Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Mules › Training them to Stand
- December 4, 2011 at 6:11 am #43271MNMULEParticipant
So a question for all of you out there. I was wondering how you trained your teams to stand. I have a team I have been driving for three years now and they will stand pretty good for the most part. I use them a lot and have had them on a ton of wagon trains used them a lot of hours so I’ve kind of been thinking this would be something that would come naturally. It seems like though just when I think they are going to stand, they won’t. Usually one mule will just start to walk off for no reason and of course they both try to leave then. I am used to this because its pretty typical for them and so I never have had any near wrecks or anything because I’m always close to the lines or in the wagon. I guess my question is, is there something ya’ll do to reinforce standing and not moving until they are told otherwise? I know there must be some trick out there extra to help them know what they are supposed to do. I have brakes on my wagon and if I have them locked up and they start to walk off they’ll stop as soon as they feel the wagon not moving. I don’t always have brakes though on every vehicle and don’t want to have to count on these. This is about the only fault I find with this team right now. I really like them but would like to fix this bad habit they have.December 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm #70577Donn HewesKeymaster
There have been lots of posts about standing in the past. I don’t know how easy it would be to search them. Lots of folks have different ideas about standing. First of all I really doubt there is “some trick” out there. I think there are a lot of steps that going into making a team stand well.
First, I make sure an animal will stand in their initial training. Loose and unrestrained, hoof care and harnessing. This won’t teach them to stand indefinitely, but it does start to build the expectation that we can ask them to stand while we work around them.
Second, make simple opportunities for them to stand. Sometime because we hook for an hour, there is no real need to rest a horse. As a result some horses don’t get much of a chance to practice good standing behavior. I stop to talk to someone or something like that when ever I can. Eventually they will except this as normal and relax until you are ready to go. When an animal becomes restless, but before it walks off, it is time to go.
Some folks feels that making a horse tired is the best way to teach them to stand. Certainly a tired horse is motivated to stand, but that is not the only way to teach them to stand, just as that is not the only time we want them to stand.
I do believe their ability to stand will improve over time, but that is because we choose each place for them to practice and we know when to ask them to move.December 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm #70580LStoneParticipant
Not even sure how it happened in my case, but I don’t have much of an issue with any of my “Bigguns” staying put. many trips in the woods and doing errands I am sure helped to establish acceptable behavior. About once a month I go for a hay run at a local farmer’s and they stand and wait while loading and more importantly unloading the wagon. About a hundred bales worth. The unloading part has an electric tape relatively near their noses but nothing would stop them from backing away. I would estimate, at least 3/4 an hour to load and an hour and to unload the hay. All I can suggest is practice and then more practice. Even now, I trust but don’t trust. We have had mistakes and I always treat it as a dynamic situation but we are always comfortable. Best of luck.December 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm #70583karl t pfisterParticipant
Hay I met a fellow in central Vt.who would hook the end of his sap sled to an immovable object and leave them in his barnyard . They couldn’t get the traction on his concrete yard to really yank it enough to break free , he said it worked great , Thats the only trick I
know . But I’m with Donn teaching them to stand when they are young is it .!
