Mix and Match- new learning from the veterans

This past weekend Harley and I had a great time working with the horses. During the summer Tom and Charlie have been his reliable veteran team that helped with making hay. We just didn’t have time to experiment with his other two horses. But this weekend we first ground drove Babe with Tom and then put them to the sled. Having an extra person on the ground that can help Babe understand her task is extremely important.

We drove around the yard for a bit and then things were going smoothly so we headed down the trail to the hay field. I stayed on the ground ahead of the team, one to open gates and two to be there for Babe, if she was hesitant. Babe has been through training, but it has been awhile and we didn’t want to assume anything so we started with the ground driving which she accepted, so we put her to the sled.


We thought that she would be ready for a test of helping Tom take a load of firewood up to the house. We did not overload the sled with wood as it is a bit of a climb up to the house. I was on the ground with her lead rope in hand as I had to encourage her to help Tom get the sled up the hill. She stood quietly while Harley unloaded the wood. I stood at her head and praised her. We took another load up to the house and thought it was a good day for Babe.

Next we ground drove Charlie with Shorty. Shorty is seven and has done field work a few years ago. He has a very short tail and is not as big as the other horses. He can be excited at times and we thought Charlie’s laid back personality would have a steadying effect on him.

The ground driving went well and we put them to the sled. Our goal with them was to haul a few large rocks into the front yard to finish a landscaping project. The pair took the sled up the road to the house and stood quietly while Harley unloaded the rocks. I was at their heads making sure they stood. Shorty did really well and remembered his job in the team.

Sunday it was dry enough that we could start mowing Harley’s last hay field. We put Shorty with Tom. Tom is on the right as he handles the turning extremely well. Shorty is smaller, but energetic and kept a better pace and helped Tom more than Charlie does.

Harley was pretty excited to have a more forward PAIR of horses on the mower.

Since Shorty does not have the condition on him, I caught Charlie and we put him with Tom to finish the rest of the field. It just doesn’t help to overtax a horse that is not fit. You must take it slow and build him up. It was a warm day too.


Monday came and Harley put Babe with Tom to ted the hay. It is easy work and she did okay. With more experience she will do the turning better and have better condition. She didn’t mind the tedder behind her either.

Recently Harley switched Tom and Charlie by putting Tom on the left and Charlie on the right. It helps them to think and hopefully develop their muscles more evenly. We are excited with the flexibility to use all four horses for different jobs and in different positions. So this fall and winter we will have fun mixing and matching horses and driving them to keep and get some condition on them. We want to work three abreast also. With another year of experience behind them, we could even think about putting a four up together. Wouldn’t that be a grand time!!!

One thought on “Mix and Match- new learning from the veterans”

  1. Theresa..
    Thanks for sharing the adventure you and Harley had with your horses. You really had a lot of combinations of horses and used a lot of differnt equipment. The pictures showed everyone working safely, quietly and having a GREAT TIME!
    Cathi G

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