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Projects & Horse-breaking

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The Wagonteamster Channel has itís first video production - Journey To the Valley Of the Wild Horses

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7/7/13, Valley Falls, OR - In the five weeks since my last posting Iíve had a nice mixture of work and pleasure.  Fishing, hiking, horseback rides and driving the wagon are all weekly activities. When weíre not galavanting around the Oregon Outback, Iíve had several projects to keep me occupied.  A few of which are shown below.

August 23 - 25, I would like to sponsor a free, three day long draft-horse driving clinic to anyone that might be interested. I donít have the exact syllabus yet, but events will include as a minimum: harnessing, ground driving and driving a wagon. If someone brings a green team of horses, I would be more than happy to include horse training in the activities.  Everything is free except for the food (Iím asking for donations with that).  We have a small RV park with free hookups available to those that bring campers. So everyone gets an opportunity to work with the horses, Iím limiting the number of attendees to 12 to 15 people.  Please RSVP at bob@wagonteamster.com. Experienced teamsters and horses are also welcome.

Hereís a taste or what Iíve been up to in the past month.

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The barn I built last year, now sporting a fresh coat of paint.

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I liked the barn for the draft horses so much, I built a smaller one for the llamas and mini-horses as well.

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Of course the mangers on the new barn arenít nearly as tall as the ones in the draft horse barn.

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The first of many rock planters I plan on building around the place.

These are just a few of the many projects that have kept me busy.

When we go on horseback rides, Jacquie has a hard time getting up on my eighteen hand high horses. To solve the problem, we started looking around for a saddle horse.  I couldnít find anything good for a descent price, so I jumped at the chance to pickup a nice ďunbrokenĒ horse for free.  A friend of ours had a half dozen horses that have been running out on the range since his wife passed away, several years ago.  Among them was a nice looking 15 hand gelding.

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ďMontyĒ is seven years old and has had virtually no human contact. Heís not halter broke, never been in a trailer or had more than a passing touch of a human hand. By baiting him with some alfalfa hay, I managed to trap him in my round pen, which I previously set up on my friendís property.

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This is the first time I have attempted to break a horse with so little previous human contact. While working him was not as hard as working a mustang, it was still much more difficult than working with a horse that has been halter broke and had some human contact. On our first session in the round pen, it took him 2 1/2 hours to finally Join-up (and that was a very timid join-up).

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This is Monty joining up after his third round pen session.  He has his ears back like an ďunsureĒ young colt, but heís allowing me to pet his forehead and neck.

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This is my first, aborted attempt at getting a rope on him for ďdesensitizingĒ training. I found him to be a lot quicker than a draft horse.  For Plan B, I used a lasso that has a fairly rigid loop. This option also failed. When I tried to rope him on the run, I found he could see the lasso coming and dodge out of the way. Hmm, I guess itís time for Plan C!

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My third option was to slowly desensitize him to inanimate objects.  After letting him smell things and slowly rub him with them, I found he was starting to come around.

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But, it was the magic touch of a brush that finally won him over.  After 20 minutes of brushing, I managed to get a horse blanket on his back.  From there, it was only a few minutes work to get a lead rope across his back, then start scooting it forward until it was across his neck.

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With the lead rope I made an impromptu halter and started leading him around the pen.  Having already been through the round pen join-up sessions, he readily accepted me as a lead horse and followed my lead.

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After the lead rope halter, a real one wasnít a problem.

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Before we moved on to other things, I needed to complete desensitizing him.  After placing a rope around his neck, I ran him around in the pen for several minutes, making the rope loop over his back and around his hindquarters.

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When he joined-up from this session, I pulled the rope over all the places I couldnít reach when he was running around.

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After the rope work, the saddle and girth were easy - he took them without batting an eyelash. Before ending the lessons for the day, I led him around while Jacquie drove him from behind with a set of lines fixed to his halter.

The next lesson will be with a bridle and and set of driving lines going to the bit.

In two days, Iíll have a horse trailer available, with which I can haul him home.  In about a week or so, he should be green broke to ride.  Then, itís just a matter of a few weeks to turn him into a good riding horse.