Rifle Scabbards and Shotgun Scabbards
I personally hang my rifle scabbard on the off-side of the horse. The butt is toward the front at about horn height and the rifle barrel angled slightly toward the back. Here's why:
- The barrel of the rifle extends under my stirrup leather and I never know it's there.
- This keeps the weight on the front quarters of the horse where he can carry it best.
- I hang my rifle scabbard on the off-side of my horse so that on the off chance I should spot game while in the saddle, I can pull my rifle out before I dismount.
Also, if you hang the gun scabbard on the near side of the horse, it adds that much more weight to tip the saddle when mounting. Hanging the gun scabbard on the off-side can help offset your weight when mounting.
If you use an open-ended leather or nylon rifle scabbard and hang it with the butt toward the rear, be aware that your rifle could end up missing. I have heard many stories where folks have found their rifle way back on the trail (or not at all) because they never knew it had been snagged on a branch and yanked out of the gun scabbard.
In terms of actual attachment, most rifle scabbards have two sets of straps. I loop the strap by the butt of the rifle through the gullet of my saddle. I attach the lower strap to my flank cinch dee ring. If you want to attach your rifle scabbard with the butt toward the rear, attach the upper strap to any available dee ring on the back of your saddle. Or, if you don’t have rings, tie the scabbard on by running your saddle strings through the strap on the scabbard. Then attach the lower strap to the front rigging ring. These are just suggestions. Most scabbards will have straps long enough to offer you many options of attachment to position your rifle scabbard where you want it.
When hanging a bow scabbard on my saddle, I secure it to the rear of the saddle behind the cantle and angle it slightly forward so that my bow is facing toward the rear with the quiver to the outside. I prefer this attachment so that my horse is free to turn tightly to the right without being hindered by the bow. And once again, the weight of the bow and bow scabbard are on the opposite side from me when I mount the horse, helping to offset my weight as I mount and dismount.
I use my saddle strings in the rear to tie the bow scabbard on through the upper straps. My wife’s saddle has rings on the back, so she loops the straps through these rings. I attach the lower straps to my front rigging ring.
Pack Saws and Camp Axes
I prefer to attach my saw scabbard with the saw handle tied to the back strings and the blade coming just under my leg. I usually pack my camp axe on my pack mule to the outside of a mantied load, but you can certainly attach it to your saddle if you prefer an axe. An axe sheath is designed with rings to tie your saddle strings to. This hangs the axe at an angle where it is easy to secure the handle out of your way. And, as always, I prefer to hang my pack saw on the off side of the horse.
Balance the Load
Wherever you decide to hang your rifle scabbard, bow scabbard or pack saw scabbard on your saddle, it is important to balance the weight loaded on your horse. Since you have just added weight to one side of the saddle, be sure to offset it by adding as much weight to the other side. You can do this by packing heavier items in the horn bags or horse saddlebags on the opposite side from your scabbard. Be sure to weigh your scabbard so you know how much extra weight it adds to better offset it. Remember that horses carry weight best over their withers, so the more weight you can get up front, the better.