The photo shows Doc working Ann and Kate, our Suffolk Punch mares, at plowing snow with a
Pioneer Forecart and Pioneer Back Blade accessory.
We’ve had the blade for our Pioneer fore cart for about 10 years and it works very well for us. In addition to plowing snow we have used it to move dirt, spread gravel, level ground squirrel mounds in pastures and hay fields, clean up manure in corrals, spread wood shavings and sand, and do some minor ditching. The blade can be set at several different angles very easily and quickly with a spring loaded pin to roll material off the blade either to the right or left. A similar pin and holes system tilts the blade higher or lower on one end than the other for such things as ditching and creating a slope. Loose dirt and gravel can be moved with relative ease but hard packed dirt needs to be plowed or otherwise loosened first if the blade will not tear it up with one end of the blade tilted down so the corner acts like a ripper. Care needs to be taken not to force the blade down so hard in an attempt to make it dig deeper that excessive downward pressure is created on the end of the tongue. Doing so will exert too much downward force on the collars which can make the team uncomfortable and potentially anxious, irritable, or sore. It works great for light grading of loose gravel on driveways, ranch roads, etc. but tearing up hard packed gravel is not practical. If it gets wet enough in spring or fall we can do more with formerly packed gravel. We also use the lift mechanism (without the blade attached) to raise and lower other custom tools that we attach to the lift mechanism with a modified receiver hitch.
Focus on a Doc Hammill Horsemanship Student: Balyn
Balyn, a 30 something Californian, has been gardening and farming for more than 10 years. All of his early gardening and farm work was on fairly small scale family and market gardens. These gardens were cultivated by hand or with minimal tractor work to assist the human power. Balyn’s interest in gardening and farming intensified while he was studying agro-ecology and environmental studies as a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2004 http://casfs.ucsc.edu/.
In 2012 Balyn and wife Elli began working as farm managers of WHOA (Work Horse Organic Agriculture http://whoafarm.org/), a non-profit organization that grows food for donation to Sonoma County (California) agencies serving people who do not have access to or cannot afford fresh, wholesome, healthy, organic produce. WHOA also advocates, promotes, and supports working farms and gardens in a sustainable way with horsepower.
WHOA’s Mission statement: “To produce the best and healthiest food possible and deliver it free of charge to people who cannot afford the high price of organic food commanded by retail outlets.”
Work Horse Organic Agriculture, Inc. (WHOA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was established to promote the use of draft horse farming to support sustainable and organic agriculture in Sonoma County. All food grown by WHOA is given away to organizations in Sonoma County that serve people who do not have access to fresh organic produce.
Working for a non-profit organization with the slogan of:
“The best food money can’t buy!”
has been a truly rewarding endeavor for Ellie and Balyn. In 2011, at the urging of the Gelsman Family,( WHOA founders), Balyn spent time with 2 two young Doc Hammill protégés and organic farmers, Ryan and Adam, who own and operate New Family Farm near Sebastopol, California. Their sustainable farming practices include using draft horses rather than motorized equipment to work the land. There, Balyn observed Ryan and Adam work their Belgian draft team doing cultivation, planting and harvesting. Eventually, Balyn spent some time working with the New Family Farm horses with Adam and Ryan.
In July of 2012, Balyn spent a week in one of Doc Hammill Horsemanship’s five day Workhorse Workshops at Therriault Creek Ranch near Eureka, Montana. During the intensive, immersion style workshop, Balyn learned about the nature of horses’ learning, their body language, their emotions and behaviors. Balyn and co-students also worked horses doing many hands-on activities, including harnessing, collar fitting, ground driving single horses and teams of two, driving singles in two wheeled carts and hitched to plows and other cultivation equipment. The students also hitched and drove teams of two horse teams on wagons, a Pioneer Homesteader, and various other pieces of farm equipment to give them a well-rounded intensive experience of working and driving horses in harness safely and comfortably.
By 2012, WHOA operations were centered on an 11 acre patch of fertile ground in Sonoma County, California. As farm manager, Balyn, built infrastructure on the new WHOA farm and began produce production. In the Fall of 2012, WHOA Farm acquired a team of Haflinger geldings and a Percheron mare to help out with cultivation, planting, harvesting, as well as other farm chores.
