First multi-day pack trip!
A definite calendar contender.
Unfortunately it's not big enough. I had to zoom way in to get the close-up. Oh well.
Really enjoyable read- the photos are amazing!
Finn and Sputnik are such handsome guys. Very impressive effort from you all. The photos of you two resting together is so special.

Your steep descent saddle issues seem to sum up what my research is also turning up re: rigid or soft saddles. Seems like there are certainly very good saddles on the market, but still some compromises to be made no matter which style is selected.The club president from my carriage driving club is a saddle fitter- wonder what he will make of me asking him to fit my goats once they are all grown up and ready to pack?!
Yes, saddle fitting is definitely an issue with these goats, and I'd also love to hear what your saddle fitter friend has to say. The original wooden saddles were designed for Alpines, which have narrow and very straight backs. Modern packgoats, on the other hand, are often mixed with meat breeds or are selected from more muscular dairy lines, so they tend to have much broader backs, often with a bit of sway in them compared to the old style Alpines. This means the wooden saddles just don't fit well. And even a well-fitting wooden saddle, when fully loaded, can slide forward just enough on a steep descent to hit the shoulder blades and make the goat sore next day. This happened to Finn. I wonder if it would help if our wooden saddles could be designed with a slightly upturned front edge to soften that angle against the shoulder and deflect the impact a bit. You really can't stop a loaded saddle from hitting the shoulders on a steep descent, but you could change the angle of the front edge just enough to soften the impact I think. Horse saddles have an upturned front edge to allow for shoulder movement ahead of the saddle, but goat saddles do not. The straight edge can be quite severe on a downhill slope, even if the saddle fits well in other situations.

Soft saddles, of course, will never be as stable as the rigid ones, but when you have a broad, sway-backed goat like Sputnik you don't have a choice. None of the rigid trees come close to fitting him at all. I'm thinking of trying a mini donkey saddle on him. Matt Lyons of Bantam Saddle Tack makes them and told me it might be a better choice for Sputnik. If I try it out and it fits decently, I'll be suggesting that Matt market them for wide goats. I think a lot of our packgoat buddies would benefit from wider saddles. I even wonder if the Nubian reputation for laziness is partly due to the fact that our standard Alpine-designed saddles have never fit them. Nubians generally have wide backs with a prominent dip like meat goats. They are complainers, so if the saddle doesn't fit, they're going to let you know about it in any way they can--even if it means laying down in the trail and refusing to move. Maybe Nubians could pack if they had saddles that didn't hurt them with every step.
How about grabbing a slab of pine, gluing it to the flat part of the saddle, and sanding it down to a curve to match what you think is a good fit for the goat. In other words, add a little wood to fill the gaps. I think that'd be a really interesting experiment.
I don't drink beer, but if I did, I'd prefer Dos Equis.  Stay thirsty my friends!
That would only work if the saddle were too wide. As is, adding a slab would actually make our problem worse because it would make the saddle even narrower.
Ha, a mini donkey saddle, now that is thinking outside the box, great idea! Will be interested to see how that works out for Sputnik.
I suppose with saddle design, that horses will let you know quite quickly- and potentially dangerously- if the saddle is a poor fit, goats seem less likely to make such a fuss so there is no great motivation to improve the range of fit ie. as you suggest Nanno, an upturned front edge.

This thread was rather amazing- the photos...oh my!!!!
Some goats will let you know if the saddle doesn't fit too, but some people don't read the signs. Some folks don't read the signs with horses either and often chalk their behavior problems up to poor training or other things, when all the horse really needs is a properly fitting saddle. Goats are the same way. When I see a behavior problem with a horse or goat, the first thing I look into is saddle fit. The animal has to be comfortable before he can do his job happily and to his full potential. Sputnik just about knocked my teeth out with the crossbuck one time when I used a wooden saddle on him. It wasn't a terrible fit (so I thought), and the saddle was not heavily loaded, but it still made him uncomfortable enough that when I tried to get something from the panniers he refused to let me touch him. Phil caught him and made him stand still, but when I touched the pannier he jumped straight up and almost hit me in the face with the saddle. Sputnik was never fussy about me messing with his Sopris saddle, so I knew it was not a training problem. He just wanted to let me know that the wooden saddle pinched!

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