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11/08/08 - Uniontown, OH - You never know what a new day is going to bring on the wagon. I awoke to a cool morning.  The nice Indian Summer weíve been having for the past few days is now a distant memory.  As soon as it was light enough, I grained the horses and started packing up.  When I went to get them out of their large pasture, Doc had them all riled up in his ďwild horse herdĒ mode.  I let them run around a bit, then started pulling the mares out of the pasture.  Once he realized he was going to be alone, Doc walked right up to me.

A bunch of the volunteers at the center showed up to watch me hitch the horses.  One of the girls was kind enough to take pictures, so I included a little pictorial of hitching the team at the end of this blog.  After we hitched the whole crew (about 8) hopped on the wagon for the drive up to the front of the barn. It was great being at the Pegasus center and they were perfect hosts.

About an hour an a half into the morning drive, I pulled over to rest the team after we had driven through the town of Hartville. At that time I noticed we had a flat tire.  A passerby, helped me get some air into the tire and I took off at a good clip to find a place where I could get some new tires. The bias-ply tires I started the trip with werenít cutting the mustard, so I needed to replace them with 6-ply truck tires.  Sandy, a good Samaritan came to the rescue and led me to a service station about a mile away. They didnít have the tires, but Sandy volunteered to go to Sears and pick them up.  By the time we got them mounted and on the wagon it was about 4 pm. With less then an hour to go before it was dark, Sandy led me 3 miles down the road to an RV park, owned by her friend Mert.  The horses and I are set up real good!

We only did about 7 miles today, but weíve got four brand new tires and a whole bunch of new friends.  I call this pretty good day.

The internet connection was lousy last night, so the blog didnít post that well.  Iíll try reloading the whole sight tonight.

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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.

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