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- February 5, 2016 at 9:42 pm #87561JaredWoodcockParticipant
I have had the new team for a couple of weeks and we have been doing odd jobs but they are still a little out of shape. I have a few bigger logs that I need to pull for a job and I need some help on planning the workload. I am logging a farm woodlot for a customer to build a pole barn. Today I dropped some bigger aspen and I dont want to push the horses too hard. The butt logs range from 16 to 24 inches and they are 16 foot lengths, Mostly down hill skid about 1000 feet through hayfields. I will be using an arch. What is a good game plan?
ThanksFebruary 6, 2016 at 6:14 am #87569
Hard to know exactly. These types of things need to be worked out specific to the horses and conditions, but if you start with an easy pull, then get into harder pulls, and back to easier, you should use them well.
If you can use a “cradle” hitch with the big logs it will help lifting the logs. That is using two chokers at once, each opposite the other, with choker hooks low on each sides of the log. That way the lift will be from the bottom of the log, not from the top where it will be with one choker.
Also it is my preference to work the horses in steps. Start them. Stop, check chains, etc make sure things look good, go again, but stop the, before they get ready to stop on their own. Sometimes they are feeling really good, and you can let them step out 10-20 yards on the first draw, but the point is to not grab and go the whole distance. If they can move it, they can pull it the whole way, the trick is to keep them wanting to. You can tire a horse faster by going too far too fast than you can with a heavy load moving methodically.
A good horse will go farther than they should, so you should watch them closely. If they are keeping a fast pace, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are having an easy time. I like to stop them while they are still in a power walk, exerting good power, not too fast, or slowing down too much. They will quickly figure out if you are keeping them full of power or letting them wear themselves out, and that is when you will run into problems. if they get used to running out of steam, they will be less likely to try again. It may seem counterintuitive to stop them so frequently, but do it. I have found significant returns. And look for ideal places to stop…. Like before they get hung. Choose a nice little slope where the starting will be easier. They’ll remember that and start with power every time.
They are working for you, but you have to be right in there with them, reading their reactions, and managing their exertion. Sometimes horses that are not in shape, or not used to heavy loads can get pretty nervous, so keeping them focused on your leadership is important, because nerves again can wear a horse out faster than heavy weight.
The reason I mention the cradle hitch is because you can always find some way to cheat. You will always have limited power when working with horses, so having a lot of tricks up your sleeve will be important. This is where the work gets really interesting for me. What can I do with my mind to make this physical work easier? Is there another device that I can use, that may take a bit more time, but can make the work easier, and therefore effective? Maybe a skidding pan, or stone boat under the logs behind the arch, etc.
Using rolling hitches to ease the starting weight by getting the log to roll before they get under the full weight. Momentum can be a huge confidence builder. Drawing off line can do something similar as it is easier for them to pull the end of the log sideways than than dead ahead. If you get hung on a log that they just can’t move, don’t despair, just come back to it, change your perspective. If you can keep them willing by working on something else, when you come back they will try again.
CarlFebruary 6, 2016 at 9:58 am #87572
I just thought of a few more things regarding power, stamina, and cheating. I know many people who look at working animals, and at weight, think that it is a matter of making strong animals to move heavy weight…. and while that is true to some extent, honesty, and workabilty are much more important than strength alone……. and the humility and creativity of the teamster is even more important than that.
Many years ago I had a young man come to shadow me as part of his highschool senior project. He was a 4-H ox teamster and had just started hanging out with pullers. After watching me work with my Holsteins, moving really big white pine logs from trees with 1200 bf, cutting saplings in the way of the best approaches, taking extra time felling trees in optimum position, using bobsled on individual logs, he said “Man you go out of your way to make it easy for them”!!! Yep, that’s right… that’s the point.
One of my mentors always said “It’s not the size of the hitch, but the number of logs on the landing at the end of the day that counts”….. and by this he meant logs piled neatly in a place where work could continue, and log trucks could reach them. We are working animals not just pulling weight.
Last winter I had an intern. A relatively small woman whom had never run a chainsaw much and wanted to learn as part of her work here. I have a very small Husky that starts easy, and was an ideal size for her to handle easily. I realize that I am pretty big and somewhat powerful because I use my body often, but I also know how to pace myself, and to use ergonomics to my advantage. To me the time spent with a small saw actually tires me out more than when I use my 70cc Husky. So at some point I said to her that I find that a larger more powerful saw actually saves me energy at the end of the day because of how I handle it, and she said she wanted me to show her. I rest the saw against my hip or thigh when carrying it, I rest the saw on the tree trunk when delimbing, and I always move my feet and position the saw so as to hold my balance under the weight of the saw….. Her response was “You’re cheating”…. well duh!!!She started using the big saw, and verified my assertion.
