Doc Hammill’s decades of experience working equines in harness coupled with his never-ending quest to ensure that equines work more comfortably and safely, gives him an unequaled perspective on the teamster’s art.
Author and researcher, Jenifer Morrissey, an accomplished teamster in her own right, has artfully condensed many generations of wisdom from Doc, herself, and numerous other master teamsters and craftsmen in this unique book about harness and using it safely and well.
Now assembled in one place, this series of articles on harness and the teamster’s art by Jenifer Morrissey with Doc Hammill and Friends originally appeared in Rural Heritage Magazine. Introductory chapters include choosing a harness for your equine and understanding harness materials and styles. The key chapters on the geometry of harness adjustment and finding the ideal point of draft resulted from months of research and collaboration. Rural Heritage’s Publisher remarked, “Our most extensive articles on the most essential aspects of draft horse driving. Jenifer Morrissey’s much researched articles cover everything you need to know to correctly adjust your harness and collars for the best performance and comfort. Accompanied by very helpful photographs and illustrations. You will keep and reread these articles forever!” And now it is even easier to do that with the book, Harness Lessons With Doc Hammill and Friends.
Available mid-November 2017: $38.00 + $7.50 shipping.
Pre-order from Doc
- phone 406-250-8252
- Mail: send Name, address, phone number and payment to PO Box 785, St. Ignatius, MT 59865
- Will be on Doc’s website store mid November
We visited with them as they were getting ready to leave, in the early Montana light. Here is a fine team of three. We have been fortunate to know Balyn for several years, and were quite excited that he made an overnight stop to see Doc and I at Borderland Ranch to take an overnight break in his travels with his new team, Bruce and Bud, from eastern Montana to Western Washington.
Balyn is now working his own farm with wife Ellie, in North West Washington. Please join us wishing them well as he puts these nice boys to work .
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.
Coming Soon: Comments from Balyn
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 the Workshops drop 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, Doc often 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.
We covered a lot of ground in this workshop! The next Workshop at Live Power Community Farm in Covelo, California, is set for November 1-3, 2013. More information about this workshop…
If you are interested in attending one of Doc’s workshops at Covelo or elsewhere, click on “Workshops” in the menu above to view all of the workshops we have in the works!