We are transitioning our conventional organic garden to a regenerative organic no-till garden. Many changes will have big effects! We are using heavy compost to form permanent beds and continue to build organic matter. We are using heavy mulches between rows to reduce weed pressure. Cover crops that add organic biomass, fix nitrogen in the permanent beds, cover and protect the soil are planted in fallow areas and at the base of crops. Tarps were used over the winter and early spring and until beds are created or planted to reduce weed pressure by smothering weeds and weed seed. We will post progress throughout the transition…wish us luck as it feels like we are in totally new territory..the learning curve is high!
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?
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.
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).
While doing springtime chores that prepare us for the 2021 Workshop season, we are thinking of what you might be interested in.
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.
To view our latest email as a pdf file, click the link below
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.
This side view shows the ‘bale spike’ mounted on the back. This component was purchased and added to the back of the flatbed wagon.
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.
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.
The spike is set horizontally as the wagon is backed up to spear the bale.
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.
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.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to call
Doc 406-250-8252 or Contact Us, Cathy 406-890-3083
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 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 Now!: $38.00 + $7.50 shipping.
order from Doc via
- phone 406-250-8252
- Mail: send Name, address, phone number and payment to PO Box 785, St. Ignatius, MT 59865
- Web store
A Fine Team of Three
We visited with them as they were getting ready to leave, in the early Montana light. Here is Bayln with his new team of Belgians, 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 his wife Ellie, in North West Washington. Please join us wishing them well as he puts these nice horses to work on their market farm growing organic veggies and berries in the Sequim, Washington area.
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.