Category Archives: Just for Fun

When East Meets West…in Montana


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 notches into 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.

Stephen Decater demonstrating collar fitting on Pete at the 4th Annual Doc Hammill Horsemanship  Workhorse Workshop at Live Power Community Farm, October, 2012

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!

Tom Triplett and Jay Jay the Welsh Pony

Tom Triplett, (Doc’s mentor and step-father) along with his wife Betty,  cared for  Jay Jay, Cathy’s Welsh pony, for the last 2 years.  We all thought he would be a good cart driving partner for Tom.  Jay Jay enjoyed life with two standard Donkeys, and being cared for by Tom and Betty.  In the winter of 2011, we all agreed that Jay Jay might benefit from living on the wider open spaces at Therriault Creek Ranch with Doc, Cathy,   their horses, and mule for a while.

Tom knew that if Jay Jay was to live on a ranch, he best be ready to do ranch work.   Tom didn’t figure that the light driving harness that Cathy had for Jay Jay was a proper ranch harness. So he made a work harness for Jay Jay.  This one is complete with wooden hames that belonged to Tom’s father.

 Tom and Jay Jay

 June 20, 2011, Father’s Day, Tom fitted the harness to Jay Jay.  It is perfect! 
In the photo at left, Tom is adjusting Jay Jay’s new work harness.  This harness is complete with:
  • Painted wooden hames, originally belonging to Tom’s father
  • Leather belly band, back pad, back straps, lazy straps and crupper
  • Fire hose covered chain tugs
Tom, taking Jay Jay for a spin in his new harness:

Celebrating The Birthdays of Duchess and Misty

Duchess and Misty are celebrating important Birthdays this week. Duchess turns 29 June 1st, and Misty turns 27 May 27!
We feel very blessed to be in the lives of these two magnificent creatures.

Misty, Outstanding in her Field, May 25, 2011

Misty has been with Doc for most of her 27 years, working in various occupations. For the last 12 years, she has been a reliable staff member of Doc Hammill Horsemanship, working as an instructor for begining and advanced students. Misty has  taught hundreds of students to drive. She has also co-starred in several of Doc’s Instructional Horsemanship DVDs. Misty is still a regular instructor at Doc and Cathy’s Montana Workhorse Workshops, and will be working with students again for the 2011 Workshop season.

Misty teaching a student to ground drive

Duchess, Outstanding in her Field, May 25, 2011

  Duchess, a Suffolk Punch Draft horse, started life at Mountain View Farms where she and her sister Delilah were born.  These two became the leaders of the Mountain View hitch of six Suffolks and were shown extensively in Washington and Oregon. Cathy acquired Duchess and Delilah when their earlier owner retired; these two taught her a lot about driving.  Duchess as a single has been Cathy’s ‘Go-To’ horse for many years now; always having been easy to work with and ready for a parade, some field work, log skidding, a county or state fair, plowing the home garden, a buggy ride, or teaching people to drive. Duchess is the kind of herd leader that Mark Rashid talks about..a leader that gained the respect of the rest of the herd through her quiet, strong leadership. Duchess is retired from most physical aspects of ranching.

Duchess plowing in the garden May 2009

Misty and Duchess now both spend time daily teaching Doc and Cathy lessons about horses and life.

Happy Birthday Gals!

Springtime in Montana (part 3)

From Doc:
Spring returns as quickly as it left, and the snow’s moisture has made the pasture lush. Barney (to the left) is enjoying the new grass and has declined to be photographed.

The yellow flowers are not dandelions; they are a small alpine lily.

More driving fun!

From Steve Wood, Elk River, MN:
Wow How time flies. We have been driving every day and haven’t taken time for a new post until now.