After the horses arrived at WHOA Farm, Balyn and the Gelsman Family called upon Doc and Cathy to continue with their mentor-ship of Balyn’s natural horsemanship and teamster skills. Doc and Cathy have made on-farm private instructional visits to WHOA FARM, where they have coached and mentored Balyn as he encounters new opportunities while working with the horses. Doc has worked directly with the horses as well. Balyn continues to cultivate and grow his horsemanship skills by taking advantage of Doc’s long distance coaching and mentor-ship opportunities, Doc’s instruction horsemanship DVDs ( http://dochammill.com/?page_id=29 ) and on-going workshops. In 2012, WHOA sponsored a Doc Hammill Horsemanship Driving and Working Horses in Harness Workshop, and another is being planned at the WHOA Farm in the Fall of 2014.
Do You Dream of being the Leader and Partner Your Horse Needs You to Be?
Turn Your Dream into Reality:
attend a Doc Hammill Horsemanship Workshop
at Therriault Creek Ranch in 2014
Would you like to learn to
develop Trust, Respect and Leadership in your relationship with your horse?
feel safe, comfortable and relaxed while interacting with your horse?
understand what your horse’s behavior is telling you?
understand what your body language is telling your horse?
harness, hitch, and drive horses
Spend a week in Beautiful NW Montana Learning Doc Hammill’s Horsemanship “Fundamentals”
Come, join us for a very special time at our Montana ranch and acquire the horsemanship skills you have been wanting to achieve. Reserve your spot now! Contact Doc at email@example.com or call him at 406-250-8252 for reservation details.
Become one Doc’s many successful students!
We are currently booking for our 2014 Montana Workshops; We would love to put your name on our list of successful participants.
Doc Hammill Horsemanship helps people to understand and build relationships with their horses. We believe that YOU are your horse’s best trainer; we teach you to gently, safely, and effectively communicate and train your horse and to harness, hitch, drive, and work your horses. Through demonstrations, lectures, and hands-on exercises with Doc and Cathy’s personal horses, you will explore and practice the same techniques that Doc uses in workshops literally all across the US, to build partnerships with horses. You will learn and practice how to create these same kind of relationships with YOUR OWN horse(s)
Then Learn to Become the Leader and Partner Your Horse Needs You to Be by attending a
Doc Hammill Horsemanship Workshop in 2014!
Do you have the relationship you want with your horse?
Do you feel safe, comfortable and relaxed while interacting with your horse
How would you like to understand what your horse’s behavior and body language is telling you?
How would you like to develop Trust, Respect and leadership in your relationship with your horse?
Come join us for a very special time at one of our
Doc Hammill Horsemanship Workshops
and acquire the horsemanship skills you have been wanting to achieve.
We are booking for our 2014 Workshops Now and would love to put your name on our list of successful participants!
Throughout our workshops we will be teaching you how to communicate and interact with horses in gentle, safe, effective ways that they inherently understand and are comfortable with. A lot of hands-on time will be devoted to learning and practicing the principles, techniques, and details of harnessing, harness adjustment and collar fitting, hitching, and driving and working horses in harness. We will work primarily with single horses and teams of two, with the possibility of some time devoted to larger hitches.
For detailed information about specific Workshops at Doc’s Ranch and Doc Hammill Horsemanship Workshops in an area near you, just go to Doc’s Website and click on theWorkshopsdrop down menu.
Hope we meet you at a Doc Hammill Driving Workshop soon!
SUCH ENERGY!!! There is nothing like it! As always this is an Amazing event! So much more than a auction; Four days filled with continuous varied educational programs, networking with like minded people, experience and expertise of teamsters, craftsmen and artists.
From the inspirational young farmers with their energy and enthusiasm to learn and choose a life of farming, coupled with the energy and enthusiasm of seasoned and knowledgeable teamsters wishing to pass on their expertise in an effort to help keep animal powered revival moving forward. The auction, with all of the equipment and vehicles assembled in one venue is in itself a wonder.
