We were privileged to have Travis Sparks come by and do a packing demo the other day. Hunting is a totally different experience with horses. One hunter told me his story about finally getting his deer right at the end of the day, and was dreading the hike back uphill to the truck. Luckily some horse packers saw him, came down, and helped him quarter & pack out the deer. He would have been out there way past sunset without their help!
Packing isn't just about packing out quarters. Your mule or horse might have tent poles, a shovel, lawn chairs, your bedroll, coolers, cooking supplies, or feed on his back. When you throw in antlers into the mix, packing turns into a real art & skill developed through practice.
Travis is a member of the Back Country Horsemen of Utah & does a lot of packing himself. He gave us a detailed demonstration of the Double Diamond hitch, and answered several questions about packing.
Watch Horse Packing Tips & Knot How-To
I split Travis's presentation into two videos for you. First, you can see exactly how to do the Double Diamond knot on our trusted cavalry horse. This is a great hitch for top packing. Then, sit back and listen to Travis's question & answer session about packing elk antlers, using a pack scale to balance your load, using soft packs vs hard packs, and tightening a cinch.
Packing with a Double Diamond knot. Thanks to Troy Higgs for this picture!
Watch: How to tie a Double Diamond Knot
Use a 45-foot rope to make this hitch, which starts out similar to the box hitch. Make sure and pull the rope tight.
Watch: Horse Packing for Hunting Q&A
Where to get those Pack Bags
We make the pack bags shown in Travis's demo, these are the #663 designed for coolers. We also make a narrower bag without flaps, #1665, and #1666 with flaps.
How stiff or soft your rope is. Heelers want a stiffer rope that will hold open longer (to get under the hooves). Heading ropes are softer.
How we Dummy Rope at Smith & Edwards - & you can in your backyard!
You need 3 people: a header, a heeler, and someone to push the dummy.
The header checks in with his heeler, and nods to the person pushing the dummy when he's ready.
The header runs after the dummy and catches the horns or neck. Then, the header pulls the dummy straight, to the left, giving the heeler a good opportunity to get the rope under and around the dummy's back legs. Pull the rope tight (dally the slack), and you've got it!
How to Score
We timed each run, from the moment the dummy moves forward, with a stopwatch. We stop the timer when the dummy is both headed & heeled.
It has to be a legal head catch: both horns, half a head (1 horn), or around the neck. We added a 5 second penalty if only caught one heel.
Come Give it a Try!
Ready to rope, too? Come in to our Western department and pick up your rope & dallies. Or, click over to Shop for Roping Supplies on our website. We'll get you what you need!
There are all kinds of horse blankets out there, and we like the Equibrand especially. Keep your horse warm and dry from the snow and rain with a blanket that moves with them. This makes for less cleanup work for you, too!
Hoof Pads & Snow Boots
If you're venturing into the snow-filled hills on horseback, make sure and ask your farrier about ways to protect your horse. When you're shoeing your horse, you have several options that prevent snow buildup under the horse's hooves. Click here to see hoof pads and boots.
Snow buildup is extremely cold for your horse - plus, kt makes each tread slippery, instead of sure. Plus, the compacted snow adds pressure on the frog, so there are a few styles of hoof pads to keep your horse snow-free.
The Mustad no-snow tube-style hoof pads compresses, and pops back, which prevents the snow from building up on the hoof.
The other style, the Snowball black plastic hoof pad, presses a bubble down into the snow, keeping it away from the hoof and giving your horse a surer step.
Keep Yourself Warm
Known for their ranchwear, Schaefer vests & coats are designed to stand up to windstorms and blizzards that would make your eyes tear. Wool vests and jackets will give you years of use.
We love the Wyoming Traders line of wild rags. These 100% silk wild rags will keep you warm without weighing you down. We just got some new Aztec patterns in, and we've got both youth sizes and adult sizes in polka dots, solids, paisley, and more.
Silk is warmer than wool, it gets softer with wear, and naturally wicks moisture away.
Breaking ice in the trough - Wells is wearing a Stormy Kromer hat, and both boys are staying warm with wild rags!
If you don't have a felt hat, look at a good Stormy Kromer hat. We carry these hats in store and they are so popular! Made in a wool/nylon blend with 100% cotton flannel, these hats are made in USA and are called "an icon of the great American outdoors." This hat's been around for more than 100 years, and it's still made of six hand-stitched panels.