Snow has been good for nearly the entire winter. On the last day of January a warm front came through and brought 45 degree air with it. We lost a couple inches of snow that day but we were fortunate enough to not get any Ice. Horses were sweating very easily for a couple days but, my fingers and toes were thinking they had gone on vacation! Sleighrides and driving the team with Vis-a-vis at wedding fairs were keeping us busy on weekends. As expected, winter came back with a vengence and gave us some snow and a bunch of cold. During one of those cold days I retreated to a local retail store to look for warm gloves. That’s a favorite pastime for sleigh drivers don’t ya know. Well I wondered in to the bargain room and what do you suppose I found? A wildlife scouting camera for 39 dollars! My mind’s eye started to decide what tree I might mount that on where I could take picture of horses in training! It works! I get pictures of every horse that walks past that camera. Now I can send photos to owners showing their horse and his latest task.

Well now it did get warm enought for a couple days that we had a big melt and then we had ice. While the ice was soft I drove spreader loads of hay around on the driveway. The hay froze into the ice the next night, and we were able to keep right on working horses being careful to stay in the woods where the sun didn’t melt the snow to create that layer of ice. My neat new camera was pointing up a trail that saw no horses for about 10 days. We got pictures of people and critters walking, but no horses. WE have now moved the camera to a post on the barn and we get photos of us as we pass in front. It’s knida fun.

A neighbor had his wildlife camera set to take videos and he got a video of what he thought was a couger. Mountain cats don’t get into this part of the country very often so he created quite a stir. After the DNR and the local High School Biology department got a chance to view the video it has been determined that we have a very large grey fox in the neighborhood. Whew! NOw back to training horses. The training barn has had some great progress lately. Here’s an update.

Page, our spotted pony trainee has begun working solo. She handles the training shafts and stoneboat combination quite well. She has skid a bit of firewood lately. She loves to keep moving, So right now the hardest thing for her is standing still. Once in a while we have quite a dicussion over where to park. When she decides to give up on her quest to prove perpetual motion she will graduate to the two wheel cart.

Missy, A Welsh pony mare has gone home as a wonderful little driver. She will be competing in the coming years, And I think she will enjoy every bit of it. Good things do come in small packages.

Annie, A Morgan mare is becoming quite a horse. She and her owner are becoming more comfortable with each other each weekend. She is currently at the “I am proud and I know I look good” stage of her life. Her courage is developing nicely. Next weekend her new cart arrives and then a new harness. We haven’t gotten a good photo of her yet, but we’ll publish one soon.

Knight, a paint horse gelding will be heading home to his new driving career this coming weekend. His courage is changing him daily. He has muscles now where he used to have none. He is quiet, calm, and determined to improve every day. His human Mom and Dad got to take Knight out for a solo drive last week and all went well. This is a rather old photo in his old cart but It shows him nicely. Yahoo!

My Turn, the Halflinger Stallion, went home to work in the woods last week. His owner came and drove him single for a bit and then we hitched My Turn with his new halflinger teammate and all went splendidly. He learned his teamwork with our Belgian Gelding Jim and that made a rather comical looking team, but Jim had his work cut out for him in the early going. My Turn was a bit of a cad about town in the begining and I was real glad Jim was there. We wish My Turn nothing but the best of luck in his new career. Isn’t he handsome?

Cassie, a Shire cross mare came in last month. She is currently working very comfortably in training shafts and with the stoneboat. We have spent a few workouts in her two wheeled cart but it’s a bit overwhelming for her as of yet , so we have gone back to the stoneboat to gain some more confidence. She works without blinds, and has a mountain of athletic ability. As a riding horse she can side-pass at a trot! When we are working in the shafts, that side-passing at a trot could give me a bit of a workout. We are working at directing all that ability toward calm forward pulling and standing, then we’ll work out the sidepass later. Lots of fun in the woods working with Cassie as she has such great control over her feet and body. She will stop and swing a few degrees, then pull forward until I need to swing again. That side-pass is coming in very handy.

Two new horses Came in yesterday so I’ll get to know them this week and let you know about them real soon. What could be more fun than that?

Snow forecast for tomorrow, I love this time of year!