Packing Divisions Open, Non-pro, Youth & Decker Packing Division

  1. Attire(Rule 500)
  2. These Rules Apply To All(Rule 501)
  3. Judging of Packing Division Classes(Rule 502)
  4. Non-Pro Packing Division(Rule 503)
  5. Youth Packing Division(Rule 504)
  6. Diamond and Box Hitch(Rules 505-506)
  7. Packing Class and Equipment(Rules 507-508)
  8. Pack Trail and Scramble(Rules 509-510)
  9. Decker Rules(Rule 511)

Packing Divisions Open, Non-pro and Youth

500. Attire – Western hat, western boots, belt, long sleeved shirt with sleeves down and fastened. Authentic suspender pants shall be worn with suspenders.

501. These Rules Apply To All classes held at AMA approved shows.

  1. Violation of any rule will result in penalty assessment or disqualification of the packer for that event in which the violation occurred. Violation of rules which are subject to disqualification are marked with Penalty DQ.
    1. Mules and donkeys will be the only animal allowed in any packing classes except for the lead animal. Penalty DQ.
      1. Jacks and stallions cannot be used in any classes that require the release of animals. Penalty DQ.
      2. Jacks can only be used as lead animals in pack trail. Penalty DQ.
    2. Mules and donkeys in the Hitch classes, trail and packing, (excluding Scrambles) must be under control. If animals are unmanageable they will be asked to leave the class. At Judges discretion Penalty DQ.
    3. Each packer may enter each class only once.
    4. Points earned in all classes will go to the packer.
  2. American Mule Association standard hitches and equipment must be used throughout each class.
    1. No artificial aids or gimmicks such as modified boxes (wings, curvatures, etc), no taping or fastening down tarp will be allowed in any packing class. Hobbles can not be used. No part of packer or attire may touch lash rope after “Ready” and before “Start”. An artificial aid or gimmicks is determined by the Judge. If a Judge sees an aid before the start of the class, they may call it and give the contestant the opportunity to correct the infraction. The Judge will inspect for a gimmick and check for standard equipment, during the judging portion of each class. It is the contestant’s responsibility to use standard equipment, if in doubt on an aid or equipment; the contestant should ask the judge before their go. Penalty DQ.
  3. Each packer will be timed individually by a qualified timer who has been instructed by the judge on the use of the timing device.
    1. There must be one judge for each four packers during a heat, but only one judge can inspect hitches and loads throughout the show. The ring steward to read all times.
    2. The packer with the fastest time and clean go will be the winner. All clean goes will place before goes with penalties.
      1. Minor infractions shall carry a 5 second penalty; major infractions shall carry a larger penalty and be assessed accordingly at the discretion of the judge. See 510 C7 for time penalty exception.
      2. One minute penalties per infraction shall be accessed in the Packing class. Stiffer penalties may be assessed by the judge.
  4. Prior to the show, the show management will draw publicly, at random, each packer’s number to determine in which heat each packer is to compete.
    1. A separate drawing will be held for each packing class.
    2. The results of each drawing will be posted prior to any hitch or packing class.
    3. This rule is subject to availability.
  5. Show should schedule classes so that Open go first, then Non-Pro, followed by Youth.
  6. Neither packer, swamper, nor bystander can touch the load or hitch after the packer signals “finished” and before the judge’s inspection. Penalty DQ.
    1. The swamper cannot help the packer in any way, except to move stock and give verbal encouragement. Penalty DQ.
    2. After packer has control of the animal, swamper may still assist with animals before packer crosses the finish line.
    3. In the event that the packer or swamper loses control of the stock, for safety, a bystander, judge, ringman, other contestant, etc. may assist with stopping,catching, and regaining control of the stock. Penalty DQ at discretion of Judge in accordance with Rule 501 A2. The fact alone of outside assistance with the stock will not mean automatic DQ.

