Monday, November 26, 2012

Workhorse Workshop at Live Power Community Farm

 On the evening prior to the start of Doc Hammill's Farming and Working Horses in Harness Workshop,  Doc often gives a presentation,"The Mind of the Horse" that is open to the public and free of charge.This provides Doc an opportunity  to share with people his insights into how  horses perceive, react, think,  learn, respond and communicate.  Doc believes by giving people this fundamental knowledge, they then can use the information to get horses to willingly cooperate  as partners, rather than being forced.
The workshop starts the following morning with a combination of sharing more information about horses' minds, physiology, reactions and perceptions and students being involved in hands-on activities. Having a variety of presentations and activities for students considers and addresses different learning styles. Having instructors to assist Doc provides students more one-on-one time.
4th Annual Farming and Working  Horses in Harness Workshop begins in the Decater's barn
For beginning students,  getting the harness on a big horse can be just a bit overwhelming.  Steven Decater, an experienced teamster and owner,with his wife Gloria, of Live Power Community Farm,  made it understandable.   His explanation and demonstration of how to put harness on a horse was thorough and straight forward. Then, students in this workshop were given plenty of time to practice harnessing and unharnessing the horses themselves.

Live Power Community Farm, an Organic and Bio-dynamic horse powered farm, hosted Doc's 4th Annual Farming and Working with Horses in Harness here at Covelo, California. Ten students from California and Washington attended this 2 day event.
Dirk driving Laura
The diversity of the students attending Doc's workshops is always amazing.  In attendance in this workshop were.... an administrator of a Non-Profit, a NASA construction engineer, farm managers,  farm apprentices, and the co-owner of a winery and  vineyard. Some students were in their 20's.. just planning their careers, others older, and thinking about retirement. Such diversity among attendees makes for interesting and lively discussions and exchange of ideas around the breakfast, lunch, and supper tables. Even though some students had many years' experience around horses and mules....this was the first time most took the driving lines into their hands.

Suzy driving Pete

When asked why they had come to this workshop, one person said:

"I want to learn about driving horses to get work done.  I have been a professional  horse trainer, of dressage and jumping horses, for more than 15 years; I want to give this a try."

This year, we had four capable instructors available to work one-on-one with students in hands-on activities.    Doc and Cathy, as well as Steven Decater and his oldest son Alexander, were all here to help students gain as much understanding, wisdom, technique, and skill as possible during the workshop.

"Doc's presentation , 'The Mind of the Horse' is of particular interest to me; I want to learn the language of horses;  I know I am talking to them, I just don't know what I am saying."

Luke Driving Laura

                       Initially students cycled between ground driving single horses with Doc, Cathy and Alexander....

 and driving two horse teams with Steven.
Antonio driving Peg and Molly

AC driving Peg and Molly

Luke driving Peg and Molly

Gloria Decater collecting memories!

We covered a lot of ground in this workshop......check back to this blog soon for more hi-lights from 
Doc Hammill's Driving and Farming with Horses in Harness Workshop, Covelo 2012. 

Special: we'll post video of students driving horses hitched to 
 Annie's-All-In-One multipurpose implement dig potatoes!

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