- November 19, 2008 at 12:27 pm #39917RodParticipant
This post could fit the oxen category as well as horse so feel free to comment on oxen as well.
I am curious about the commands gee and haw as the pertain to the animals perception. I have an oxen video where the narrator mentions that the gee command is for the nigh ox to speed up and vis a versa for the haw command. I know the responses the commands result in but am not sure what or to whom they are speaking. For instance if the gee command is telling the nigh animal to speed up then when worked single it would not result in a turn but more forward speed. Since my animals came to me trained already I don’t know how to completely understand these commands as I would like and as I might if I would if I had taught them myself. Understanding the better would help with variations of them such as back haw etc.November 20, 2008 at 12:39 am #48198jen judkinsParticipant
Rod, I’ve been waiting all day for someone to answer your question! I’m dying to know, lol:D.
My feeling is that ‘gee’ and ‘haw’ are simply words and it is the teamsters reinforcement of these words that determine their definition to the horse or ox. I don’t work a team, so the words apply only to my single draft and I have a very specific idea of what he needs to do in response to each word before he recieves a release (he is still learning…only 2 yo). But my idea might be different from yours and so we will have a different outcome all together, depending on the situation. You could use the word ‘tequila’ and teach a very specific manuvuer if you reinforce just right.
This might be a good opportunity to simply learn from your horses. Since they are already trained, observe what their response is to each word and use that information to solidify the response…if it is what you want.
Hopefully someone who know something will chime in. Jennifer.November 21, 2008 at 12:56 am #48195Carl RussellModerator
Gee and Haw are definitely directional commands, they are not designated for one or another of the animals. There are situations with cattle where back-haw, or back-gee may indicate that one animal back in that direction while the other goes ahead, but those specific movements are part of the communication, either with whip or lines that the teamster adds to the guidance.
When turning a team, especially under load, the animal on the inside should actually step ahead to keep power on the load, whereas if it slacks off, the outside animal will have the whole load, and the turn will not be smooth.
If you want to give particular animal more guidance use their name. A common misunderstanding is that animals have names like humans, so we know who they are. In fact their name is only a command, to accentuate another command, or to get their attention.
It is a big help to keep commands simple, Gee, Haw, Whoa, Back, then your favorite, of Ready,”Kiss”, Step, or Come-up, and Easy, or Walk. And remember to have them stop between commands, such as “Step-up Haw. Whoa. Back. Whoa. Ready, “Kiss”.” You can turn them from side to side while working, but reinforcing with voice.
As far as their perception, it is up to the teamster to guide them to the expected response. Don’t expect an animal to know that Gee means to go to the right. They only understand that you have an expected response to the word you just spoke, and from experience it means to move away from the teamster, or the nigh animal, or whatever. If they sense that you are inconsistent in your expectation, or utterance of the command, then they will become sloppy, or pushy and self motivated.
I never worry about what anybody else taught them to do, or even what their name is (I’ve changed weird (my opinion)names to suit myself), because I will decide what I want them to do, and how to react to any command I choose.
Another aspect of commands that may not be noticeable is the intonation and enunciation that helps the animal distinguish specific instructions. Gee, from the teeth and front of the mouth, a hard EE. Haw from the throat and a soft AW. Whoa from the lips and front of the mouth, backed up by the throat and a hard O. Back From the lips, soft aa, with a kick. The problem with easy and walk is they have sounds like gee, and whoa, and can add to confusion.
As Jen said you can use “Tequila” for a command, but simple, basic sounds help to make commands consistent. The same goes for names in my mind. Ben, Dan, Duke, Rob, Peg, Bright, Lion, Star, are quick and distinctive.
I realize that everyone has preferences about their animals’ names, so I don’t mean anything negative about other personal choices, just that I was introduced to a traditional school of thought.
CarlMay 13, 2009 at 11:53 am #48202LStoneParticipant
What would a standard command for moving over, or side stepping be? In the stall I use the directional “Gee” or “Haw”-“over” verbal accompanied by a pat on the opposite side of the rump. but is that appropriate for driving? If not what is generally a standard command used? Not having much success with tequila, but beer is a good motivator Jen.
LarryMay 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm #48196Donn HewesKeymaster
L stone, The further you get from the basic gee, haw, and whoa, the more variations you will find amongst different teamsters. I use “come gee” and “come haw” I usually precede it with the name of the animal on the side I am going to. Sounds like “Ethel, come gee” or “George come haw”. I try to limit how I use “come gee” and “come haw” for true side passes. I use “move over” or “get over” when they are tied up.
I try not to use good old gee and haw much. Most turns in a field or wood don’t require any words. I save it for when I want a little more or sharper. It is almost like a preparatory command that lets everyone know where we are going. If there is a stump in front of us and I want everyone going around it the same way. Often the less said the better. DonnMay 13, 2009 at 3:07 pm #48204Tim HarriganParticipant
With cattle we typically use terms like ‘put in’ or ‘put out’, or ‘step in’ or ‘step out’. With oxen verbal commands are primarily a wake-up call alerting them that you expect something other. They will respond to a verbal request but their first inclination is to gather more information by checking out body language and other physical queues because we do not have the physical link from hand to mouth as with horses and mules. So if you want a more rapid response on a tight turn for instance it takes an additional touch and perhaps a visual sign like stepping back and away if you want them to ‘haw to’ or hold the load and swing to the left.