Don't let your fingers freeze! Draw on your foam-lined Yellowstone gloves - an old favorite for standing up to barbed wire, these elkskin and deerskin gloves have a foam-lined option for winter.
Whether you're working out on the ranch, or goin' out on the town, a young cowboy or a timeless one, some things just never change. Just how Wranglers have been around for what seems like forever and they have never lost their style.
As for the Egger family, passing on these timeless traditions to their kids, as well as adding some of their own, is a must.
We recently had this cute little family buy some of the 100% silk Wild Rags we sell here in our store. Afterwards, they sent us some beautiful photos they had taken of their young son, Colton, by Sallie Scott with Country Grace Photography.
Colton's set up camp and he's ready to play!
The photos turned out so cute! This little cowboy is a natural. And he's got on a Wild Rag! If that doesn't convince you they're good looking, I don't know what will.
The Eggers aren't the only family loving these scarves. Marty Thompson, our Western Tack manager here at Smith and Edwards, and his family also love them. His cute kids know a couple different ways tie a Wild Rag to be the slickest lookin' cowboy around. Click here to see Marty's son Wells show you How to Tie Wild Rags.
Besides being good looking, Wild Rags are really very practical. They can keep you warm in the cold, and wick away the moisture in the heat. Use them to filter out dust in their air and breathe through it, or to filter out dirty water to drink. And those are just some of their many uses!
They come in many different designs and colors, you can choose whichever fits you best. Here at Smith and Edwards, we happen to have a wide selection of Wild Rags to choose from. Click here to see Wild Rags.
So enjoy your own! Just like the Egger family, you can send us photos of how you use your Wild Rags! Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just like Colton, you can be toughest and most handsome cowboy out there.
Special thanks to Colton Egger, his dad Clint, and photographer Sallie Scott of Country Grace Photography!
The elk herd over on Highway 89 definitely exists. Check out those earrings!
Everyone knows about the elk herd over on Highway 89, north of Pettingill's and just across the freeway from us. Smith & Edwards, you may not realize, has been raising a mule herd for decades.
I wouldn't tell you a tall tale! These mules have been here in the yard since we started making tack back in 1979. We feed them corn cobs, pemmican bites, leftover MREs, all kinds of things.
That turns them a little blue, just like the mule hide. (Eeyore is a distant bloodline member).
Some times we bring these mules packing with us. They're great for elk quarters as well as bringing all types of fishing gear when we go out to Willard Bay!
Anyway, the reason we have Utah's biggest blue mule herd is to keep up with demand for mule hide horn wraps. And the first question we get from buckaroos and ranch hands is, what's the best way to install a mule hide wrap?
So, Marty made this video to see exactly how it's done. Check out his saddle string tip!
Why use a Mule Hide Horn Wrap?
Wrapping your saddle horn with a strip of mule hide will protect it, but that's just one benefit. Having this strip on your horn will act the opposite of a rubber dally: instead of gripping your rope, the mule hide practically turns to glass and allows you to feed the rope.
So how do you wrap a saddle horn with mule hide?
First, nail the end of the wrap to the bottom of your saddle. Then, bring the wrap up and over the swells. Here's Marty's tip: take your saddle strings and lay them under the wrap.
Then, wrap the mule hide around your horn, making sure to get the swells on your last loop. The last step of the wrap is pulling the end of the wrap underneath your first wrap, using Marty's saddle string trick.
Then, you can use an old shovel handle with a strip of leather to smooth & tighten the wrap, getting rid of any bubbles.
Did you know? The blue color comes from the chrome tan process for these leather strips.
Need some shade at the rodeo or playing after work? Our Western guy Marty can show you how to shape a palm leaf hat today in a Gus, Brick Top, & Buckaroo style.
He shapes these cowboy hats here at the store with a steamer, and you can shape yours with just a bucket of water at home - watch how!
Cowboy Hat Styles
In the Buckaroo style, you'll have a smooth bowl-shaped indent in the crown, round all the way around. Use a bowl or a ball to get this shape. Then you can raise the middle of the indent over another round shape, like a smaller ball, from the inside. You can also shape a nice lip in the top of the crown. The Buckaroo typically has a pretty flat brim, too.
This is the style of hat that Tom wore for his Trek outfit - he shaped it himself!
A Brick Top hat means you have four corners in the brim of the hat, and an even indent.
