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.
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”.
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!