Workshop Feruary 5-7, 2010

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Workshop Feruary 5-7, 2010

Post  Gery Barker on Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:29 am

I had said I would post the notes from the Workshop held at our place in Edmonton, KY February 5 through 7, 2010:

Teamster Training

Who we are: Wagoners and what this means.
In Living History, portraying a lower class person of the past is the most difficult task because it is so different from what we know and are used to.
On top of the Living History requirements, we actually have a job to do. We really do command large animals and move loads. That is not play, that is real.
What we intend to accomplish:
Teach you enough of the language that you can communicate -
Nomenclature
Teach you basic large animal safety.
Teach you the basics of large animal care.
Teach you how to drive both horses and oxen.
Teach you about some of the wagons you will encounter.
How this fits in.

Some things are going to be recurrent. I will pound on them throughout the weekend.
1. Safety requires constant attention.
2. We are putting our animals at risk by taking them on our adventures. It is not their choice. We have to minimize this risk (and the risk to the people around them).
3. The best relationships and most control you will have of animals requires that the animals “trust” you.
4. People are stupid. We have to protect our animals from people.
5. Do not reinforce the basic animal fears. (Don’t punish an animal for being afraid.)
6. Menno Simon, the founder of the Mennonites and Amish said, “Question everything, especially me.”

Duties of the wagoner and his helper: A look at the duties of both and how they interface.

Animal and wagon safety: An overall picture of safety around draft animals and wagons, not only for the participants, but also what is expected of others when they come to help during the event.


Wagon and Animal Safety:

Animals:

Never trust an animal, no matter how well trained or gentle it has been.

Keep the animal healthy and well cared for, this includes shoes.

Do not leave animals unattended, even when tied.

Tie animals with a quick release knot.

Do not walk behind a strange animal. If you must be behind an animal to work, make physical contact with the animal.

Fear is natural in animals. Do not try to control fear with discipline.

Watch the animals and if they need to be removed from the action, get them to safety. If you do have to remove them, think of having a companion animal with them.

Do not allow public to approach an animal without either the driver or his assistant with them.

Never work a team in public alone.

Be prepared to head animal immediately if needed. Heading means to stand by the head of a horse, mule or ox to calm them down or control them. The header may have to hold on to the halter or lines (reins). Rubbing one of the comforting zones may help to calm a fearful animal. (On horses and mules: Withers, face. Oxen: Shoulder.)

Have a sharp knife on you if you are working large animals.

Freeing a tangled animal is dangerous. There are safe ways to do this.
1. Identify yourself to the animal.
2. Give the animal its “I am safe signal.”
A. Do not make eye contact.
B. If the animal seems afraid look back over your shoulder.
C. Talk to it reassuringly.
3. Stay out of the way of hooves and horns.
4. Untie and unclip if you can, if you cannot cut the offending rope, lead, harness or whatever. Animal handlers must always have a sharp knife on them for just this reason.

Wagons:
Never put yourself in front of or behind a wheel while a team is hitched to the wagon.

Never allow anyone to be between the wheels of a wagon.

Do not put a foot or hand in the spokes.

Keep the wagon and harness (yoke) in good repair.

Do not ride the tongue.

Animal care, feeding and grooming: Hands on work with the animals getting them ready for work.

Hoof care/cleaning: An in depth look at hoof and leg care based on past experience in off road work with draft animals.

Injuries: Detecting and treating minor injuries.


Knowing the Animals:

Horses and Mules:
Things you want to see:
Ears up, alert and swiveling. Possibly one of the best signs is one ear on the driver the other searching.
Head alert.
Smooth comfortable movement.
Tail slightly elevated.
Deep sigh.
Horses laying down to sleep.
Eating and drinking normally.

Things you don’t want to see:
Ears lopped.
Tail tucked.
Back roached.
Tail whipping back and forth.
Intent stare at you with ears folded back.
Head bobbing.
Sleeping standing.
Hollow in front of the hip bone.


Oxen:
Things you want to see:
Cud chewing.
Ears forward.
Ears back turned outward.
Raising head to driver’s approach.
Tail slightly elevated.
Eating and drinking normally.

