Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Market Place › Buy/Sell Livestock › Thinking about looking for a new team…
Tagged: team for sale
- January 15, 2015 at 6:01 pm #84591
Good comment mlegr,
Back in the day there was a horse dealer in North Stratford, NH who sold work horses with the provision that if the horse didn’t work out you could bring it back and take another one at no charge. This dealer was a big part of the infrastructure supporting draft horse users back then.
I would much rather buy a replacement horse this way than either go to an auction, or play the typical private sale game. Truth be told, I’ve been screwed six ways to Sunday in private sales even though I actually know a little bit about horses.
If Carl or DAPNET or whatever wanted to sell recycled problem horses this way, I would be very interested, and I believe a number of others who don’t have the time or wherewithal to drive to Waverly or whatever would be interested as well.
I know Carl is talking only about solving his individual replacement horse needs, but maybe this is an area where Carl’s expertise and DAPNET’S connections could take a leap forward in helping restore a viable piece of infrastructure for the horsepowered community.January 15, 2015 at 7:25 pm #84595
Your original post seemed to be asking for actual horses, not just ideas about horses. You might find more horses in that sort of condition through a horse rescue group? In my part of NY there were a lot of ads for horses at the beginning of winter as people started thinking about how much hay they needed to get.January 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm #84596
I’m all for horse rescue but definitely not for rescue horses.
Over the years we have boarded three rescues. One put its owner in the hospital with serious injuries. Another kicked the Vet. The third wouldn’t trailer, and when the owner built her own barn in a neighboring town, she wound up leading the horse 17 miles to its new home.
These weren’t “bad” horses. They just needed someone like Carl or my daughter who could read them and restore their confidence and dignity.
What I’m proposing is that we need horses ready to work for the teamster of average skills who does not have the time, interest, or ability to devote to significant retraining challenges. If we ever reestablish a large draft-powered community where horses play a critical day-to-day role, we will needs lots of these horses ready to go upon purchase.January 15, 2015 at 10:50 pm #84599
This thread has gotten me thinking about the supply of draft horses in the northeast, and where they are coming from. I absolutely agree with Rick that within the community, there is a need for someone like Carl to rehabilitate the juvenial delinquents. But I am also wondering about the role of breeder, and how that fits into the community. Because if the folks who make their livings with horses can’t afford to pay for them, then who is going to breed new horses for them?
I’ve heard a lot of folks disparage the tall leggy carriage horse build, but if the carriage folks are the only ones who buy “new” and the farmers and loggers all want to buy “used,” then who is going to breed nice chunks for us?
But this is getting pretty far from Carl’s initial post . . .January 16, 2015 at 6:31 am #84600
No Tevis, that is at the heart of it. I am not going to rehabilitate enough horses to make a dent, but I think we all can. I also think we can create pressure on the industry, but I think we have to adopt a slightly different mind-set.
Horse power was at its heyday at the turn of the last century. Horse came a dime a dozen on boxcars. Cattle were taken from the field as grown steers and put in the woods. There were no doubt breeders who provided top of the line animals, but they focused on conformation, and carriage, soundness, and application of body types for work.
During that period, even urban folks were familiar with the working horse. No one was going into a horse market looking for turn-key animals…. And even if they existed, there was less emphasis on that value because everyone who worked animals knew how to build the animal they needed for the tasks they needed to accomplish. We’ve all heard horror stories, so we know that not all were good careful animal husbands, but I don’t think that “training” really had a market value then.
My post, like most, has many layers. You all have hit on them. I’m sure there are a few still to be shown, even to me. Though I am looking for horses, and I am aware of the rescue, I wouldn’t need to post anything here, other than he fact that I wanted to stimulate a discussion among the community.
I truly do not believe that “training” actually sticks to horseflesh. Basic groundwork to introduce an animal into trusting relationship with human leaders, the development of awareness of guidance communication, and exposure to human intention and all of the accoutrements (harness, equipment, etc), make up the primary value that all animals should come with. Beyond that,,it comes down to the operator. You can spend $6000 for a team of horses today that could go to hell in inexperienced hands, so why would I (presumably with quite experienced hands) pay that much for the same team? Clearly I cannot buy whatever the previous teamster had in common with those horses. I must bring that with me.
Among the many points I am trying to make is that as we regain our sustainable community of draft animal practitioners, we also need to regain the culture. Right now we are working within a modern perspective of commerce, where the buyer looks to buy as many attributes as their money will allow. That may work with computers, washing machines, and automobiles, but it doesn’t apply to animals (nor seeds, or land for that matter).