502. Judging of Packing Division Classes

  1. The packing judge will inspect for the following:
    1. Use of American Mule Association standard equipment and hitch.
    2. ALL hitches must be started and completed from the LEFT side of the mule.
    3. All ropes must be under tension.
    4. The tie-off is secure.
    5. Any extra rope or “tail” must not hang below the bottom of the load.
    6. On all hitches the lash cinch must have open side of the hook toward the rear of the mule. Rope cannot be in lash hook.
    7. The lash cinch must be between the front of the front girth and the rear of the back girth, with no steel touching the animal’s skin.
    8. Lash cinch must lie flat with no twist in it.
    9. No gimmicks or artificial aids.

503. Non-Pro Packing Division

  1. General AMA packing rules will apply for Non-Pro classes.
  2. Only those contestants who fit the following criteria are eligible:
    1. A non-pro is a person who has not been paid or compensated to pack within the last two years. All ages apply to this rule.
    2. Never placed first at a show in an open class. Unless competing as a Non-Pro in an Open class according to rule 503 D.
  3. Non-pro packer must move to the open division after winning the division twice(2). The wins do not have to be consecutive years.
    1. A Non-Pro packer can move up to the Open division at any time, but cannot move back down.
  4. Non-Pro packer may compete in the Non-Pro division. Exception: If no Non-Pro class is offered a non-pro may compete in the Open classes. Points will be awarded to the Non-Pro Division.
    1. AMA points are accredited to Non-Pro year end status.
    2. No points will be accrued toward the Open packing year end awards.

504. Youth Packing Division

  1. General rules shall apply to Youth packing classes with the following exceptions:
    1. Youth packer must have an adult swamper.
    2. Youth may only compete in the Youth Division for points. Exception: If no Youth classes is offered a Youth may compete in the Non-Pro hitches, if they meet the criteria of a Non-Pro. If they do not meet Non-Pro criteria, they may compete in the Open Hitches. Points will be awarded to the Youth Division. Youth may not compete in the Non-Pro or Open pack contest or scramble.
    3. Youth Packing Class and Youth Pack Trail will be at the walk only.
    4. Youth shall be eligible for the Youth Packing division until he/she reaches 18 years of age.
    5. Previous awards and titles, or experience at Pack Station will not effect eligibility for Youth classes.
    6. Judge’s decision will be final as to when youth entry shall be removed from the ring. Penalty DQ.
    7. Maximum weight for any single item in Youth Packing is 20 lbs.
    8. Youth cannot compete in Pack Trail outside an arena or outside a safe enclosed area.

505. Diamond Hitch

  1. Each packer will furnish one pack mule and a standard lash rope.
    1. A top load that extends above the top of the forks is required at the start and finish of the hitch.Penalty DQ
  2. Time will start at the judge’s signal to “go” and end when the packer signals he is “finished” by throwing his hands in the air.
    1. Before starting the lash rope will be coiled on the ground in coils of three feet or less.
    2. The packer cannot touch his lash rope from the time he signals he is ready, until the judge’s signal to “go”. No part of packer or attire may touch lash rope after “Ready” and before “Start”. Penalty DQ.
  3. At this time he will tie a diamond hitch.
    1. The hitch can be thrown so that it can be tied off either in front or behind the diamond.
    2. The hitch cannot be tied from one side. Penalty DQ
    3. The packer MUST go to the right side and put the lash rope under the right side load before he puts it under the left side load. Penalty DQ
  4. The judge will inspect for the following as well as in Rule 502.
    1. Diamond hitch and equipment.
    2. The extra rope cannot hang below the bottom of the side loads when the hitch is completed.
    3. The lash rope must pass under lower ends and over top ends of the side load.
    4. The ropes attached to the lash cinch must pass over the side of the side loads.
    5. A line drawn over the top of the top load between the center of the front and rear forks must pass through the diamond regardless of its shape.
    6. Any part of the diamond cannot be below the top edge of the side load.
    7. Diamond must stay on top of load.
    8. Rules of judging Hitch classes in Rule 502.
  5. The tail of the lash rope is to be thrown and cannot be pulled. Penalty DQ.