Winter, our quiet time, is a time we use to keep our horses tuned up, and ready to work as instructors in our Montana Workhorse Workshops.
We have had snow here at home since mid-December so we get to put the horses on sleds and sleighs, and in some cases, change out the wheels (for example on the fore cart) for runners. Here, Doc has Ann, one of our Suffolk Punch Draft horse mares, on a small feed sled.
This sled is great with a small load and a single horse.
We love all seasons in Montana, and especially enjoy Montana’s long snowy winters. This time of tranquility gives us another set of opportunities (besides the fair weather and ranch work of summer) to enjoy driving and working with our horse partners.
On the evening prior to the start of Doc Hammill’s Farming and Working Horses in Harness Workshop, Docoften gives a presentation,“The Mind of the Horse” that is open to the public and free of charge. This provides Doc an opportunity to share with people his insights into how horses perceive, react, think, learn, respond and communicate. Doc believes by giving people this fundamental knowledge, they then can use the information to get horses to willingly cooperate as partners, rather than being forced.
The workshop starts the following morning with a combination of sharing more information about horses’ minds, physiology, reactions and perceptions and students being involved in hands-on activities. Having a variety of presentations and activities for students considers and addresses different learning styles. Having instructors to assist Doc provides students more one-on-one time.
For beginning students, getting the harness on a big horse can be just a bit overwhelming. Steven Decater, an experienced teamster, and his wife Gloria, owners of Live Power Community Farm made it understandable. His explanation and demonstration of how to put harness on a horse was thorough and straightforward. Then students in this workshop were given plenty of time to practice harnessing and unharnessing the horses themselves.
Live Power Community Farm, an Organic and Bio-dynamic horse powered farm, hosted Doc’s 4th Annual Farming and Working with Horses in Harness here at Covelo, California. Ten students from California and Washington attended this 2 day event.
The diversity of the students attending Doc’s workshops is always amazing. In attendance in this workshop were an administrator of a Non-Profit organization, a NASA construction engineer, farm managers, farm apprentices, and the co-owner of a winery and vineyard.
Some students were in their 20’s and just planning their careers. Others were older and thinking about retirement. Such diversity among attendees makes for lively discussions and exchange of ideas around the breakfast, lunch, and supper tables. Even though some students had many years of experience around horses and mules, this was the first time most took the driving lines into their hands.
When asked why they had come to this workshop, one person said:
“I want to learn about driving horses to get work done. I have been a professional horse trainer, of dressage and jumping horses, for more than 15 years; I want to give this a try.”
Another person added:
“Doc’s presentation ‘The Mind of the Horse’ is of particular interest to me; I want to learn the language of horses; I know I am talking to them, I just don’t know what I am saying.”
This year, we had four capable instructors available to work one-on-one with students in hands-on activities. Doc and Cathy as well as Steven Decater and his oldest son Alexander were all here to help students gain as much understanding, wisdom, technique, and skill as possible during the workshop.
Initially students cycled between ground driving single horses with Doc, Cathy and Alexander and driving two horse teams with Steven.
For Doc and me, plowing with horse-drawn walking plows is a favorite activity. We both enjoy plowing with one, two, or three horses hitched to a walking plow.
The sounds, the smell, the feeling of holding the handles, and working with the soils … it is all part of it for us, as well as working with the horses as partners to get a job done. Helping the horses gain skills and understanding of the task and to make their contribution in a relaxed and comfortable way is very important to for us.
We both share an interest in horse drawn equipment of the past and have somewhat of a “collection”.
We are enamored with the details of parts, engineering, design, history of the manufacturers, adjustments, maintenance, and attachments of this old equipment. We both think there is beauty and art in the form and function of many of these older pieces, particularly the walking plows. The “plow hitch plate assembly” is one of those very appealing artistic components of walking plows.
This “plow hitch plate assembly” is one from a plow we recently found in eastern Oregon, a Vulcan #14. It has been fun for us to do some research on it, find out about the Vulcan Manufacturing Company, think about getting it in working order, ready for it’s use next spring.
