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First, I never pack much on young goats, they just get pillows or sleeping pads but only after they are large enough to really carry a saddle, after a year old.

At two years old I still don't pack more than 10% on them, which means a 200 pound 2 year old wether would not carry more than 20 pounds and likely with me they would carry a lot less just because they are yearlings. My yearlings only carry two down pillows in thier panniers so that they learn how wide they are and that they have a job on the trial. They feel very important but it is not hard on their bones and joints.

Mikey turns three in February and this year he will pack no more than about 12-15% max. When he is four he will pack 20-25% of his body weight and I do take them to the vet to weigh them to ensure I'm loading them the proper amount for their age but I'm also careful to make sure they are well conditioned for the type of hiking we will do and are used to the load. This plan of training a young packer teaches them that hiking is fun and creates a sense of accomplishment and the attitude that they can. If you overload them to young they feel defeted and tend to give up more easily later on.

We usually pack with 4 people and 4 goats. Sierra and Marina are small for their ages and cannot pack more than the barest of things, a light jacket, space blanket, small first aid kit, snacks and water. Randy carries about 45 pounds worth of photographic equipment, water and snacks.

I carry a light pack as my back will not tolerate more than about 20 pounds before both my legs go totally numb.

We load the sleeping bags into the panniers first, all of our bags are down and weigh almost exactly the same amount. Then other soft stuff near the goat like ground cloths or clothing, which is all in stuff sacks and marked with who's and what.

The pot and cook kit go on the outside and top of a pannier, the tent is a pyramid tent with a single pole, I carry the pole, the tent is made of silicon impregnated lightweight nylon and has a stuff sack, it only weighs a few pounds and sleeps 4 plus all of our gear, saddles and packs. The first aid kit is usually on me, the water filter again goes on the outside of a pannier. The tent stakes are on the outside as well in a little stuff sack. We pad the panniers with jackets or cloths so that the goat side is always comfy for the goat and nothing is poking.

I bring a fish scale along to weigh everything. The tie ropes and such go in the bottom of a pannier as they are not hard. I use prussik knots on little lightweight cords to tie the goats to my lowline when I lowline them. They each have their own line and collar or halter depending on the goat.

Bear canisters are great because they can go on top of a sleeping bag and are round and easily fit in the panniers. The sleeping pads go on top of differnt goats depending on who is carrying what. Gulliver carries Randy's tripod because his saddle (Rex's super whiz bang aluminum and resin model) is well suited to attaching the tripod and because he never seems to bash any of the gear on his back and is a careful boy.

The goats come up and line up in the morning to be loaded and again in the evening to be unloaded when we are in camp.

Gosh I love my goats!

Charlie Goggin
Lightfoot Packgoats
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