506. Box Hitch

  1. GENERAL DIAMOND HITCH RULES APPLY WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTIONS:
  2. A top load is optional.
  3. AMA standard box hitch will be tied.
    1. Throw lash cinch over load and under mule.
    2. Take complete wrap or half-hitch on hook with lash rope; then throw or take rope to right side.
    3. Tie box hitch on that side, throw rope to the left side.
    4. Tie remaining box, then tie off end above upper outer edge of the left side load.
  4. The judge will inspect for the following:
    1. AMA standard box hitch and equipment.
    2. Ropes under tension and tie-off secure.
    3. Lash rope MUST pass inside the lower inner corners of each side load, and can pass inside the upper inner corners of each side load.
    4. The ropes attached to the lash cinch must pass over the sides of the side load.
    5. The lash rope must make at least one complete wrap or half-hitch on the lash cinch hook.
    6. The lash rope cannot pass through the lash cinch hook when making the near(left) side box.
    7. Bottom rope should not extend above the outside bottom edge of box.
    8. Additional rules listed in Rule 502.

507. Packing Class

  1. Each packer will furnish, at least one saddled pack mule/donkey and one saddled lead animal and a swamper to hold them, matte and lash ropes.
    1. Jacks and stallions not allowed. Penalty DQ.
    2. If more than one pack mule/donkey is used, they must be strung without excessive length between the two animals. String as normal, down the trail distance.
    3. Show management must specify on entry blank if more than one mule/donkey is to be used.
  2. The show management will furnish the goods to be packed and the pack equipment for each packer.
    1. Packers may be asked to use their own boxes. No bags, slings, etc. unless furnished by show. Penalty DQ.
    2. No person competing in the contest can help show management or judge set up the loads. Penalty DQ. Once a packer has competed/ packed the load, they may help set up the load for the next packer.
    3. The goods to be packed can be anything that has been or can be packed on a mule.
    4. The judge must approve the goods to be packed prior to the start of the contest.
    5. The pack loads must weigh a maximum of 150 lbs. with no single item being over 50 lbs. YOUTH maximum of 20 lbs. for single item.
  3. Prior to the start of each heat, the goods will be arranged for each packer by the show management, and the arrangement must be the same for each packer. This is the ring steward’s responsibility.
    1. The packer can arrange his stock, mattes, lash rope and boxes or bags to suit him.
    2. He cannot touch goods or equipment until judge’s signal to “go”. Penalty DQ.
    3. Time will start at the judge’s signal to go and time will end when the tail of the last animal crosses the finish line.
    4. The distance between the packing area and the finish line will be across the arena or at least 100 feet; and will be the same for each packer.
    5. The packer must be on his lead animal and have control of the lead mule when he crosses the finish line.
    6. Judge will inspect the hitches as in the Box and Diamond Hitch classes.
    7. Both types of hitches can, but need not be used.
  4. The judge will inspect the loads for the following:
    1. Balance of load.
    2. Protection of the mule from the load.
    3. Protection of the load for what it is.
  5. One minute per infraction will be assessed by the judge in the packing contest.
    1. Stiffer penalties can be assessed by the judge in the packing contest.

