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How Zinkel Long Ears & Pack came to be...

I’ve been horse and mule packing for about the past 45 years. During that time I have tried various types of equipment and have gotten ideas on how to improve it and make things easier on us and our stock.

About 25 years ago I moved to Scott Valley, California, which is an area where there was a lot of gold mining in years past. During the Gold Rush era, the packers in this area developed what is known as the “Salmon River Pack Saddle”. This Saddle was developed because it was necessary to carry tremendously heavy loads by mule into the rugged mountains around the area. Some of the mules carried up to 350# on their backs. This saddle was developed and used exclusively because it allowed the animals to carry these loads with much less hardship on them. The design of the saddle allows the weight of the load to be spread out over a larger area of the animal, and provides a lot of padding and a method to keep the packs from hanging directly on the sides of the animal, allowing them to breathe more easily and not become rubbed and sored by the packs. These saddles are still the most commonly used pack saddle in this area.

Once we started using them, we quickly realized how much easier it was on our pack animals. Since there are not very many people around who still build these Salmon River saddles, I decided to learn from one of the locals who made them and start making them myself. I then started building them as a “hobby” during the winter months when I couldn’t be packing into the mountains.

Once I purchased the big sewing machines and other equipment, I started building other pieces of equipment and tack also, and started selling custom made items to local packers and others who heard about me thru word of mouth.

Since then I began getting more and more requests to build items for more and more people. So, I decided to turn it into a real business.

I make all our products individually by hand and sewing machine. Nothing is mass produced. I will customize just about anything I make to suit your needs, if so requested. I take pride in building quality products, using quality materials. If you are not satisfied with an item, I guarantee to do what I can to make it right or replace it. If any item should ever have any stitching come loose, it will be re-sewn at no extra charge - no matter how long you have had it.

Since I do so much custom work, I do not keep a large supply of all materials on hand at all times. I am also retired so during the summer months I am often off either packing or doing trail work in the mountains. Sometimes there will be a short (or sometimes a bit longer in the summer) “build” time after an order is received. The customer will be notified if this is the case, and an expected date of shipment will be given.

If you have any questions about any of our products, please feel free to Email me at
(If the email address in the above link does not work for some reason, please use our alternate email address)


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