Bekah brought up a good point. What is a matched team? size? breed? task? I really like the best horses for the task at hand, the big greys on the log arch, the black mares on the mower, the big black mare with the little grey mare on the cultivator, the two big grey geldings that look and go alike at the Fair’s farm horse show. For me it really depends on the task, I certainly don’t want mechanical perfection, I just want us to do a job well and in a manner that we can all find comfortable. Comfort in doing a job can lead to a job well done, or at least an honest attempt when the forward horse is not distracting the rest of us.

I played around some this summer with different horses (6 to choose from) to get the right team matched to the right tasks. We have 3 mares and 3 geldings. Usually we plow with 3 on a sulky plow, Sam will take the geldings because one is the “forward” type above that kind of takes over the entire hitch whether he is with one other horse or seven. I generally take the 3 mares, they are more easy going and my hands will last until we are all tired and ready to quit for the day. One day I suggested that Sam give me the slow gelding and I would trade him the fast mare. I used one gelding and 2 mares for the nicest most enjoyable evening plowing, no one was in a rush, light on the lines, everyone eased into the load and stopped for rocks (though they all do that), and that combo had never been used on the farm before. Their attitudes matched each other and the work at hand and they were calm and comfortable and so was I. Below is a photo of our calm, relaxed and comfortable team and the work that we accomplished.

Carl, I found the Les Barden literature about reins, so I am attaching it here 🙂

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