My trouble is that they didn’t learn standing when they were young and now if asked to stand in a place that makes them anxious
they want to rub on the yoke ,with potential of getting hooked on the bit equaling no control for ME! The hooks on my hold backs
to the yoke are open with the metal loop allowing one way access. This is my only complaint with D ring harness set up . There are
fancy closed loop hold back hooks with a pull string release ( the combined driving people use ) they are $60 EACH . Anybody got into this
quandary ? thanksDecember 6, 2011 at 12:52 am #70579Ronnie TuckerParticipant
tying them and letting stand is good for them be they young or older.if you keep them reined upgood they wont rub on your breast yoke so much.wet collar pads are good to teach them to stand where you put them.tying the back of a wagon to something solid works fine.when i brake mules i let them stand with the tongue tied to a post or tree. ronnie tuckerDecember 6, 2011 at 12:54 am #70578Donn HewesKeymaster
Hi Karl, I found out this summer that there are a couple of different hooks to use on that front side strap. The ones I have face side to side, and horse’s bits can get caught on them. The other one’s point down and are a lot harder to get caught on. I plan to change these hooks this winter.December 7, 2011 at 9:41 pm #70573Gabe AyersKeymaster
I have horses, but spend just as much thinking about how to get them to stand. I have always had horses that have come to me at an older age so don’t know much about starting the training process when they are younger. However, I think a big part of the success I have had with my team is based on relationship building. I trust that they will stay put and they trust that I am going to keep them safe while they stand there, even with saws, falling trees, forwarders, and whatever else I subject them to in the woods and fields. This relationship takes time to build, and even the best teams are susceptible to moving or even bolting if they feel threatened or if the teamster does not establish kind but firm expectations for their behavior while at rest. When I am in the woods, I frequently leave them untied to fell or cut brush, move logs on to the bobsled, eat lunch, etc. If they stand still, I leave them be on a slack line, but if they move or creep, we back up to where we started and try again. This is not to say that I have not had runaways, but the two mishaps we had were both teamster errors – my fault!! I think that there are many ways to achieve quiet horses, but the result needs to be a solid and trusting relationship with your animals. A trusting animal is a quiet animal…
-BradDecember 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm #70576Lane LinnenkohlParticipant
Something we do early on when we start working with a horse or team is leave them on the hitching post. All day. Whether you have a job for them that day or not. Give them hay and water, we’re not trying to make them uncomfortable. But we believe this teaches them patience to stand in one place. We’ve not had a single team that was apt to just walk off when on a whoa. I should say, not one that we’d been working with for a while. 😉
Also as Don says, look for opportunities for them to stand still while hitched and working.
Good luck!December 14, 2011 at 3:34 pm #70574Carl RussellModerator
The only trick I can think of is to get a clear understanding of what you are actually expecting from them, then to be consistent in your leadership.
CarlJanuary 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm #70575Carl RussellModerator
Here is a picture of the Troy, NY Farmer’s Market from 1910. These horses would arrive about 5 am, and stand until 11 am. Good way to do business.January 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm #70582Ed ThayerParticipant
Great Photo, Ah, the old days.January 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm #70581Robert MoonShadowParticipant
My donkeys would happily stand there for 6 hours…there’s lots of good things to eat, there! :pJanuary 18, 2012 at 3:19 pm #70584blue80Participant
I have found it useful to utilize round pen/natural horsemanship techniques in the quest for the horses to stand. As far as natural horsemanship, I guess I would say I use a mix of natural horsemanship, with no set rules for any given animal. If I had to explain myself, I would say I use a mix of Doc Hammill (gentle, time consuming) Parelli (understanding the needs and psychology of a horse) and Clinton Anderson (loosen up the animal, train them quickly and get them to work)
This natural horsemanship is fundamental for our work horses, because it deals with the fear response a horse/mule has to stimuli, which often happens while the team is at rest. One horse moves, the other horse catches up, the implement is rollling with no line pressure, an voila, interesting stories result….
So before the time the animal is even in harness, they have learned that “whoaa” is a command given when they are at rest, without pressure; this differs from the “whoaa” command given while inflicting pain/pressure on the animals mouth.
For one team, we had a round pen climber, natural horsemanship was not working, and so we used a humane and carefully instituted running w with great results.
When the animal is in harness, I hitch a little loose. When we stop, the lines are wrapped/tied loosely to a piece of equipment, with slight tension. The team will inch back up in the harness to get out of the tension, giving a small amount of slack in the tugs.
If they move their head to scratch, they get pressure. If they move forward, they get pressure, without the implement moving behind them. I can be 20 steps away, and when I see a leg move, I bark “whoaa!” They feel pressure on their mouth, and return to zero position. It gets inside their head that I can control them from many steps away. Horses have to be loose to respond to pressure, instead of react against it, which is why I see flexion as a key training tool.
I have found that working the horses hard, and letting them enjoy a long rest is great. I don’t have time to sit and look at the sky. Usually my implements have buckets and fencing materials or hoof trimmers on them, so when we stop to rest I can do some alternate work and stretch my legs. To allow me to do this during the learning curve of a team, I have also attached the ends of the lines with a conway buckle, and snap on a piece of rope 30 ft. behind the implement. If they do get start to move, I can get to the rope. I also used to set a boat anchor in the ground, but now I just hitch a little looser and set the lines technically as mentioned earlier….
Its not foolproof, and I never trust them, but this is what I ‘ve come up with so far. I’m sure some methods will change over time….
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