So the arch is a fantastic piece of equipment, and it is what you are working with now, and it can be used very effectively with large diameter logs, but don’t box yourself into that one perspective. The idea is to get those logs to the landing in a way that builds your relationship with those horses. Cheat the reality. Figure out how to make it happen, whatever that means, because it won’t be the last time you’re faced with this….. especially if you are successful.
Make it easy for them. Be a proud cheater.
CarlFebruary 8, 2016 at 9:07 pm #87594Brad JohnsonParticipant
Carl and Jared-
Could not agree more with what has been said thus far. I am constantly searching for ways to make life easier for myself and my team. I frequently use chain rolls and cradle hitches – those small adjustments can make all the difference for my team over the course of a long day with larger diameter wood. And, the more tricks and tools you have at your disposal the better off you will be; some days I use the arch, then on others I use a the bobsled or scoot, and others call for working on the ground. The trick seems to be to have multiple tools and strategies in your cap and then apply them at the appropriate time. In terms of how to work my team into good working shape, I try to think of how I would get myself into shape for work – slow, consistent, and focused work. I can tell when I have asked too much of my horses too soon, and then it is time to dial it back. If you know your horses, you will know recognize when this has happened. And, when they are really dialed in I push them with longer days and more work, which they seem to enjoy. I guess in the end, it is a matter of knowing your animals and paying enough attention to them to recognize what they need.
-BradFebruary 9, 2016 at 12:09 am #87598JaredWoodcockParticipant
Thanks Guys, Because these are new horses and I am new to pulling bigger logs with horses I want to make sure I am not going to over work them. I can take shorter lengths but If they can handle 24in and 16ft then I would prefer to take it out like that. I have an old tongue truck from a road grader that I have used for moving logs around. Maybe for the butt logs I will bring that along to get them off the ground.
Trust me Carl I know all about cheating, I have worked alone most of my life and I am 6ft tall and 145lbs wet but I have a bull’s attitude. I need as much leverage and cheating as possible to get the job done.
Any signs that you guys key into with your horses to know if the log is too big and should wait until they are in better shape or be cut shorter? These mares have a lot of go so I dont want to rely strictly on the fact that they think they can do it.
February 9, 2016 at 6:48 am #87601
- This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by JaredWoodcock.
All I can say Jared is that I don’t go right out and ask my horses to pull big heavy loads. The horses I am working now have a lot of experience pulling large loads, but I always find light work to warm them up on, and to watch their response.
That is why I mentioned before to start with smaller logs and build up. If you leave all the heavy logs to move later, it will not be a suitable recipe. I mix in heavy with light to maintain confidence.
I cannot tell you exactly what I look for to determine if I should continue or stop. It has to do with their attitude. Are they eager? Are they working together? Heavy breathing is good, but you should manage that and allow them to catch their breath. Like Brad says, you have to put yourself in their position. How would you pace yourself if you had a big pile of firewood and a wheelbarrow with a long steep uphill to the woodshed, and a limited amount of time to get it moved? Then figure out what that means for this team in that situation.
I want to say that it has been brought to my attention that “cheating” carries negative connotations. I only use it here in its most pragmatic definition. ” (intransitive) To violate rules in order to gain advantage from a situation.” Gaining advantage over physics, not being nefarious or ill-intentioned.
I should also point out that this is a craft, and shortcuts that contribute to personal success and competency are the name of the game. People who want to judge others on the use of imposed standards have some other purposes. I personally never have halters under bridles, I feel it is unnecessary, but I have never suggested that others are somehow shirking their responsibility if they choose differently. And I don’t judge anyone on using a certain method that I do not. All I can do is rationalize my own choices…..
Good luck, Carl
February 9, 2016 at 7:02 am #87602Donn HewesKeymaster
- This reply was modified 4 years, 1 month ago by Carl Russell.
A couple days ago I dropped two big ash trees in the hope that good skidding weather was coming. I definitely wanted to use snow as these are 30″ or better, and a ways to go. I started to limb them but didn’t finish bucking them up, as it was time for chores. As I was walking back to the barn I started thinking of all the branches and poles I can throw under them before I buck the logs up. I know this is really simple and basic, but not getting in the woods much I was glad I thought of it before my log where flat on the ground.February 9, 2016 at 8:16 am #87605Does’ LeapParticipant
Carl has posted this many times and the past and it is a good one to live by: “Go light and go often.”
In terms of signs of overwork and general fitness, I look for recovery time in the horses’ respiration. They can breath heavily, but if it is taking them a long time to slow down their breathing it is a sign that you are pushing too much.
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