The most common styles of hat Marty sees is a Cattleman's crown and a Gus. The Cattleman is like the hat Marty's wearing: two dents running from front to back. The Gus is just like the Cattleman's, but the dents are only in the front of the hat.
How to Shape Your Hat at Home
To do this at home, fill a bucket with water. You can use cold water and let it soak a while, or lukewarm will speed it up a bit.
Start with the crown and use your fingers and thumbs to start the shape.
Move to the brim and shape your brim.
Now let it dry. You're all done!
Get a Hat of your Own
Get your own palm leaf hat from Smith & Edwards! We carry a HUGE selection of Sunbody hats, which is our favorite brand of palm leaf hat. These hats are Guatemalan-made and hold their shape nice after you shape them. They come in lots of adult sizes as well as kids' sizes.
Come in to Smith & Edwards in Farr West and we'll shape one up for you, too!
We get asked how to put a speed burner on a rope pretty often - so here's a 2-minute video showing you how to do it at home! Speedburners are so quick to put on & easy to use.
How to put a Speedburner on Your Rope
Speed Burners come in different colors!
Like Marty showed, all you need is your speedburner, your rope with a honda (click here to see how to tie a honda), and a microwave with a cup of water. Some wide pliers will do the job - Marty uses a handy pair of channel locks.
Nobody loves a good joke more than our Western department. They are infamous for their many pranks. Insomuch that when I joined Smith and Edwards I was even warned not to go over there on April Fool's Day!
So in light of April Fool's Day coming up I'm going to share with you some of their pranks that you might want to use for your own April Fool's pranks!
Drop for Drinks
When you bring up the topic of past pranks in the Western department, there is one that seems to be revered over all, even honored. If they had a Hall of Fame prank board, this would be at the top. They call it Drop for Drinks.
For this "game" you need a quarter, a funnel, and what's a good prank without ice-cold water.
Start by telling your "victim" the rules of the game. Entice him by telling him the loser buys drinks for everyone else. The idea behind the game is that you drop a quarter from your forehead in a funnel that you are holding up in the waist of your pants. When you make it in, you get to step out of the circle. The last one to catch his quarter buys drinks for everyone else. (I realize it sounds like you'd actually have to be drunk to play this game, but truth is, most our guys are water drinkers!)
Everyone gets in a circle and has a "practice round." When it's time for your "friend" to take his turn, wait for him to lean back to get his quarter ready. That's the time to pour ice-cold water down his funnel. But watch out. After the shock wears off you may need to run! Can you picture why this is a Western department favorite?
This next prank they were laughing so hard I couldn't always understand them! It involves a tarantula, a plastic container, and a co-worker with some serious arachnophobia.
One early morning Shaun came to work with a tarantula in a plastic container. Marty, their fearless leader, made a tarantula look-alike with a sheepskin for the body and dangling leather for the legs - all painted black. They tied it to an unsuspecting, unnamed co-worker's work apron. (They manufacture leather tack for their wholesale department right here in our store.)
When the man came in to work, Shaun was holding the tarantula in its case, looking around frantically. The co-worker asked what was wrong and Shaun told him that when he came to work that morning there were two tarantulas in that box and now there was only one! You could see the other guy glancing around nervously. He carefully went to his workbench and reached for his apron while still scanning the area anxiously. As he went to put his apron on he saw the tarantula Marty had made dangling off his apron.
Now at this point in the story they are laughing so hard it's hard to tell what they're saying.
The poor man couldn't stretch his arms out long enough to keep that apron away from him as he was screeching and backing up into the middle of the store. (We weren't open yet so there were no customers to watch the scene, thank heavens!)
He realized it was a joke when he finally noticed everyone laughing. In the words of Marty, "That's when he started breathing again."
More Drink Than You Bargain For
The next two pranks show that you should never leave your drink unattended back in the Western department.
Next time you see a fast food drink sitting around, try this favorite trick! All you need is the cup with a straw and lid, a packet of Arby's sauce (feel free to use Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or any other sauce you can find), and some tape.
While the owner is gone, take off the lid. Make a small slit in the Arby's sauce so the straw can just fit through. Secure it to the straw with tape and replace it in the cup with the lid. When he comes back he'll take a big swig and get a special surprise!
I love this one, but once again, you'll need your running shoes on!
The Leaky Pop Can
Don't let Marty get a hold of your pop can, or water bottle, or pretty much anything that you value.
