It’s In The Books!

Since I didn’t take any pictures today, I am going to repost a few of my favorites. This one I really like a lot. Click on the pictures to increase their size.

This is going to conclude the August 2012 Teamdonk Blog.  Luc and Galahad have driven a total of seven times in the last two weeks.  Including today they added 33.68 miles to their overall total plus an additional 14 hours/55 minutes.  It was cool with the overnight reading at 40 degrees and it stayed on the cooler side until almost noon.  It was extremely smoky, but not so bad that it hurt our drive.  This one turned into a combination of road and field driving and we had a great time.

Here is Luc watching Jim cut the last of the soft white wheat.

I was recently reading an article written about Doc Hammill, who is one of my favorite draft teamsters and clinicians.  Doc was quoted as saying, “Stopping well, standing well and staying put are the most important “gaits” for any driving horse.”  Isn’t that a wonderful statement and oh so true!  Both teams do a great job of standing, today Teamdonk #1 was perfect in that department.

The article was in Aug/Sept Rural Heritage with the mini donkey on the cover cultivating sweet corn…. so cute!  The feature focused on having a rhythmic way of handling the lines and how it benefits our driving animals… I am going to be working on that as I think I throw away my lines too much with Merlin and Hank, who don’t seem to need as much contact.  With Luc and Galahad I am much more conscious about line contact and going with their flow. 

At all times I am diligent about paying attention to what is happening around us, I need to see wildlife before the teams do.  These were a couple of things that were discussed in the article as well as non-verbal, non-physical communication, it was very well written with several other great driving topics. 

One more point of interest that Doc stated was; “My goal when driving is to be extremely consistent with the words I use and how I use them.  I am very conscious and disciplined; specifically I don’t want to confuse or desensitize my horses with meaningless verbal chatter.”  This is an excellent statement and one I am always thinking about.  Doc uses the horses name only when he wants forward movement.  I use the donkey’s name when I want to correct a behavior.  Luc! quit it… that’s a popular one.  Galahad, head up… also popular.  Hank… step up!  Now I also use the donkey’s name when it goes like this… Merlin, good boy!  Hank, good boy!  Here are my popular directions, Gee, Haw, my walk on cue has evolved into Okay Boys or a cluck and that is all that is needed.  I noticed on the video I use their names more but I have since quit doing that as much.  Now if I want a trot I still use still their names and the word trot with more animation in my voice or with or without their names I use hup hup!  It’s interesting what we all do that is a little different but it’s important to remember it’s the little things that are huge to our driving animals.

I will leave you with one more of Doc’s great quotes, “For driving, both the horses and the people must be better trained than for riding.”  I certainly agree!  Jennifer Morrissey of Gould, Colorado penned the article entitled “Where Driving Differs”.

One more August favorite!

Between work and harvest we missed most of the first part of the month to drive, so we made up for it these last two weeks.  We were close to 26 hours and 65 miles of driving in August!  Next drive will be September 5th.  To those in the US have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend, see ya all next month!



About Teamdonk

Teamdonk is all about Kristi's three driving and riding donkeys. Join us as we share our adventures. Meet the boys Luc, Galahad and Merlin. Don't forget to visit the older blogs at, 2010, 2011, 2012 13 & 14 add the year like this
This entry was posted in Driving Donkeys, Equine Driving, Mammoth Donkeys, Teamdonk #1. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It’s In The Books!

  1. kshai1715 says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the most important gaits in a driving horse. There is no doubt that whoa and stand were an absolute must for me. I often hitch “out in the world”, either loose in the arena or in the driveway, and my horses must stand and wait so I can get the shafts around them. I typically never hitch in a situation where my horse is tied in any way. Plus, when leaving our driveway, we always have to whoa and check for traffic.

    I am very very specific with what words I use and how I say them. Whoa absolutely means whoa and stand, period. I will reinforce whoa with a hold on the reins if they do not stop on voice alone. Whoa never means slow down or come back. For that I say “easy” or I’ll say “nice and simple” or just “simple” when I like them where they are, and don’t want them to change anything. Walk on means walk, and is reinforced with a cluck on failure of voice commands. Trot On is trot on and a cluck will reinforce. I use a cluck to get more action, too, if I want them to move out a bit more, or not lag down on me. I will use the commands road gait and park gait for the appropriate trots I am looking for, and I will say “left, left!” and “right,right!” for turns.

    Pretty much the horses know all of these commands, as I’ve used them consistently all the time. For the most part, they will respond to verbal cues alone, but I’ll reinforce with the reins when I need, otherwise, I am just usually using my reins to get flexion and bend if I can (still a work in progress for me).

    My biggest issue for sure is “chatter”. I say all these commands, in addition to almost constantly having some line of verbal communication going on… things like “good boy!” “keep going!” “you got it!” “yep! yep!”…. or even the occasional phone call 😉

    I need to work on that. When I practice my dressage, I go through the test once with chatter, and once where I make sure I shut up! lol!

    • Teamdonk says:

      What an excellent response. Sounds like we practice what Doc preaches! Thanks for taking the time to reply to this post. I sometimes have to answer the phone also when driving, I think it’s good for them!
      🙂 Kristi

  2. lakota07 says:

    Nice little piece. I have a standard donkey that is trained for driving (I adopted her from Best Friends Sanctuary) haven’t had her out because I don’t have harness yet and the cart someone gave me needs some repair. Used to drive my Percheron and was taught by a man who was taught by Doc Hammill. Sure do miss driving and hope to get back into it next Spring.

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