NOFA-NY Field Notes


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Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Training Draft Horses for Farm Work

Love the idea of training draft horses for farm work? Read this guest blog by Donn Hewes of Northland Sheep Dairy and in advance of his NOFA-NY Winter Conference workshop, "Training Draft Horses for Work," on Friday, Jan 19. Register for the conference and get your Early Bird discount by Friday, December 15!

"In the early morning mist you find your horses out on pasture. You are struck by how beautiful they are, but also surprised at how natural they are. Some are grazing, some are taking in the first rays of the sun, and still others stand on guard, watching for any threat; they are working like a wild band. It’s time for you to bring them into the barn to be harnessed for farming and forestry.             


In the last 15 years of working with draft animals, I have discovered a connection between teaching the beginning teamster and training the green team. In some ways, they both need to learn the same things: how to communicate in a horse/human relationship. While the beginning teamster is not usually training the young untrained draft animal, all the skills and techniques applied to start an animal at work are derived from the best practices while working any team, even a very experienced one. What does it take to really understand our draft partners? What would make it safe for me to work with them? How would I begin to train a young horse or mule for work? We will discuss all of this and more at my NOFA-NY Winter Conference workshop."

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To learn more about draft animal power or Donn’s teamster training, check out: or Or on FB, check out the DAPNet discussion group.

P.S. If you want a special opportunity to drive horses and mules with Donn, then bid on his offering at our online holiday auction here by 11:58 pm this Sunday, December 10th. The value is $200, and the current high bid is way under! Click here to bid!

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