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!