Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forum › The Front Porch › Off Topic Discussion › Riding your Draft
- September 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm #80946
How many of you ride your draft? Is it a poor practice?
I jumped on the back of Oz tonight bareback with a lead rope as a set of lines. Second time in the 5 yrs I have had him. He seemed very comfortable with it and I rather enjoyed it.
I thought it might be useful during the upcoming Moose season, ride in and drag out.
EdSeptember 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm #80951
In college we trained a lot of drafts to drive, they all left for home having had someone on their back and riding around. After 4 weeks of being in a heavy harness none of them had a problem with a saddle or riding. Drafts are so tolerant and versatile that it just seems natural that they accept us riding them also. I even know a few that could not be driven, but were fine to ride.
I hopped on one of the black mares last week. We were working the horses to get ready for the fair. Sam took one in the cart and since we only have one cart, I grabbed riding reins and a saddle pad and followed him down the road with the other mare and into a hay field. She was good for me, she did get a little silly when she lost sight of her sister for a moment, but as in cart she was very light in hand and responded well to voice, my legs meant nothing to her. After a little while Sam asked how she was going for her first time ever being ridden. I figured it had just been a while, she sure had me fooled.
Drafts make fine mounts if you are willing to put the time in to make them that way.September 4, 2013 at 4:23 am #80952
I have never been a horse rider…. I am much more comfortable on my feet…. So have never taken the time to refine the use of mine as mounts, but when I have decided to climb on, they have always been accommodating with little or no previous training.
Similar to your thought Ed, I have ridden my skid horse up a steep slope after about the tenth trip up on foot, then hitched him and driven back down with a log. I see no reason why that wouldn’t work while moose hunting. You may want to carry the whiffle-tree while riding though….
CarlSeptember 4, 2013 at 5:22 am #80953
Knowing nothing about hunting and riding my animals less than Carl, just proves I like to see my own words in print! I would think the hardest part of the hunt would be training an animal to gun fire if that was part of the plan and loading / working around fresh carcasses. With out knowing for sure I would expect some horses to react to these things. DSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:19 am #80956
“How many of you ride your draft? Is it a poor practice?”
On the contrary, I think it is good practice and increases the versatility of our horses. I don’t know how to ride a horse properly. I am told (by my daughter who is an avid rider) that my position is poor and I don’t know how to post correctly.
That doesn’t stop me from riding my horses almost daily. If I have to lead them more than 500′, I will ride one and “pony” the other three. With just a halter and lead rope, I have very little physical control over the horses. It is a very different dynamic than leading them “on the ground” where my physical proximity is more apparent to them. I rely purely on my “presence” as a leader when ponying with very limited aids to correct bad behavior. Sometimes they will challenge and test me by pulling hard on their halters or surging ahead. If this persists (rare now a days) , I will have to hop of and “correct” them (#@$% with a yank or two on the halters), remount, and continue. In the early days, I went as far as tying up three horses and bringing a particularly bad culprit (my dominant gelding) through a series of lunging exercises before remounting.
I enjoy riding/ponying them a lot. It is fun and much faster than leading as I can trot. It also in a new challenge for all as I ride a different horses each day and we go over varied terrain. It is like driving 4 abreast on horseback with no bridles or bits. I have had one close call when they almost got away from me. This spring we walked over a piece of submerged sheet metal. Clang, clang, clang – all 4 horses and they bolted. By some miracle, I stayed on and stopped them within 50′ or so.
I also ride my horse to and from the woods while logging single. This time of year, I will hop on a horse and ride out to the woods to mark trees for fall and winter logging. Although I usually ride a bike, I will sometimes ride out to pasture with a horse to collect my goats with the help of my herding dogs (goatboy?).
GeorgeSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:24 pm #80961
My daughter and I ride both our drafts. She rides comfortably bareback, but I am not a skilled rider so I keep it to a walk. I also have two riding pads with stirrups – essentially a cheap saddle alternative but with a simple bridle makes the ride more comfortable and safer for me. I have ridden them up to scout woodlots and some just for fun as well; I think it helps build relationship and trust.
-BradSeptember 4, 2013 at 7:19 pm #80963
Thanks for the replies, my daughter is very well versed on riding but is now off in college so I am left to figure it out for myself. I was impressed with how calm he was while riding him. I used the exact same commands and line pressure as if I were driving him and he was fine.
Don, regarding moose season, I have had several requests to remove Downed Moose from remote locations with draft power. We do not hunt from their backs, simply retrieve the quarry when harvested. It can be very profitable when there is no other alternative to get the beasts out of the woods other than packing out on ones back. Some horses are sensitive to dead critters, mine does not seem to be bothered by them.
Do you find the nearest stump to help jump on their backs? I had to use my daughters step she used while showing horses.
Where do you get the riding pads with stirrups? That would work great while carrying a whiffle tree along with us.
EdSeptember 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm #80964
I don’t like to say anything that directly contradicts what someone else has said but in this case I have to pipe up. The riding pad with stirrups is a recipe for disaster. If you put more weight in one stirrup than in the other, the pad spins ’round their barrel and down you go – usually with your foot still in the stirrup. I have seen so many people get hurt this way with a bareback pad with stirrups.September 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm #80966
If there was a way to incorporate/integrate/secure it to the harness, then it could be made safer.
