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Be Your Horse’s Leader and Partner

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 Borderland Ranch in 2021

  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?

Working in an 'out-door classroom' at Therriault Creek Ranch, home of Doc Hammill Horsemanship

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 or call him at 406-250-8252 for workshop and reservation details.

Woman driving a team of horses hitched to a forecart on a gravel road
Vee driving Suffolk Punch mares on a forecart

Become one of Doc’s many successful students!

We are currently booking for our 2021 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 this same kind of relationship with YOUR OWN horse(s).

Man coaching woman driving a team of Norwegian Fjord horses hitched to a horse drawn hay rake and raking hay
Doc working with Julia and ‘The Boys’ as they rake hay

A Gentle Horsemanship Message from Doc

 

While doing springtime chores that prepare us for the 2021 Workshop season, we are thinking of what you might be interested in.

Man driving a single Norwegian Fjord horse hitched to a single plowthat a woman is handling

At Doc Hammill Horsemanship we help you to learn how to work with, drive, and teach horses in gentle, effective ways that make sense to horses!
Make 2021  the year that you advance your horsemanship skills by participating in one (or all !) of Doc’s many learning opportunities so that you understand and practice methods of interaction and communication that will change the relationship between you and your horse in amazing ways.

Contact DOC
now!

To view our latest email as a pdf file, click the link below

A Gentle Horsemanship Message from Doc

Man ground driving a team of horses pulling a harrow

 

 

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon 1

We use our horse-drawn bale moving wagon regularly on the ranch to move bales!

We purchased the wagon as seen here. It was made by the seller, who assembled components to make a very useable and maneuverable wagon.

 It has Gehl running gear and is shortened to a 10-foot bed length. It has a new Pioneer Equipment bench seat and a new Pioneer cast toolbox is bolted on the bed, which was also new lumber when we purchased it. A modern bale spike assembly was mounted on the back, and when we purchased it, it had a high-capacity Warn winch (with remote operation !) mounted on it to run the bale lift mechanism. We replaced the battery-operated winch with a hand-operated come-along to lift the bales. Wedecided to use the winch on another piece of equipment where we could use the high capacity power. The hand operated come along works just fine, however, we’ve considered mounting a smaller battery operated winch to operate the lift mechanism. The wagon with a short wheel base is highly maneuverable which is incredibly helpful in our equipment yard, hay yard, and driveway accessing  our covered hay storage. 

Horse Drawn bale moving wagon 2

This side view shows the ‘bale spike’ mounted on the back. This component was purchased and added to the back of the flatbed wagon.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 3

The bale-spike is mounted on the long stringers that support the wagon bed. It is mounted to the stringers and pivots up and down between them, as shown in the photo below. The short spikes on either side of the long spike keep the bale from rotating -stabilizing it.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 4

We use a piece of plastic PVC pipe placed over the long spike to protect people and animals from the pointed spear when it is not being used to carry a bale. The PVC piece is just enough larger than the spike so that it comes off easily just before spearing the bale and goes back on the spike just after the bale is dropped. We always carry the PVC spike cover on the wagon when moving the bale so it can go back on the spike immediately after the bale is dropped.

Horse-drawn bale wagon5

The spike is set horizontally as the wagon is backed up to spear the bale.

Horse-drawn bale wagon 6

When purchased, the wagon had a large 12-volt battery-operated winch on it. We moved that winch to another piece of equipment and replaced it with a hand-operated come-along.

Horse-Drawn Bale Moving Wagon 1

Doc winches the bale up into a position that will hold it on the spike as he travels. In rough or irregular ground, we go slow, taking it easy so the bale doesn’t get to bouncing, giving special consideration to the horses, who would feel any bounding by the wagon and load.

Horse-drawn Bale moving wagon6

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to call

Doc 406-250-8252 or Contact Us, Cathy 406-890-3083 

 

A May Bear(y) Encounter

This spring day in April of 2013, Doc was working Ann and Shelby, Suffolk Punch mares, hitched to a forecart, driving around tracks on the ranch near Eureka, Montana.

He noticed Shelby’s behavior was ‘off’: she was snorting, distracted, and not her usual calm self. We know  “horses think they always have a good reason for their behavior” so we look for what could be bothering them. While staying seated on the forecart, Doc looked for clues to her behavior:  on her bridle, on her harness, with her teammate, checking the hitch setup, but he saw nothing unusual. Cathi was nearby on the ground looking for photo opportunites while Doc worked the ‘Girls’.  She noticed the nice BIG BLACK BEAR grazing in the lush grass near Therriault Creek and pointed it out to Doc.  It became evident that the Bear was the object of Shelby’s attention.

