April 24 2022.I really have enjoyed the horses and as I spend time with them every day we all get better. But there is the odd thing that happens such as today. Yesterday Ginger did not want to hook up to the disc with the other two horses so I switched her out for Duke which then worked fine. So what was bothering Ginger? I put a lead on her and decided to find out what was wrong. With the lead she was fine and would back up just fine but as soon as I put her in front of the wagon she refused to backup. So that was it she was bothered by the wagon or implement behind her. So I began with some training with her practising backing up with the wagon behind. So lets see how she does in a week of these exercises.

Dec 29 2021.

Heading back home with a load of firewood. Just finished rebuilding the sleigh in time for the snow. This is Duke and Jim pulling the sleigh.

As of April 2021 we have four horses. Jim. Duke Chief and a new Belgium Ginger. I doubt that she had ever had a bit in her mouth or even harnessed. I took about training her and she progressed well. I have even got her plowing and having the honour of being in the furrow. All of my horses are over 15 years old and of no more use to the Amish.

The real trick I have found with my horses is to do something every day with them. Jim is a good example. In 2020 he got spooked and ran away with the other horses with our Sickle mower. Luckily for us there was only slight damage but it could have been a lot worse. I swore he would never be used again but I have spent time with him doing things like brushing him, doing exercises with him and it has paid off. “I have used him successfully in a three horse, and two horse team as well as by himself. I do not work my horses for long periods nor with very heavy loads because of their age and I must also remember I too am 73 years old this year. (2021)

Today was May 1 2021 and it was most successful using Jim and Chief on the tyne weeder. I never really thought that Jim would be very good since the last time he just wanted to go home after a few rounds. Today he and Chief were excellent and completed both fields for the sunflowers. So again just so much to learning how to use draft horses.

I first took draft horse lessons with Ken Laing. I really enjoyed the course but the thing I forgot was that his horses were very well trained. I actually took two courses. In 2015 Dorothee and I purchased a farm and decided to get a horse. One of our Amish friends offered to sell us one of his old horses named Major. We learned a lot from him and we decided to get another named Queen, then followed Duke and Jim. Major was sent into retirement. Next I got a young horse from Ken Laing, a Suffolk punch named Flynn. He turned out to be a very fine horse but unfortunately he got colic and had to be put down. This was a very big disappointment for me as he was the best horse I could ever get.

Mat plowing with Chief and Ginger

After about 6 years of working with horses I still feel I do not yet fully understand them. I have certainly learned to command them and get the work done but each horse is so different and they seem to change. Theses changes are confusing to me. For example Chief has been one of the most dependable steady horse over the last couple of years. Lately he has taken to pulling too hard on a team so I relegated him to single horse work like pulling the sled with the chainsaw up to the woods. But today I decided that he would work with Jim as a team and together they did very well spreading manure. Jim has had a rough time last year. During the fall hay cutting Jim decided to suddenly spook and headed out to the road with two other horses in harness with the Sickle mower in tow. Luckily no one was hurt and the damage to the mower was minor. The sickle mower could easily have been trashed. I put Jim in pasture for a month or two then decided to work with him again. I have been spending a lot more time with each horse this winter and Jim has certainly calmed down a lot so that I have been using him in various tasks and even used him with Chief today to spread manure on a field. Jim and Chief did a .great job.

Suzie and family

Ginger is our newest horse. After Flynn died I started looking of a new horse and found that there were few to be had. After a number of tries I found Ginger from an Amish horse seller. She is 13 years old and I found out that she probably had never been in harness so I began the long chore of training her. We worked together almost every day and eventually I was able to put a bridle on her. There were a number of anxious moments, sometimes for seemingly no reason she would spook but I stayed with it and in a number of cases stuck with the out of control horse to rein her in and continue the training. She is constantly looking and following me around now and a few days ago I decided to team her with Duke to do some plowing with Ginger in the furrow. It was a bit of a hair raiser at first but successive days she got much better.. and I improved too by also making adjustments to the plow. I have taken it quite easy doing only about 45 minutes of plowing a day and some days are really good and I need only a light touch on the reins.

Mat Packing field mar 2021

Working with our horses is always a challenge as to what they are capable of and who to match them up as a team.

Mat getting firewood mar 2021

May 11 2021

When Ginger decided that she did not want to wear hr halter I had to devise a method to convince her to trust me. So I used the rope around the head and without pulling lead the horses using verbal commands. This method really worked well. The horses now walk beside me as I click to get them going and then say whoa... Each day gets better. This has enticed Ginger to partake in this exercise to getting her halter back on. It has taught me a lot too as I spend more time with the horses every day doing more exercises. Ginger looks on and many times wants to be part of the fun.

Mat with a new technique of teaching the horses verbal commands.

Agatha and friends visiting the horses

I encourage people to walk the horses and then brush them

Dorothee and I put a fence around our east garden but the winter kill cover crop did not do what I wanted so I had to plow it. To avoid more soil disturbance I decided to pack the garden and the best thing I could think of for packing it was a couple of horses with myself which makes it a 10 foot packer. May 25 2021

When I am finished in the fields i need Dorothee to help unhook the horses and take off the harness. She is there when I return from the fields and takes over taking the horses to the hitching post. It would be quite impossible to work with the horses without her.