When Planning Your Pack Goat String…Build it Like You Would a Football Team
I get asked a lot about what breed is best for a pack goat and my answer is always the same. Build and plan your string to be like a football team. You will need receivers, line backers, linemen and a quarterback. (I heard this originally from one of my pack goat mentors, Dwite Sharp, who is also who I get all my goats from. You can listen to he and I in a podcast HERE.) Having all of one type of goat and temperament would be a negative for me…I like a mix of breeds, size, strengths, and attitudes. So I’ll break down “the ultimate string” and why I think the different types of goats are so important in that string. Now keep in mind, in some ways, we are trying to predict the “unpredictable.” What I’m saying is this will be a general guide but all breeds can be all spectrums and this is meant as a general guide to help you increase your odds. The fact is, there will be exceptions to all these rules, I’m just sharing with you how I plan as I add new kids to my string.
First off, let’s talk about the “star,” the Alfa or the string leader. I have never had the perfect string leader. My string leader…”Chester” is my strongest willed and one of my strongest, but he lacks the “jerk” necessary to control the other goats behind him. He has everything except that. As a result, he is constantly up my butt avoiding the less strong willed, but bigger “jerks” behind him and he lets them pass occasionally. Then I have to deal with them, grrrr. The perfect string leader will be the combination of all three traits…jerk, will and strength. In my opinion and experience that will almost always be a pure Alpine. So I like to have a few of those in my string…but it’s not all I want…that is for sure.
I want some receivers and utility players as well. Goats that are happy to be mid string and get along for the most part. That is where I like my hybrids mixed with Alpines. Ober/Alpine cross, Alpine/Saber cross, and pure Obers. Those hybrids have a tendency to be great backups to the string leader…that will push him if he tires, but are ok pulling up the mid section on the trail. If you were to have multiple super strong willed goats that want to be at the front then you would be constantly dealing with undefined pecking order and that is a pain on the trail.
Lastly you need your easy going linemen in the back. My favorite goats for that, are my saber and saber cross’s. The are willing followers in the back and they are tanks that can take some heavy loads. They are content with their roll in the back and that makes everyone else content, because no one wants to be the last goat…(wolf bait). When you have one that happily assumes that position it makes everything easier.
One last note, if you are bringing babies along, they will always naturally want to be in front and just don’t know yet, they aren’t supposed to be there…DO NOT LET THEM. They will get in front of you and cause chaos to the rest of your string and the babies will always try to hold you up by stopping in front of you…no fun. Discourage them back a few times and the adults will do the rest of the work for you. But if you let them be where they feel safest (in front of you) you will be training a bad habit…don’t do it! Hope that helps and for more info on pack goat training click here. https://packgoats.com/training/