I ride mine pretty often. I have a bareback pad that I like a lot. I herniated a disc very badly a few months ago and haven’t been able to lift my heavy western saddles. I have found that riding for an hour each morning is very therapeutic to my injured back and makes the rest of the day much more comfortable. The bareback pad helps keep the horse’s sweat from soaking through my pants, cushions them from the rivets in my jeans, and provides a bit of grip to help me stay aboard – yet only weighs about 5 pounds.
I have ridden my horses while they are in harness but I find it uncomfortable, since the back pad of the harness sits right where I want to sit. I would like to make a saddle and harness to ride postillion. I have a substantial collection of illustrations and drawings of such harnesses from carriage and cavalry use, to guide my design. It’s on my extensive “someday” list.September 4, 2013 at 8:02 pm #80967
In artillery situations there is often no britchen involved. This greatly simplifies matters. Put on saddle. Put on collar and traces. Run like blazes. Try not to fall off.September 4, 2013 at 10:30 pm #80969
I agree with the bareback pads with stirrups they are no substitute for a saddle and can be dangerous if a tipsy rider tries to rely on them as if it were a saddle, they can also be used with no issue by some, but beware of the slippage factor. I have a felt pad for a western saddle that I ride on, if I go faster than a walk it tends to slip back some, but that is not very often. I also use it under the harness if I am riding to the woodlot or such. It helps cushion things and like grey said, keeps the sweat transfer to a minimum.September 5, 2013 at 5:43 am #80970
I agree about riding with the harness on, but that is pretty much the only time I ever ride. It can get a bit uncomfortable, especially if you (Ed) are going to ride a few miles up a mountain skid road… so maybe a combo of a pad for your butt on top of the harness might work….. you can get pretty good foot-holds out of front traces for riding too… certainly not stirrups but adequate to keep you from falling off. I have ridden for a half an hour on a harness jack saddle without too much discomfort, but it has no hardware on top, and I was just at a leisurely walk.
For practice riding you will probably want to use the steps, but with a harness on you can usually find a toe-hold on a front trace or hold back. I grab the hames, put a foot in the loop where my hold-back hangs from the hame ring, up hoist myself up. I hang the whiffle-tree from the hames too.
I like the idea, and have been asked several times to be on call for moose hunters, but yet to actually go after one. I had also thought some about a simple stoneboat head, or a go-devil set-up that could be used to get under the rack to make dragging easier. A small tree-climbers chainsaw would also come in handy…… I was never sure that a moose would come down right on a good skid road…..
Good luck, CarlSeptember 8, 2013 at 7:24 am #81010
I found riding to be very helpful these past two years for training our young team. Having only experience with driving and no proper riding technique, I approached it as if I were driving them. Using the same commands as if I was driving..clear voice commands followed by light pressure on the bit to get the message across. I first mounted them in the round pen at 18 months old to gain their trust and confidence. Since we didn’t have a harness that fit them until they turned 3 this past spring, I found myself riding them for training purposes more often than driving. We would sometimes borrow a harness for a day or two during this period to do some ground driving work, but otherwise we only owned a custom fit bridle that we had made when they were one, with plenty of adjustment for growth. Also in the midst of all the farm work that must get done, I found that when I had time for training sessions it was often spur of the moment and the quickest and easiest thing to do was grab the bridle and jump on. For instance this spring during some plowing and field prep, I had spent the morning opening sod with the older mares and had a clean furrow running. I wanted to introduce the youngsters to the furrow and since time is always limited in the spring I bridled and rode each youngster, individually, down the the field to walk the furrow during an hour long lunch break. They had never seen the furrow before this and the next day when I hitched one of them with an older mare to have a plowing lesson, he walked the furrow like and old pro and there was no issue at all with this new task. I simply couldn’t have found time to harness him, drive him down, drive the furrows, and then go back and get the mares and still get all the plowing done that day before the rains came again.
It may have helped that I have very little confidence as a rider and so would never allow the horse more than a walk. The working pace I wanted them to get used to.
I still use this to introduce them to new equipment sometimes if Annalisa or Chuck are driving the older mares, I can ride along and slowly approach to carefully introduce the sounds and motions of a new tool, then ride back to the stable and have him un-haltered and back out to pasture in a few minutes leaving me to move on with the work day having accomplished a quick and meaningful lesson. Having the older mares to help and these simple training lessons makes the stress of a new job so much less for these young inexperienced horses.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.September 15, 2013 at 8:20 am #81152
My father in-law loves to tell the story about when he was a kid the hill next to his house was logged by a guy with two team of horses. The logger would send the teams out to the landing on their own where my father in-law would unhook the logs and ride the team back in to the woods, then run down the hill again and fish in the nearby brook for a couple minutes before the next hitch came out. He says he would climb up on them using the log pile as a step stool and ride while they were in full harness. The thing that makes this impressive is he only has one leg. The other was lost in a manure spreader when he was 8.September 19, 2013 at 2:35 pm #81175
If we just practice some of these moves Ed we won’t need anything to use as a mounting block or log pile 🙂
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