Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training Wheels

At the moment we are in between putting up grass hay and oat hay. We put 1100 bales of grass hay in the barn, the best year we have ever had, about a ton an acre.
While we are waiting for the oats to come on I'm working with the Percherons. We have two Percherons that don't know much. This guy, Mountain Man (we didn't name him) doesn't know anything and is 15 years old.
Starting an older horse to be a productive work horse is far more challenging than if he were a youngster. Not only is he big and can cause lots of trouble but everything is abnormal for him.
Basically I'm trying to 'de0-sensitize' him to strange things like harness and going with another horse so I have fabricated 'training wheels' i.e. an old pickup truck with a steel bar in the box that I can tie the horses to. They have to go when the truck goes and stop when the truck stops (sort of). There are a few tricks, none of which are hard and fast as anything can rattle an inexperienced horse.
The near horse on the right hand side of the picture is Lucky and about as solid as the Ford Truck he is tied to. The off horse is the white horse and knows nothing. He's the guy we are trying to start. As you can see I am standing on a tire that they are skidding along. This saves a lot of walking and gives the 'green' horse an idea of how to pull a load. I built up to this point working the Percheron single and getting him used to his tugs around his legs until I felt he was ready for a double tree. This went fine until we rolled across some rocks which upset him and we ended up in a knot. Poor Lucky puts up with alot. I got them untangled and went back to the basics.
Not sure how far I can get with him but we'll keep after it. I hope he's ready for fall field work. He's a nice guy, just doesn't know anything.
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