Goat Tips

Compiled by High Uinta Pack Goats and Northwest Packgoats. Click Here to Download our Goat Tips.

The Bare Basics
Do not allow anyone to squirt your goats for fun. They trust you to praise them when they do well and correct them when they mess up. If the goat gets squirted for no reason it will be confused and may think it has done something wrong.
Do not allow the goat to do something sometimes and then correct it for doing it at other times. Decide what is acceptable behavior in the beginning and stick with it. Be consistent!
Do not grab a goat by the horns, they don't like it. It will cause them to start using their horns when interacting with people.
Do not holler and carry on at your goat for reasons beyond their control. Like the smashed thumb you got hammering the nail into the loose hayrack. A trusting relationship is built around consistency.
It is not recommended that you tie or highline the goats and leave; you are putting them at risk and they do not like to be left alone.

Loading Panniers- try to keep the volume close to the same in each of the side panniers. The side panniers should weight within ½ pound of each other and the top duffle pannier should not weight more than one side pannier. Secure the items inside so they do not shift to the side with the two straps inside. Load only soft or smooth items that will be next to the goat in the side panniers. Pull all draw strings closed and tuck inside.

Saddles- Give the goat a good brushing before saddling and after saddle is removed. Check saddle pad and strips for burs and sharp items stand on left side of goat and place the saddle forward on goat and slide back into place (the wood part just aft of the shoulder blade) do not slide saddle forward on goat place butt strip into position and lift the goats tail. Attach the chest strap with the clip then do up the sternum strap should be about 1" aft of the front legs when tight you should almost get one finger between the goat and the strap at the bottom. Now take each leg at the knee and lift up to at least a 90 to pull and stretch the skin so it will not bind when walking. Make sure the yellow strap is between the saddle and the pad before synching down saddle.

Hanging the panniers- support the weight of the first pannier until the second one is on so not to twist the saddle. Do up the center strap and pull to just take up the slack and a little more so it is not on the goats sides but not so much that it can rock side to side then place the top duffle on and snap all 4 clips and secure with the yellow strap tight.

Attach the leash so it will not drag where the goats can trip or become tangled in it, but where you can get to it fast if needed.

It is not recommended that you put equipment on the goats that you are not willing to carry yourself; for that get a horse. A goat is a hiking companion as well as a pack animal.

On The Trail
Things that would make a goat want to stop or lay down are saddle sores or rubs, injuries, and sharp objects poking the goat from the backside of the panniers or saddle pad. If the goat doesn't want to go, you should take some time to make sure everything is ok, before going on. Keep this in mind when loading panniers and put soft conforming materials against the "goat side" of the pannier.

Also remember the goat is hauling most of the weight, slow your pace down or you will wear him out early. If the goat is breathing hard or panting slow down or stop and rest.

It is normal for goats that are hiking loose to stray 30-40 yards away to eat while you travel. They will run to catch up only to stop and nibble a tasty plant and let you get ahead again. They will rarely let you get out of sight though. This eat and run behavior will decrease as the goat tires after a couple of miles. Most goats file in behind you, plodding steadily along on the trail.

If you have more than one goat, you will notice that they seem to compete for positions on the trail. After they get it worked out, remember the hiking order. If you have to tie the goats together in a string, tie them in the right order. It will make the difference between an orderly hike and a tangled mess.

When a goat stops in front of you to eat and blocks the trail keep walking and go around his back side the best you can and he will then turn and start walking again just as you pass him. If unable to pass then act like you are and make the same noise like walking in place, or gently pull on his tail with a "lets go". Remember if you stop, they all stop.

Remember that goats are a herd, your group must stay together and in sight of each other or the goats will become disorganized, scattered and stressed. A good herd (people included) stays together for mutual protection to the goat mind.

Water: Goats do not like to get there feet wet or be in the rain but will if need to. When crossing small or large streams let the goats see where you crossed they will rock hop across, jump, look for another way or just walk through and get wet. Do not cross and then stop on the other side they will not cross. Keep moving about 20 + yards and call for them they should follow if not you may need to lead them across be careful and don't fall in. If they stop to drink pause till they have all had the water they want then move on.

Goats are very social animals they like to stop and visit with other people on the trail, If you see other people coming down the trail take hold of the leash, lead the goats past until the people are out of sight, and tuck the leash back under the panniers, all without ever stopping. Also if people are coming up from behind and need to pass it is best to move off the trail and let them got out of sight before moving on.

Trail etiquette: All livestock have right away over hikers, Bicycles, and ATVs. Horses and mules have right away over goats. Most horses and mules are spooked by goats, when seen let them know you are there and you have pack goats and if they could stop wile you get to the LOW side of the trail about 30 feet or more and stand still while talking to the horse people as they pass so not to spook the horses (when a horse spooks it will most likely run uphill). Llamas and goats should be ok side by side on the trail. Use good judgment, common sense and be polite

Dogs: Have all people control their dogs as most all dogs will want to chase and bite the goats if this happens do what you need to too disable the dog (try using the water first, then a big stick) be careful handling strange dogs you may get bitten.


Well Behaved In Camp
At end of day remove saddle and panniers as one unit brush goat down good and apply bug spray if needed and let browse in or near camp. Place all equipment together under a tree or cover to keep dry, run ropes for highline for night time, put rain tarp up for goats if needed, give each a vitamin B-1 and a treat, and offer them some water from the dish after you have tied them for the night before you go to bed.

Once at camp the goats are usually left loose. Teaching them camp manners is simply teaching them what things they are not allowed to do or areas they are not allowed in.