Things you don’t want to see:
Ears going up and down.
Staring at you with head lowered ears forward.
Shaking horns.
Pawing earth.
Tail tucked.
Back roached.
Standing to sleep.
Not eating.
Hollow in front of the hip bone.

The animal eye.
1. Distance vision means safety to them.
A. Oxen: Best long distance vision because they are slow, and need time to get the herd to safety.
B. Horses and mules: Still better than ours.
2. Sacrifice colour vision at the blue/green end of the spectrum for night vision. In other words, they see better than us in the dark. Also, reds, oranges and yellows will seem more brilliant (maybe scary) to them.
3. See movement very well.
4. Can see almost 340o around them.
5. Do not have depth perception throughout the entire circle of their vision.
6. Can only focus for depth perception in a narrow zone in front of their faces.
7. What this means to us as animal handlers:
A. We have to be aware of dangers at long distances that may spook our animals.
B. We have to be aware of colour sensitivity, i.e. orange cones.
C. We can trust their night vision more than ours.
D. We use movement to move animals.
E. Animals cannot see the depth of a puddle or creek without lowering their heads to focus.

The animals we work with have tremendous memories:
1. They may not remember “gee” and “haw” but they remember incidents and locations.
2. They remember kindness and injuries.
3. They remember being fearful at a specific place or type of place.
4. Do not reinforce animal fear.

Things to be aware of:
Animals (horses, mules and oxen) pick up on our emotions. They read our body language. If the driver is afraid, they become afraid. If you’re excited, they’re excited. If the driver is confused, they become confused. You must always be calm for your animals.
Don’t put an animal where it cannot get away from a more dominant animal.
Check fecal matter every morning!
You cannot leave tethered animals unwatched
No one working on the wagon should allow an animal to do something deliberately wrong.
Inflicting pain on the animal may be counterproductive.
All of these are herd animals. Being alone is threatening to them. Try to provide a companion animal if possible.

How to tell an animal, politely, that you are dominant:
1. Cattle (specifically): Drop your head.
2. Horses and mules: Blow straight at the ground, touch on the neck.
3. With all animals, do not make eye contact unless you want to be threatening.
4. With all animals, make them move.

How to catch an animal in the pasture:
1. Do not walk directly at the animal. Half circle.
2. Do not make eye contact.
3. Signal that you are safe by looking away (over your shoulder or down and to one side) any time the animal seems afraid or ready to move.
4. Do not lose your temper or punish the animal when it has been caught.

Harnessing: Fitting and use of common harnesses. Hands on getting horses and mules harnessed for work.
Inspect harness and especially lines daily.
If an upper hames strap breaks, you can have a fatal accident.

Yoking: Fitting and use of yokes. Yoke up a team of oxen.

Wagons: Introduction to common wagons and wagon maintenance.
The tools of wagoning.
Brakes.
Greasing wheels.


Driving training: Ground driving teams of oxen and horses.

Practical work driving teams on wagons.
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Gery Barker

Posts : 24
Join date : 2009-04-08
Age : 73
Location : Edmonton, KY

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Workshop Recap

Post  Gery Barker on Mon Feb 08, 2010 11:45 am

Just a brief Recap. I think a lot of ideas were exchanged during the workshop. Certainly many of the problems that will face us on the Campaign were discussed. The emphasis was on hands on experience with a team of horses and one of oxen. Participants helped harness, and yoke the animals and I believe that almost everyone drove the teams both ground driving and with a wagon or sledge in tow.

We tried to create some of the problems that would be encountered on the Campaign, with varying success. The weather was a problem and I fear that some of us were uncomfortable, especially standing around. We still cannot predict a Kentucky winter.

I fear one misconception. I wish the oxen could have given some idea why oxen are considered stubborn and unruly. The Four Kings are used almost every day, just in normal farm work. They don't react like teams that get used once or twice a week.

I would like to thank everyone that came and especially Nathan (aWagonMaster), Maria for her role in support, the ladies that provided the foods, and Jake, the permanent "go fer". - Gery
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Gery Barker

Posts : 24
Join date : 2009-04-08
Age : 73
Location : Edmonton, KY

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