It really is not enough to hitch animals into working situations, we should be seriously considering how our work elevates the craft. We are doing that for sure, but putting onus on breeders and sellers to format the animals appropriately will not be as effective as enlightening our peers to the responsibilities of effective horsemanship. I have a dear friend who has been in search of the perfect team for a decade, and remains horseless today. The perfect team comes out of your heart, mind, and hands.
I am in search of youthful vigor. Maybe because I’m starting to ache in ways that I have been pretending would not happen….. But more likely because I explode inside when I feel the connection developing that allows me to guide a wholey separate creature into my mind’s eye, and funnel their energy into my endeavors. I am in search of another opportunity to share with my community how we can separate the communication from the training/conditioning. I am in search of a culture that recognizes that a horse doesn’t want to pick up its foot, or stand, and should want to run away from us, and that horses that end up living an unproductive life because of those tendencies are not the ones at fault.
Anyway, I have had some interesting offers since I posted this here and on FB. One includes the offer of a gift of a valuable horse that could be used to trade to another for a young pair of purebreds from a renowned breed of work horse. The search continues.
Please continue to contribute to this discussion.
CarlJanuary 16, 2015 at 10:32 am #84601
The average person isn’t for rescue horses, or else there wouldn’t be any. Who would turn down desirable and free? I was specifically mentioning it for Carl who was looking for a cheap problem horse.
If the culture expands some, there could be some profit in someone like Carl adopting problem horses and training them to sell after they have some experience. Now as he’s pointed out a good pair at the time of sale doesn’t stay a good pair under bad leadership, but it does smooth the transition for someone learning or of minimal skill to start with horses that know what to expect of a good leader, avoiding the green + green issue.January 16, 2015 at 5:46 pm #84607
There is a pen at the sale barn in Mt. Hope, Ohio full of horses with no halters. Those are the horses that, for no other reason, didn’t fit the bill that day. they go for around $150. off to the killers. After the fact, you can always walk down to the pen and pair up odd horses and wonder if they would have made a team for three hundred bucks but it’s the pen of last resort. You’d have to be quick, but any of us could sneak in another fifty dollar bid and take home an inexpensive horse or two. Donnie webb bought five or six yearling colts for less than $1000 one time out there. Brought them home and worked with them, but pairing them up with each other and then pairing them up with people proved a hard battle. Maybe times have changed and there is a stronger market up here. Certainly with all the new teamsters as well as two relatively new amish communities here in central maine, the critical mass is strong enough to support another “hoss trader”. Great challenge, rewarding and fun time bringing along a new horse. I had an older mare that did it for me. Hook a zebra in beside that horses and at the end of the day you had a stripped draft.January 16, 2015 at 7:24 pm #84609
Have any of you read James Howard Kunstler’s World Made by Hand series? It’s a post-peak oil vision of the future set in the upper Hudson Valley. People have returned to drafts for farm and forest work entirely and horses can’t be bred and trained fast enough to keep up with the demand, even after several epidemics wipe out huge portions of the human population. In that world, even problem horses would fetch a pretty penny, not to mention Russell-trained logging teams.
Of course, the monetary system is no longer functioning so prices are set mainly in silver coin.
I recommend these books though they could definitely do with more content about driving horses 🙂January 16, 2015 at 9:54 pm #84623
OK well when any one is really interested, I know where we can find a large herd of young Belgians grazing free range in eastern Oregon. Bred for working. They would go cheap, wear a halter after a fashion and probably even load on a trailer… Just sayin’…
Also, Daniel, yes… that is why my homestead is literally on a gold mine and I like mares.January 17, 2015 at 8:05 am #84624
Mark, You wanted a “hot stove” topic. I think you sure got one. I see something to be balanced here. The need for good quality animals for beginning farmers on the one hand, and on the other a need to develop these beginning farmers so they will be able capitalize on good horses.
As much as I enjoy training / working with young or green horses, I enjoy working with beginning teamsters more. A good well broke team in the hands of someone that doesn’t appreciate what horses are or what they need from people, may not be good very long. A green horse or team with no training or experience, can mess up a well intentioned green teamster in a hurry. Both these situations lead me to want to help folks understand horses and mules.
I am looking forward to selling some good mares in the future, but the mules need to grow first.January 17, 2015 at 10:29 am #84625
So, I know I will find a solution that works for me. Donn has, and the rest of us too. Do we all just continue to work this out individually, or do we actually make some community effort to use resources like Mitch and Michele describe? I don’t know, I just throw that out there.
I have full faith in the description of the future that Kunstler shares, but there is also a huge leap of faith and fantasy in there that folks will just pick up the lines. Somehow there is going to have to be an exchange of knowledge, and absorbing, application, and reflection.