Below is an excerpt from the Evansville Courier Press:
“William Heilman, a German immigrant and U.S. Congressman, founded Heilman Plow Works in 1847. Renamed Vulcan Plow Works in 1890, the company was a leading manufacturer of various farming equipment in the Ohio Valley before merging with three other companies in Illinois and Ohio, to form Farm Tool, Inc. The last known vestige of that company in Evansville left in 1949 and went out of business all together in the 1950s.”
We are getting very excited after we received recent news that two ‘new-to-us’ plows are being shipped to us by Tommy Flowers, and will have a new home here in Montana. A Chattanooga 43 10″ two-horse walking plow will be perfect for our Fjord Team, and a Lynchburg 6 an8″ single horse walking plow for our single Suffolk Punch horses should be arriving soon! The ground isn’t frozen and there is no snow yet … maybe they will get here it time to try out before winter hits….
Learning to plow is one of the favorite activities for students in our workshops.
Doc and I always look forward to sharing our passion for plows and plowing with students in our workshops. Learning to plow is one of the favorite activities for many students.
One of our students, who had waited since his youth to plow with a horse was particularly excited about “taking the handles” for the first time. He said to me this year, “Cathy, I have yet to try this thing that you love so much, but I am ready now.” You should have seen the smile on his face as he looked back after completing his first furrow!
We feel privileged to have recently shared our home for a visit from Jay and Janet Bailey, of Fair Winds Farm, for a couple of days. The Baileys live in Vermont, own and operate a horse-powered, organic market vegetable farm. Like us, the Baileys also offer intensive, hands-on horse-powered workshops that teach people how to drive and work horses in harness.
We and the Baileys both admire, own, and use Suffolk Punch Draft horses in our personal farm work and in our workshops. We had much to talk about with this love in common…our own horses, their tractability, their energy, their great minds, and current trends in breeding. It was a great time for the Baileys to learn about the other breed of horses we own and use on the ranch and in our workshops, Norwegian Fjord Horses.
The time together with the Baileys also gave the four of us the opportunity share, connect with resources, and network with each other about what opportunities, information and activities we provide (and would like to provide for Workhorse Workshop students). We want to stay connected to help each other provide the best educational experience possible for all of our combined current and future students.
Jay and Janet were interested in local history and had not heard of spring-board notches. (Loggers in the early days cut springboard notchesinto which they could insert springboards which then could be used as platforms, allowing the loggers to stand and use their cross-cut saws to cut higher-up the base of the tree where the trunk is narrower.)
We spent some time hiking with them near the ranch to show them the remnants of the early logging in our area.
Of course, what is a visit among horse-friends without a little horse work? We shared a favorite activity with Jay and Janet….log skidding with Solven and Brisk, Norwegian Fjords, to get in a little firewood.
Doc and I consider the time spent with these great people valuable to not only enjoy their company, but also to exchange ideas and to take time for recreation as well.
Thanks Baileys for taking the time to ‘stop by and see us’ at Doc Hammill Horsemanship, here in Montana.
For the past several years, Cathy and I have spent the Fall months on the road…
doing what we love … offering Workhorse Workshops to students in Oregon, Washington, and California, and providing personalized instruction to students and their horses on their own farms.
The workshops have turned out to be wonderful events for us, the hosts, and students alike. These recurring Workhorse Workshops are being hosted in some amazing places … most of them are horse-powered organic farms. The working farms are perfect environments for hands on learning, with remarkable owner hosts who co-instruct with us. Thanks to our hosts the students get to work with outstanding horses and a wide variety of equipment. Opportunities for learning, networking, and sharing are endless.
Cathy and I would like to share some of the experiences we’ve had during these times. Keep an eye on this “What’s New” section of our website — we will offer educational insights where it makes sense and share photos and commentary from the workshops, private lessons, and training sessions.
We are honored to work with so many enthusiastic and dedicated students. By teaching people to better understand, communicate, and interact with horses, we are also following our passion of helping horses have better lives.
Check back often, you might just see yourself or someone you know!