Northwestern Montana has  abundant bear populations so both of these mares, actually all of our horses, have seen Black Bear and Grizzly Bear while grazing in their pastures, and paddocks.  Much less frequently have they seen them while they (the horses) are harnessed and working. We believe horses see every situation differently…so even though they had seen bears while grazing …not having seen them while they were harnessed and working was a new situation, and caused upset to at least one of the horses.

Shelby’s concern over the grazing bear gave Doc the opportunity to  remain a reasonable distance from the bear, and let both mares observe it grazing.  We have learned to zero in on cues from our horses that tell us they are concerned.  We always ask them to WHOA when we see this, so that stopping when concerned or worried becomes the response.  We give them the time it takes to figure out what is happening. Doc used the approach and retreat concept to get the team closer to the bear, then when relaxed, he would drive them away from the bear.  It is our goal to manage the  horses’ behavior for comfort and relaxation. Doc also remained calm,  and emotionally neutral.  He of course thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see this beautiful bear, and the opportunity to help Shelby become more relaxed at seeing at least this bear. Desensitization worked here for both the horses, with time just standing and observing, and moving the team to different locations where they could still observe the bear’s activity allowed them to become comfortable with the sighting. Shelby’s teammate Ann, remained relaxed during this entire time.  Doc believes that Ann’s calmness contributed positivly to Shelby’s positive desensitization.

Cathy did not become completely desensitized to the bear sighting. Given that the bear was observed between the house and barn, Cathy chose to not walk, but rather drive her car to the barn and back in the several days following.

Doc Plowing Snow with Ann and Shelby

 

The photo shows Doc working Ann and Kate, our Suffolk Punch mares, at plowing snow with a

Pioneer Forecart and Pioneer Back Blade accessory.

DSC02206

 

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.

Horse Drawn Haying with a Side Delivery Rake

What a great Workshop!  Not only were we able to work through our typical hands-on activities with our human students, but we also had the opportunity to help our new horses learn to accept a piece of noisy equipment while working on our hay at the same time.

We had hay down in our biggest hay meadow…25 acres.  Doc decided to use Brisk and Solven, our Norwegian Fjord geldings to demonstrate  a safe way of introducing horses to unfamiliar equipment.  We acquired this team last fall.  They are a well-experienced team, with a life time of pulling carriages and wagons in a variety of situations.  They work quietly and willingly.   Brisk and Solven however are new to all farm activities. This noisy hay rake is the first piece of farm equipment that these horses have EVER been hitched to, so we wanted to make sure it was a safe and comfortable experience for all.

Solven and Brisk checking out the rake

Doc drove the team to the hay meadow, where the truck and rake were parked.  He drove them to the rake, let them see and smell it while it was idle.  Cathy then drove the pickup with the side delivery rake attached, around the edge of the mowed hay meadow. She first pulled the hay rake out of gear – not raking hay. Doc drove Brisk and Solven hitched to their fore cart behind the moving rake. The horses were completely comfortable being driven behind the rake while it was  traveling out of gear, so Doc then drove the Boys  along the side of, and in front of the pick-up and hay rake. There was a point, when the rake ‘dissappeared’ (due to their blinders) behind the Boys  that they showed some concern.  Doc slowed the Boys down so the rake again came into their view, and they regained their comfort.  After a few times forward and back, the horses showed no concern at all when the rake and truck were behind them or beside them.  All these steps were repeated next with the rake traveling now noisily in gear behind the pickup. The horses showed no signs of concern at the  rake traveling behind, beside or in front of them even when they were driven very close to it.

 

This advance and retreat method is a technique we use to expose any horse to new equipment, processes, environments and activities. This process gave the horses the  ability to see and hear the machine working, and to ensure they were comfortable with it before they were asked to rake hay with it. Breaking activities down into small steps, like this, lets horses accept new situations in small increments and stay comfortable.  If we see concern on the part of the horses, we  drop back a  step to again allow them to feel comfortable. We go back (retreat) as far as is necessary to allow the horses to regain their comfort.

Incidentally, this process also gave us a chance to make a couple of necessary adjustments to the rake before we hitched the horses to it.  It is good to  make  adjustments  to and make sure equipment is working well BEFORE putting the horses on the equipment.

After one round of the meadow with the rake attached to the truck, Doc determined that the horses were not concerned about working in this new area or the noise associated with the side delivery rake.  We stopped the truck, unhooked the rake from it.  Then hitched the rake (again out of gear)to the fore cart with Solven and Brisk; the Boys walked off comfortably.  Next, we put the rake in gear and when given their signal, off the Boys walked. We spent the rest of the evening raking hay with them.  They continued to work quietly, steady, and calmly.