Apparently he likes to use a razor blade to cut a horizontal slit about 1" down from the rim, right below the drink opening. The "victim" doesn't realize it's there and when he drinks he dribbles all over himself!
Oreo Horseradish Cookies
The next three pranks are simply irresistible!
Start by gently taking off the top of your Oreo. Carefully scrape out the middle of the filling, leaving just a thin outer layer. Fill it in with horseradish sauce, or something similar.
Replace the top of your cookie and replace in the Oreo package. Now you are ready to serve your delightfully deceptive treats!
Tabasco Sauce Donuts
This idea is a pretty simple concept that really packs a punch! First you need a box of store-bought donuts. (I suggest maple bars, but only if you're sharing with me.)
Fill a clean syringe with Tabasco sauce and carefully insert into the middle of some of the donuts. Your "victim" will see you eating donuts, so won't think twice about it when you offer him a Tabasco-filled one. Watch the pleasure turn to horror when he starts eating!
Chocolate Cupcake Surprise
Here's a story I've heard over and over again. I guess if they prank a manager it goes down in the history books!
One April Fool's Day Dani decided to buy some chocolate cupcakes from the store and add a little something of her own - black food color. She injected it in the middle of the cupcake with a syringe. (Apparently a pretty handy tool to have back in the Western department!)
Most of the cupcakes were untouched, and everyone was eating them - so when one was offered to our co-worker, he jumped at the chance.
He started realizing there was a problem when he saw black dye on his hands. Too late. His lips and tongue were black the rest of the day!
For this simple prank you just need an ink pad and some binoculars. Ink around the binocular lenses with the pad so that when the unsuspecting wearer looks into them, they leave him with a surprise he won't notice til someone tells him - or he looks in a mirror.
The guys in Western did this to a co-worker one time and he went most the day with the "ink spectacles" around his eyes before a co-worker from another department told him about it. Not saying it's nice, just saying it works. Hehehe
Glue Bottle Jump
I call this the Glue Bottle Jump because that's exactly what I did when they did this to me! You just need an empty glue bottle and some white 1/8" cotton cord.
Take an empty bottle of glue and clean out the nozzle well. Marty uses a big bottle of Tear Mender because that's what he uses all the time. Cut a 1/8" cotton cord about 12"-15" long and tie a knot at one end.
With the knot on the inside of the lid, insert the other end through the nozzle and make another knot on the open end. Now it is securely in place so it won't come out. Pull the thread back through the lid so only the knot is showing on the nozzle of the lid. Attach your nozzle back to the bottle.
Marty, the Western department manager is fabulous at telling stories. He leads you up to the prank by showing you some of his work, or how he makes something. Then, when the moment is just right and he is showing you the glue, he'll squeeze the bottle right at you and watch you jump.....and sometimes yelp. I've seen him do this to others and this harmless joke is always fun for a good laugh! Our friend Jeff was the last victim to his prank so we recorded it and you can see it below. Jeff says he doesn't get scared easily so we're pretty proud that we got any reaction out of him.
Thanks for being a great sport Jeff!
These are really only the beginning of the pranks and tricks you might find around here in the Western department. Maybe it'll give you some ideas for April Fools pranks you can use!
Got some fun April Fools pranks of your own? We'd love to hear them! Please share them below.
Love all things Western? Tom teaches us how to tie a honda in this informative and easy-to-understand video. Check it out here!
Smith & Edwards hosted our 1st Dummy Ropin' on Valentine's Day, February 14.
We're glad everyone who came had such a great time!
There were 3 rounds and a range of ages participating.... and some GREAT prizes, from Smith & Edwards gift cards to ball caps and patches from Smart Roping, Fast Back Ropes, Bailey, Bex, and more.
It was a ton of fun for the adults who came. And it was even more fun to see the kids having a blast, whether they brought their own rope & gloves or they were trying their hand at ropin' for the first time.
What do you think? Should we make a Dummy Ropin' a Smith & Edwards tradition like the Gun Auction?
You'll find 4-wheeler roping dummies, Shorty the Steer, and even tabletop roping dummies on our site! Click the picture to shop.
So now you're probably thinking, Hey, I need one of those roping dummies!
Well, they are a ton of fun. The one you saw is available in green and black. It uses 8 wheels and is real easy to push on a flat floor. We built our own chute-launcher, you can see in the gallery. I bet you could come up with a system that works for your family to use.