Donn is right about the silence. My best days with Will and Abe are when I don’t say much of anything. Something changes when I keep it quiet. They seem to watch a little closer and take a little more responsibility in the process. They will begin to start, stop and turn with a slight turn of the wrist or change in position if I am next to them. I think they appreciate it. And I appreciate the simple sounds of a quiet team at work. Small stone, big ripple.May 13, 2009 at 10:34 pm #48205karl t pfisterParticipant
I saw a man once who drove a pair of horses with gee ,haw, whoa and walk on ,they went a lot more like oxen than horses, he held the reins with very little contact , it worked for him. I long ago thought it might be fun to start my team with OK , well ok comes up in conversation alot more than I would have thought ,at least on sleigh rides,with unexpected starts ,not fun. I ‘m going to work on gee in the stall and gee hooking up and gee going laterally while hooked and haw etc , its all about movement in one direction not involving forward or back.I already have it but don’t call it the same thing .I do agree they will turn you off if you micromanage them …May 14, 2009 at 12:33 am #48199near horseParticipant
I too use “Red, come gee (or haw) ” and “Ranger, come gee” to get my team to execute I guess what you’d call a side pass turn (no forward motion – just pivots the cart/plow in place – like at the end of the field when plowing w/ a sulky). The problem I have is one horse completely understands what we’re trying to do but his team mate doesn’t seem to get it. When we turn toward the “more aware” horse, he almost drags the other horse through the turn. Going the other way, the tongue (if there is one) pushes him over.
So how do I school the horse that doesn’t seem to get it? I have tried hooking them both to something like a tractor tire and then work them both directions “come gee” and “come haw” – no tongue or furrow to try and stay in. He does ok but still pretty clumsy. The other horse is right on the money.
BTW – plowed some more this past weekend and then helped plant some beardless barley for a cereal grain hay crop. I wasn’t on the 6′
drill but pulled an 8 ‘ roller behind a forecart to press and cover the seed. Heck of a good time.May 14, 2009 at 1:11 am #48197Donn HewesKeymaster
geoff, Here is my two cents. Some horses pick this up very quickly and are eager to show what they can do. Most horses and mules would rather go forward or back than move side ways. The trick is to not let the eager horse rush the event. Focus on useing both lines to turn to the side. The first one tells them which way to go ( same as the voice command). The other hand can limit how fast they turn. Make a goal of not touching anyone with the tongue, not all ways easy to do, but the right idea. Instead of doing a 180 make them stop and collect themselves if need be. DonnMay 14, 2009 at 10:41 am #48203LStoneParticipant
Thanks for your replys. My team Roy and Lucy are 4 and 3 respectively. They are reletively green, but I use them for what I can, consistantly 3 or 4 times a week. We go OK but I think I want to take them to another milestone with the “side passes” if that is the term used for only lateral movement either direction. I am currently using “over haw” or “over gee” as commands in harness for this. What I am reading here is that there may not be a “standard” command for a sidepass and that “come” or “over” would both be acceptable depending on the teamster.
By the way I am going about this part of the training by heading them up to a wall or fence line and having them execute. I have also had them hitched to the forecart and pivoting it around in circles. I am not as impressed with that method because the opposite side horse (from side) tends to turn and push towards the pole and the direction of movement. I think I prefer the method of ground driving facing an obsticle. I notice that I seem to consistantly encourage them resist the urge to back up. Usually I spend about half an hour on this before we do the labor of the day, be it cord wood, or road work. They seem to want to respond but I think they are still working out the team interaction between themselves and probably will try to use them single more to build confidence.
LarryMay 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm #48201Ronnie TuckerParticipant
in tn we use the word yee instead of gee i might not spelled it right but one line is the best way to break either one or a team to listen to you some would call it a jerk line i donot see hardly any stock up north that will work with voice commands every one has their hands on them all the time in the woods i seldom use the line when going back to the log pile but the key to the training is you need a load to keep them from to much forward motion till they catch on youall would be much safer following the log than up front with the lines in your hands if you break your stock to mind you this will work fine ronnie tucker tn loggerMay 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm #48200near horseParticipant
Thanks for the suggestion(s). I might add that one of my teamster buddies mentioned that to swing the team around much of the job is actually executed by the outside horse who has to step up (not meaning forward here) and swing around – he has to cover some ground to get us turned. When I got on him a bit, things worked a little better. Probably needs more reps.May 14, 2009 at 5:35 pm #48207Nat(wasIxy)Participant
I dont like gee and haw…i have a hard enough time working out left and right in my head without adding another word! I’ve just made up all my commands and tried to pick words that sound distinctive and unlike the names. Luckily left and right sound very different! I use ‘walkon!’ to get them going, ‘stand’ for stop and ‘steadyyyy’ for ‘DONT RUSH YOU LITTLE BRATS!?’ 😀 I use ‘over’ to get them to move their hinds away from me when they’re tied so I think for sidestepping (which I havent tried yet) I’ll use the ‘put in’and ‘put out’ idea…January 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm #48206whoamuleParticipant
You all have covered every possible comibnation I could think of but I thought I’d just add my personal preference to the mix. In the corral I always use the “get over” command to side step them away from me while grooming, feeding, trimming and vetting. When driving or logging “Gee over” and “Haw over” mean to fan, to swing sideways not stepping forward or back. I just use lines while driving except use “Gee” of “Haw” to sharpen the turn.
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