Rule Number One: Don't ever chase a goat away from the scene of its crime. You cannot catch it and the goat knows it. Just making it leave the areas is not a correction. In the goat's way of thinking it won the confrontation and you may actually be teaching the goat to play games in which it tries to see how much stuff it can get out of the bag before dancing away just out of reach. To the goat this is fun, but to the humans in camp it leads to thoughts of goat murder. A correction is made by contact with the goat. Anything you squirt or throw that contacts the goats is the same as if you touched it. Be careful if you throw something to make sure it isn't going to hurt the goat. Pain is not necessary, only the verbal command and something to contact the goat and make it move away.

Rule Number Two: When teaching camp manners, NEVER feed a goat people food. Once a goat gets a piece of your bread or some of your potato chips you will be mobbed every time you eat. It is annoying for guests when the goats are pushing and shoving them, hoping for a hand out and potentially dangerous for children. Save the people food for people. If you are eating and a goat steps up for a sniff or nibble of your lunch tell it "NO" or "BACK" and make the goat back off. Squirt it or push it back with your foot. Don't pet or scratch your goat while you are eating. The goat will learn to go else where or at least keep its distance when you are eating. With a little thinking, you can adapt this training to include the whole cooking area. If you have an extra persistent goat (usually one that has been fed) then you may have to tie it while cooking and eating.

A little fore thought on your part can stop a lot of problems before they happen. If you leave panniers with great smelling stuff in them laying around, out of your area of control; then don't be surprised when the goats start poking into all of the bags pulling out clothes and food. Especially with new goats in camp always keep the food under your supervision. Do not allow any goat to sniff around any pannier bags. The bags should be an "off limits item" at camp. Using the command of "NO", point at the goat and back it up with a squirt or pine cone if necessary. BE CONSISTENT; don't let a new goat get away with any negative behavior without correction being made. Remember don't chase a goat away.

At night the food should be pulled into a tree in a "bear proof" manner. If there are no bears in your area then put the food inside the tent, or tie the goats up.

As far as the tent is concerned never allow any goats inside. Goats are one of the few animals that enjoy being inside and once in, they will charge in every time the door is open. If you are sleeping on the ground without a tent, then rely on the "BACK" command and a few well placed corrections to teach an acceptable zone around you so that you are not getting stepped on or peed on while you try to sleep.

Goats will get hypothermia if left in the rain and cold the same as people.

Goats will get Altitude Sickness the same as people: slow down, lighten their load, rest often, and offer water or energy drink. Do not over hike the first two days so you and the goats have time to adjust.

Talk calmly to and pet the goats thought out the day they need your approval and they will give you their best.

ONLINE PREMIUM: How to saddle a goat.
Pictures taken August 8, 2006 at the morning saddling on Highline Trail Trip in the High Uinta Wilderness of northeastern Utah.

Collect the goat. Brush his coat down firmly and be sure he is free of debris on his body. Bruch with the grain of the hair. Double check the "underarm" as this collects pine sap and other sticky things. Remember to talk to them, they seem to like it more.

Josh with Io.

Check the saddle pad for debris, clear all such from saddle. Even one blade of grass can cause chaffing with a load on the goat; it's like having a foxtail stuck in your sock that you can't get out.. If you have help, one person should hold the goat so he will not try to eat while being saddled. 

Clay & Perry with Goatee.

Position the pad and saddle as a unit, sliding from neck to back with grain of the hair. Most saddles should sit one knuckle length behind the shoulder blade. (Northwest has a saddle that does fit on the shoulder blade and is the one seen in this picture.) Place the butt strap -left tail free- then the chest strap. Secure the girth belt at least two or more finger widths behind the armpit. An adult person should be able to just get two fingers snuggly underneath the strap.  Be aware that a few goats – like horses – tend to “puff up” at this point, so recheck just before loading panniers on.

Clay & Perry with Goatee

Pull the front legs gently forward with the goat's knee bent.  This is a very important and often forgotten step. Normal saddling “bunches” the skin off the “underarms” and frequently causes chaffing. Pulling each leg forward after the girth is tightened frees the skin to move freely as the goat walks and not chaff on the girth strap.

Charlotte with Capricorn

Finally, place and secure the pannier to the saddle. When placing the panniers if you have two people each attach one side pannier and gently release the weight onto the goat together so it does not off balance the goat.  If you are alone, attach near side and rest weight of pack on your knee while attaching far side pannier, ease weight on both sides onto goat at the same time. Attach any “across the top” stuff and you are ready to go. Confirm that all buckles and straps on panniers are secure.

Clay & Ed with Taz

1. From I-80 southwest Wyoming

2. Take exit #5 (Wy-89 N/WY-150 S/Front Street)

3. Head South for about 11 miles. (If you need gas first, you need to go into town to the north)

4. Turn left onto CR-173 (marked with recreation sign for Sulfur Creek Reservoir)

5. Heading east go 3.2 miles (road will turn south again, and becomes dirt after about 2 miles)

6. Turn right onto CR-167 (right angle up hill, no advance signage. If you pass the “Piedmont Ghost Town” sign, you missed the road.)

7. About 0.6 miles you will find a street sign for Spring Creek Road; (first intersecting road you come to) turn right.

8. Go about 0.7 miles to bottom of hill.

9. 614 Spring Creek Road is on the left. (House with detached garage and red roofing tiles.)



1-877-packgoat (722-5462)

  307-701-GOAT (4628)

 614 Spring Creek Road
       Evanston, WY 82930


High Uinta Pack Goats has been providing the public with pack goat rental services and training programs since 1994. Our business originally started out as a hobby to provide a family member with debilitating health problems a means of enjoying the hiking and camping activities she loved.