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There is a Clydesdale breeder in my area. We often stop by the side of the road to watch them running in the fields. Beautiful animal!

Animal Husbandry — Learn how to drive a draft horse team - In Progress

Today we were mostly doing other things in the 20F weather like cutting trails and firewood, hauling 2 ton of wheat straw for the animal bedding and my oyster mushrooms. But we work with the horse every day and the new rule is... you get no sweet feed until you stick your head into the halter. We have to do this anyway as we have to separate "Whiskers" from 'Cody" as "Whiskers" is a hoover vacuum leaving "Cody" very little.

When the farrier was here yesterday, we noted that "Whiskers" does not have ground manners up to my standards, so we are working with him more, but "Cody" as well. My theory always has been "The bigger you are, the better you better behave". Even my cattle used to pick up their feet on command. "Whiskers", not so much. "Cody" even without a halter will pick his feet up in the field for you and anticipate each one as you move to it, but we need to work on other things with him. They do seem respectful of where your body is however, which is a good thing since they weigh about 1,800 pounds each.

My goals for the next two weeks:


* Standing without pawing the ground [ ]
* Ground tying [ ]
* Standing quietly when tied [ ]
* Come when called [X]
* Picking up his feet when asked [ ]
* Lower his head into the halter [X] His is doing this much better

* Ground tying [ ]
* Come when called [X]
* Lower his head into the halter [ ]
They are both coming when called now in this last week. I have never used catch grain per se to catch any of my horses, but I teach them to come to me, put their head in a halter, then they get lead out of the field and then fed. Usually within 2 weeks, they come cantering to me when they see a halter as something yummy is probably in the works.

I was a bit nervous about "Cody's" back feet as the former owner told me he was touchy with them and he was a bit sketchy when I was checking him out prior to purchase, but after washing them off in the garden hose yesterday, I found that he would willingly pick them up for me. The new rule with "Whiskers" is that he gets a bit of grain after he picks up each foot for me while he is in halter (and "Cody" gets to eat in peace).


Animal Husbandry — Learn how to drive a draft horse team - In Progress

The rule for all of my horses over the years, is you get called from the pasture, you stick your head into a halter and THEN and only then you get to eat your grain. The boys have learned this lesson pretty well, the piglet "Whiskers" is super easy to catch now and "Cody" still is like "SERIOUSLY?". Yes, seriously "Cody". But he is 4x easier to catch than before. I think another week and he will be easy to catch on the first try.

"Cody" is taller than "Whiskers" so I usually let Z catch him up and I have been working on getting "Whiskers" to lower his head for me when I put the halter on and off. I put pressure right behind his poll and then he moves his head away from it, downward. If he lifts his head up, I can't even reach his chin. So he is learning what "Lower your head please" means.

While they are eating their grain, we make them pick up their feet. "Cody" is still awesome on all 4 feet, but "Whiskers" plants them solid. Yesterday and today I got him to pick up his front feet in trade for a honey pretzel reward. It is forward progress.

This morning a person from TSP runs draft horses and invited me to be his 'helper' at an Ag event in April. So even if I don't get any hands on time with the team, I will be taking lots of mental notes on harnessing, working and driving them.


amazing list... amazing progress Cedar!

One of my 2200lb. percheron didn't like to pick up his feet for me so we had to work on it. I also practiced when he was having his grain. I would run my hand down his leg to the hoof which is my cue that it is time to clean his hoof. They move slowly so this gives them time to shift their weight and prepare. When I get to the hoof I say "foot!" and give them another second to process and pick it up. If they do not I poke the back of the foot just above the hoof with the hoof pick. Always start with the smallest amount of pressure. You want the horse to respond to your asking them to do something. If that doesn't work, I apply pressure and make it uncomfortable to do the wrong thing. When they do what I want I release the pressure and praise them. If your horses are prone to kicking at all be very careful. Now my boys are so good at picking up their feet I can't get them to leave them on the ground when I am brushing their legs!


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