Hitching the Team
While theyíre tied to the four rings on the left side of the wagon, I connect the cross-lines to their bridles, then bring the driving lines back from the hames rings to the britchen.
1. The first step is to drive the wheel team (Deedee and Joyce) up to their position at the tongue. They pretty much walk into place without me driving them.
2. Then I connect the neck yoke to the chest strap on each of the horses.
3. The next step is to attach the heel chains to the evener. After I do this, I back the horses up half a step and wrap the lines around a pair of cleats I have on the front of the wagon. Then if they want to move, theyíll have to pull the wagon (with the brakes set) with their mouths.
4. With the wheelers in place, I go get Dolly and Doc and drive them up to the Lead position. I then have to back them up two or three steps to get them into position to hook up their heel chains to the front evener. To make sure they back up straight, I place the driving lines on the outside of their hips. Then I can swing their butts into the exact position I need them.
5. I make sure I keep the lines in my hands when I hook up their heel chains.
The trickiest part is not shown in the pictures. I have to step in between the neck yoke for the wheelers and the evener for the lead team to put the lead teamís lines in line spacers on the bridle and top hames rings of the wheelers. This keeps the lines for the leaders from getting tangled. Most teamsters thread the lines through rings. To reduce the time Iím exposed in this precarious position, I clip them into caribiners instead. If either team moves when Iím in this position, I could get sawn in half (ouch)!
I then bring the leaderís lines back to the front of the wagon, take a seat, sort the lines, release the brakes and Iím ready to go.
All this takes about 5 minutes with a little practice and a quiet team.