Work Horses

Discussion in 'The Duck Hunters Forum' started by Tailfeathers, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Tailfeathers

    Tailfeathers Elite Refuge Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    The Mule thread got me to thinking and remembering a great past experience i was blessed to witness, but it was about work horses, not mules so I decided to start a different thread. Work Horses. Gotta love um.
    A number of years ago I was able to watch a man with his team/pair of work horses pull a mechanically driven hay cutting machine he had from his family’s generations past. He offered this service for farmers and land owners who liked the idea or perhaps the novelty of animal driven machinery working their land. Their payment also supported his overall work to keep the tradition alive in America. He’d walk his team around the field, the machinery clacking away, the hay falling to the side, each stalk snipped and laid to the side , powered by the horses easily walking and doing their work. Easy for me,ha. He’d stop the team now and then, give the horses a breather and squirt some oil onto the blades and mechanism of the machine. It was mesmerizing to watch. So quiet, so at peace. Man, machine and his beasts and the land’s harvested bounty.
    He told me he also used his team to run logs down forested steep hills. His horses did minimal damage to the land, no erosion on those slopes, and that was attractive to landowners. I didn’t get to witness that work, just the haying, but have seen footage of other teams doing that work. It doesn’t take long to learn to appreciate the intelligence , bravery, elegance.....yes elegance , of both man and horse when it comes to the task of pulling heavy logs that try to become defiantly independent down a semi fluid incline like that and insure that no one gets injured. Over and over again, all day long....for years.
    Remarkable Horses....Work Horses.
  2. Rick Hall

    Rick Hall Elite Refuge Member

    Nov 25, 2002
    Klondike, Louisiana
    I'm old enough to have great memories of a grandfather's last working team, Jim and Nell, and subsequently been much more drawn to horse-pulls than tractor events.
  3. Shirleyshusband

    Shirleyshusband Elite Refuge Member

    Nov 16, 2003
    Stitzer, WI
    FIL tells stories about working horses on the farm. He hated em. Upkeep, sometimes ornery.
    After they got their first tractor they never went back.

    We've got lots of Amish here. Real working horses all over the place. Real horse sheet all over the road too.

    I'm no fan of the Amish, not at all, but I'll agree with you that it's kind of throw-back cool to see a six horse hitch pulling a plow.

    See em pulling a disc, standing on a board between the horses and disc. That's one step away from an ugly accident.
  4. pbd

    pbd Senior Refuge Member

    Aug 9, 2012
    I did some summer work on cattle ranches up in Montana and we still use teams as recently as the 70s. I was a complete idiot who didn’t know what he was doing around those horses and one day as we were hooking up a team things went sideways and they ended up rearing up while I was holding the reins.

    Somehow I managed to escape unscathed but I still have nightmares about that dinnerplate sized hoof towering over my head
  5. dawgman

    dawgman Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 24, 2002
    shingle springs
    I saw this in Amish country two weeks ago. It was mesmerizing watching them and thinking how difficult it must have been for my dad, as a youngster in ND, plowing fields with his two horse team.
    Shirleyshusband likes this.
  6. DComeaux

    DComeaux Senior Refuge Member

    Nov 11, 2013
    South Louisiana

    GUNNERX2 Elite Refuge Member

    Jan 14, 2007
    Grampa plowed with a mare and a mule. After discing and planting, he would drag the field with a homemade drag made of lumber (think heavy duty pallet). He would let me and my brother ride the drag for extra weight and it was a wild ride, bouncing all over the place and trying not to fall off. I was 7 when grampa died back in the mid 50s.
    widgeon and Fowler267 like this.
  8. Matt Barnard

    Matt Barnard Elite Refuge Member

    Aug 20, 2004
    South Dakota
    In the blizzard of '67 in NW Ind., our bus driver still hobby farmed with Clydesdales. He drove the bus to his house, unloaded all of us kids, hitched up the team, and took us home on a hay sled. My brother and I were the last ones off. It was 5 miles or so from his house to ours. Those big horses broke through those belly deep drifts like they weren't even there. If that would have been today, they would surely put him in jail. Deviating from the normal route, took the kids off the bus, took them into a private residence, exposed them to extra harsh weather, etc. And however many other charges a crooked lawyer could think of. The bus driver had no children of their own. His wife filled us up with cookies and hot chocolate before we left. We were dressed for it. We were snowed in for 2 weeks. We ran out of food. Another neighbor walked 7 miles to the next town for groceries. My dad was snowed in at the Sinclair refinery in Whiting, 37 miles away. Our furnace broke, and 2 of the neighbors came and got it going. But those horses, they should have been given a medal.
    widgeon likes this.
  9. twall

    twall Senior Refuge Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    I use to go to steam shows and thresherman's reunions with my grandfather. "Younger" people would start to pine about the good old days. My grandfather started farming with a team of mules and was still helping out into the '90's. He would say the good old days were today. He was never nostalgic about sitting behind a team of mules day after day.

  10. Ron Gilmore

    Ron Gilmore Elite Refuge Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    Growing up our neighbor used a team of Belgium draft horses. Daisy and Butch. He taught me how to drive horses pulling a dump rake.

    They used them in the winter to clean barn, pulling a ground driven manure spreader. Herman always said the two hardest machines on a horse where the sickle mower and feed grinder.

    Sickle mower required so much energy and where hard pulls, worse than a plow. Horses would tire and need resting way more. Grinder caused uneven wear and tear on horses body .

    He had the team up into the late 70s and when his health issues arose I drove the team raking hay. One afternoon the horses stepped into a ground wasp nest and the wasps attacked .

    Team bolted and no amount of pulling in the reins would slow them. They broke on a straight line to the farm 3/4 of a mile away. I was in the dump rake holding on for my life! They went through the pasture fence at 3 different points, breaking off posts and dragging wire.

    They headed for the open barn door which was 8 ft wife and the rake was 12 . The dump rake had a foot dump which was a book that caught cogs in the wheel and would reset when the rake dumped.

    The bouncing had that rising and dumping to the point I couldn't bail off without being impaled. Horses ran full out and abruptly stopped just inside barn door!

    I needed a change of underwear after that ride. I loved those horses, but in today's world we simply could not meet demands using them.

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