508. Standard Packing Contest Equipment

    1. This equipment must be used in all Packing Division classes held at an American Mule Association approved show.
      1. Pack Rigging: Each pack mule must have a full rigging.
        1. This includes: A sawbuck saddle tree, 2 girth cinches, breeching, and breast collar.
        2. No tackaberry buckles allowed.
        3. Western riding saddles only on lead animal.
      2. Side Loads: All boxes, kyacks, pannier, leather ends, must have a minimum inside measurement of 10″ x 20″ x 14″.
        1. Two square 5 gallon cans must be able to fit completely into each pannier.
        2. May have and can use a cross strap. No add on to Side Loads allowed : such as fold out barrel or pole carriers, curved tops. This will be considered a gimmick. Judges call as to what is standard equipment, Penalty DQ.
      3. Matte: Must be unfolded and cover the load for what it is.
        1. Should be centered and tucked between the mule and the side loads, when possible.
        2. Matte must be approximately 5′ x 7′. May be larger. Cannot be adhered to the boxes or saddle in anyway, must be tucked when possible. No tape, adhesive, etc. Penalty DQ.
      4. Lash Rope: The lash cinch hook must be a single hook and constructed so that the hook is flat with the lash cinch itself.
        1. The opening on the hook cannot exceed two inches in width at the widest place inside.
        2. The cinch cannot have an overall length, including ring and hook, of greater than 40 inches.
      5. Any infraction of section 508 Penalty DQ.
    2. The following items may be packed during the packing class: Load 150 lbs. maximum. Remember maximum weight of single item is 50 lbs; youth maximum single item is 20 lbs:
    3. sacks of sawdust fire grates breadbox or egg box
      sacks of grain 5 gallon cans 5 gal. propane bottle
      buckets 1 gal. anti-freeze bottle milk cans
      backpacks sleeping bags 1 gallon cans
      rolls of camp rope extra pack saddle pillows
      protein blocks extra pack boxes/bags poles (6’max.)
      fishing poles lantern carrier shovel
      ice chest extra riding saddle cooler
      wash pans lanterns tarps
      tents foam sleeping pads dunnage bags
      suitcases horseshoes toilet seats
      beer kegs bricks horse blankets
      extra lash rope bales of hay bucksaws
      salt blocks deer horns cook stoves
      4×4 sheet of plywood canned goods small barrels
      rain gear portable table, folding chairs pots and pans
    4. Any item given to be packed must be on the pack animal when contestant crosses the finish line. A no time is to be given to the contestant that does not finish with the entire load.

    509. Pack Trail

    1. Packer must ride lead animal and lead the pack mule/donkey through a course of obstacles simulating those found on the trail.
      1. Jacks can only be used as lead animals. Penalty DQ.
      2. Combination of animals may only go once in the Open Division, but if needed the same combination may be used in the Non-Pro and Youth divisions also only once. Animals may go more than once if combination of animals is changed.
      3. There must be at least one obstacle change between Open class and other classes.
    2. Refer to Western Trail – (Rules 215-217 )for general information.

    510. Pack Scramble – Open, Non-Pro

    1. Shows may be offered as an individual or team event.
      1. Jacks and stallions are not allowed. Penalty DQ.
      2. Show must state on entry if individual event, or how many packers on team and number of animals to be used.
    2. Packers may only enter once in each class.
    3. The following rules are to be used:
      1. No tying of any kind, except stringing up.
      2. No catching aids such as grain, carrots, feed bag, etc.
      3. No gimmicks or artificial aids such as tackaberry buckles.
      4. All equipment used must meet AMA standards.
      5. Hitches to be judged under AMA packing rules.
      6. A 30 second penalty assessed for each infraction.
      7. Sleeping bags may be used as bed rolls.
      8. Western attire to be worn.
    4. If goods are to be packed, load must be trail worthy and balanced.

    Decker Packing Division

    511. Decker Rules – No specific rules are available at this time.

    1. Shows wishing to hold any of these classes must follow general AMA packing rules.
    2. Classes approved by the AMA will be the following:
      1. Decker Barrel Packing
      2. Decker Sling Packing
      3. Decker Bow Hitch
      4. Decker Diamond Hitch
      5. Decker Packing Class (Jacks and stallions not allowed)
    3. Check with AMA office for additional rules.
    4. Mules and donkeys will be the only animals allowed in Packing classes except lead animal. Penalty DQ.
    5. Jacks and lead animals only in Pack Trail. Penalty DQ.
    6. Mules and donkeys in the hitch classes will be asked to leave if unmanageable. Penalty DQ.