I spent some time yesterday with a young novice teamster who is working with some seasoned horses that belong to his mentor, and at the same time working with his own horse that has some issues related to trust and communication. I personally cannot think of a better situation. It is a great way to directly experience the reality that describes his skills versus those of his mentor, and at the same time to experience the differences in the animals’ behavior.
Two experienced teamsters and two novices-in-training standing in the yard of a barn full of tested horses, while one novice demonstrated the challenges he faces. A whole lot of honesty, and a whole lot of responsibility was on the table. In that situation every one of us could see the tenuous nature of our craft. The mentors measuring our words, holding back from taking lines, and accepting just how little information we really can impart.
The truth is I can run off at the mouth pretty well, but at a certain point I could hear myself sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. The other truth is that I am just as perplexed by the behaviors that I observed. They are not my lines to pick up, but in reality I would have to start at ground zero with that horse too, try something, read the result, try again, and so on, so everything I said was basically theoretical.
As Donn suggests, it is a balancing act. Both things must be taken up simultaneously. Most of us have good horses to work so the habits can be practiced, but how much of what we learn comes from practice, and how much really comes from mounting the challenges that pop up unexpectedly. Most novices come to this point one way or the other, basic skills applied to real life situations. Even after nearly 30 years, I face the same reality.
Actually I could make it work financially to go out and buy a seasoned team. The price issue is real, but more important is the fact that I want to push the envelope. I want to challenge myself. I want to build my skills, and keep myself fresh. I want to spend the time to build the horse I want, and I want to set an example of how fluid the craft is.
I am looking to transition to younger horses. This is the right time for me to do it. The first generation of horses stayed here, they are still here on the hill, which is a powerful thing, but I outlived that situation, and plan to go through a few more transitions myself. These transitions are the reality of sustainable use of animals as power. If my seasoned team can be of some use to others when I get a younger team started, then this may be a model that can be useful to the broader community.
Building the fabric of the community within which we can share the mechanics of these transitions with beginners is going to have to be part of it too.
Thank you for being here, CarlJanuary 18, 2015 at 8:52 pm #84640
James Kunstler is one of our customers, it is our community that inspired his books and attitude. I think if you would like to get him to write more about horses Carl will have to send all of the extra offer horses over here and I will get Jim on the lines,
Fun post guys
JaredFebruary 2, 2015 at 12:09 pm #84799
Some mental rambling.
Thinking about what we expect from our horses and what we expect from ourselves as we are working them, in regards giving and taking direction. When I think about that in conjunction with a significant increase in the role of horses providing tractive power in our society, ala a Kunstler scenario, there will necessarily be many more people acting as teamsters. All of these horses and all of these teamsters will exist on a continuum of behavior. Some teamsters will expect more from their well cared for teams and get more out of them. Others less so in all regards. To some extent, on a smaller scale, this situation exists today. And above a certain threshold of safety & humaneness, that variation is not only OK but inevitable. Perhaps OK because it is inevitable.
I agree that the teamster makes the team. Not only in how they give direction (e.g. stop on a slack line or tight one?) but the level of expectation of behavior; e.g. standing w/o shuffling, anticipating and acting on starting before actually being asked, head rubbing, eating while working (all issues I deal with). And temperament figures into it to a huge degree. How much patience does the teamster have? Is their personality “geared” to consistent, repetitive behavior or is it something they have to spend a lot of energy concentrating on? Currently we self select to a certain degree, if one does not have the natural traits to make a decent teamster, or the will to bring them to bear, one probably is not driving. With a significant expansion of the use of horses will this change? One advantage in an expansion scenario is that regardless of approach and personality, horses and teamsters will be getting more consistent use, and that promotes the bond of communication between driver and team that in turn promotes usefulness and production
Again, I find this variation acceptable, particularly viewed through the lens of determining acceptable risk and how that fits into the entire context of any situation. This does not excuse us from continually trying to improve but gives us permission to carry on while acknowledging our imperfection. The leadership in effective horsemanship that is shown by the members of this forum, its existence as a repository of experience and knowledge, both traditional and innovative, and the support it provides for practitioners at all levels, is surely an asset as we move forward into a future we cannot see.
MarkFebruary 2, 2015 at 9:05 pm #84803
“This does not excuse us from continually trying to improve but gives us permission to carry on while acknowledging our imperfection.” Mark, I love this. There is room for so much variety and individuality in this craft. Studying the teamsters can be more interesting than studying the animals. DonnFebruary 3, 2015 at 4:26 pm #84809
donn, I still think its about the animals. without them there is no us (teamster).
and mark, I don’t think the teamster makes the team either. for me, its always about the animals and how I can adapt to create or change what needs. for me, its all about them.
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