional parks, I have been told I can take the goats on the trails as long as I keep them on a lead. Once they get use to hiking on a lead in groups of ones and twos, is there any way to take the whole string out at one time. I am hoping that once the rangers see how low impact the goats are while on the trail, they will allow them to be off lead. I am still trying to find some local areas that I can take the goats to where I can hiking with them off lead but until I do I don't want to do anything that might jeopardize having goats on the trails. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Hi Debra, unfortunately this is one of the few areas where other types of pack stock do much better than goats. While horses and mules are content to plod along on a trail in single file, goat are not. They are curious and energetic making them wander here and there as you travel. The result is that tying goats together (stringing them) is not easy. Its was discussed a while back on the forum under training issues. Here's the link viewtopic.php?f=30&t=63

As you'll see, taking two or three goats on a trail strung together is possible but the more goats you add, the bigger the problems. No one I know has successfully strung more than four and covered very much distance without constantly untangling them every few yards.

If I was going to spend much time training for this I would do the following things.
1) Hike them loose long enough to figure out what positions they want to be in naturally. This has a lot to do with pecking order.

2) Once I knew what order they wanted to hike in, I'd tie them together and pick a narrow trail to start with. Narrow trails will help them learn to stay in line. Usually you tie the goat to the saddle of the goat in front of it. Since you don't have gear on them your only option is to hold the lead ropes for both or tie it to the goats collar.

3) Start in twos and threes till they get the hang of what you want.

4) Figure out what method you are going to use to make goats get back in line if they decide to wander over in the bushes to eat, go around a tree a different way or simply try to pass the goat in front. Walking back to help one goat will cause the lead goat to turn around as well and you'll have a birds nest mess of goats and lead ropes before you know whats happening. I can see a long stick or squirt bottle being effective for moving goats in the right direction from your position at the head of the procession. The longer the pack string the harder this is going to be.

5) Take a big dose of patience before you head out. Its going to be frustrating and aggravating untangling and sorting them out every few yards.

I think its possible to achieve with a lot of work and trial and error. Its just not something I would be willing to go through. I much rather take them two at a time and enjoy the outing rather than turn the hike into a dreaded affair that none of us would enjoy.
 

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I have done it with two goats only. The only thing I would add to Rex's post is to walk pretty fast. If you are just strolling along they will tend to wander more but if you are walking fast then they are constantly trying to keep up and hopefully will get in less trouble. :D
 

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My 3 boys have been walking in thier suburban neighborhood on a lead since very young. The pet shop had a large double dog lead. The lead was made with a swival between the goats. 2 goats can switch positions with out problems. The 3rd goat, my alpha, walks on a separate lead holding the rear position. This works well on road walks. We use it on hikes for brief times around horses or dogs.
IdahoNancy
 

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When I hike around my 3 + mile block with my goats I have to have them on leads for part of the trip. It is about .2 miles down to the stop sign and then I have to turn left onto a fairly busy road and walk on the wrong side due to the fact that the right side has no shoulder and the wrong side has a great, wide shoulder. Still, there are cars and semi trucks exceeding the speed limit by a LOT on that road and it is a scary three tenths of a mile for us. So from home to two tenths of a mile past this section I have to hang onto my 6 packers to keep them safe from cars and visa versa.

That being said, I usually don't exactly string them, I hold the leads in my hands and they come along with me.

Holding 6 lead ropes is perhaps not very fun but my goats are so used to this little procedure that they seldom make the ropes tight and while they do move back and forth a few times and I have to move the ropes from one hand to the other, it all works fairly well. As many folks have stopped to point out to me, my goats walk better on a lead than most dogs.

There is an order and I know which goats to put with whom.

On the trail I'm hopelessly lazy and when we are doing training hikes I sometimes don't even have ropes for my goats, or halters but some have collars. I carry 2 lead ropes in one hand, a bonk stick in another and off we go. They are such a bonded herd that if any danger happens they cluster around me and our LGD, Whitney, does her thing.

The bonk stick (a nice, stout, ax handle, I've had the thing for years) is for strange dogs or humans, NOT for my goats!

All I can say is, talk with your rangers and explain why stringing goats is not a terribly safe thing and that loose goats will follow and will do less damage to themselves and the terrain than strung goats.

I'd go with just 2 or perhaps 3 if they have to be on a line the entire time more will just be trouble should a dog come up and cause them to cluster about you. Explain this to the ranger, that goats, when scared, will run to you and cluster about you to try and ward off the threat as a group. If they are strung together your goats are in danger from dog attacks and you are in danger from all that rope!

Also, find a place where they can be loose and walk them there instead.

Charlie Goggin
Lightfoot Packgoats
 
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