Monday, June 28, 2010

Indigo and the stone boat

So a couple weeks ago with my own to bare hands I made a stone boat. Indigo pulls it like she was a draft horse in another life. Bitless of course.

What exactly is a stone boat you ask?
A stone boat is basically a horse pulled wood sled sort of thing with steel runners. Or aluminum barn siding runners in my case because it's what I had and what I could bend.

Excuse the half light half shadow. I could not see what I was taking a picture of because of the sunlight.

Anyway, about this stone boat. It's used for hauling rocks, wood, dirt, whatever you can put on it and make the horse pull it, including yourself on a bale of straw. Mine does not have a lip or sides YET. Only because I cannot find a piece of wood I can use. Soon, soon.

So we have been picking up rocks in the field that will become some sort of pasture hopefully soon AKA a flat place for me to ride/drive. We have quite the pile of rocks going out behind the calf barn (the little barn Indigo and Sheba share for shelter that used to house the calves).

So a stone boat is a lot different than a carriage. A stone boat requires constant pulling, unlike a carriage that starts rolling once the horse pulls it.

A stone boat will teach a horse many important things such as:

How to pull. There is constant pressure on the traces because there is constant pulling. Especially if there is a heavy load. A horse really has to throw his weight into the collar to get a heavy load going with wheels but once the wheels are turning it kind of rolls along. A stone boat is deadweight; it requires constant effort.

How to stop. Because of the constant pulling after a wile of heaving away, especially with a heavier load the horse will want to stop and take a breather rather than have constant pressure.

How to stand still. This one is probably the hardest thing to teach a horse. Sure horses will stop but they are prey animals. They want to keep moving constantly. By pulling a stone boat they need to work. If you let them pull and work for a wile then offer the break a good majority of them clue into this quickly and take the opportunity to rest.

Indigo has discovered all three of these.
First the loads started getting heavier because of the rocks. She would go "Holy crap must back up to relieve tension on the tugs" and get a tap from me telling her she had to go forward. She caught on and heaved her weight into the collar.
Then I had to ask her to stop so I could pick up rocks and pile them on. She would stop balanced and right on cue without even a touch of the reins when I so much as uttered a woah.
Lastly she learned to stand still. Hauling rocks is hard work. We need to stop and start and stop and start and even though shes not moving fast it's hard work pulling. She caught on about the third trip to the rock pile that if she stood wile I unloaded I would drop the reins and leave her be wile I tossed rocks off, which also made the load lighter when she started again. She also learned that taking one step back relieved the pressure on the tugs. If you watch the video below you can see when she stops the second or third time she takes a step back.
Smart horse.

The thing that really got me, why I love this horse is she acted as if she had been pulling the stone boat all her life. A stone boat scrapes along the ground. When I pass over the driveway and it made an awful scraping noise she didn't even flick an ear. Most horses, even ones who have been driving for a wile would have jumped ahead and gone "what the heck is going to eat me!?".
Then theres Indigo, the horse who didn't even know what a carriage was 3 years and a bit ago when I first decided she would drive too. She just takes what I throw at her and adjusts with a very accepting attitude.

So here is a video I took today of me riding on the stone boat.

Excuse the random ground/leg/feet I was driving with both lines in one hand and videoing with the same hand at the same time wile trying to wrestle my straw bale that I didn't quite put all the way on. It fell off.

I feel like we have accomplished a lot this year and I am glad. What have you accomplished this year with your horses? What do you still hope to accomplish?


Paint Girl said...

That is so cool! Indigo looks like she is really enjoying it!

Jen said...

Awesome - Never heard of a stone boat before, but that looks like a terrific way to clean up the pasture (wanna come to our house? :o)

Cathy Clementz said...

I haven't seen or used (or even heard the word) stoneboat in ages! We pulled ours behind an old Minneapolis Moline tractor...and it was an ancient stoneboat. It didn't need sides on it because it was "concaved" in the middle of it. Good luck with all of that!

Anonymous said...

How cool! That looks like a lot of fun, way to go Syd & Indi! As for my accomplishments... This year I managed to finally send my mare out for training and now I'm happily trail riding regularly! I also managed to learn to hook up my trailer on my own as well as haul my horse. So far it's been a great year! Next is bitless.

Golden the Pony Girl said...

How neat! I want to make one for my guy now. :) One day I will take on driving. So cool.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Funny to call it a stone boat. I remember my Grandpa, who was a farmer, calling something that looked very similar, a Skid.

It's neat to think that farmers were working their horses in fields the same as you are now with Indigo.

As you know I've accomplished a lot. Just the fact that I'm riding again sometimes amazes me. I've ridden more over the past 6 months than I've ridden in my entire life. Obstacle training with Apache to compete in Competitive Trail Rides has been very rewarding and fun, too.
And this weekend's Cowboy Horse Camping trip into the mountains of northern New Mexico have long been a goal and a dream of mine even before I owned my first horse.



juliette said...

Indigo is a very good girl to do that! I can't imagine Pie and/or Sovey EVER trying such a thing. Especially Pie actually - he is a bit lazy! LOL

Jessie McCandless said...

How neat! I never heard of a stone boat before, so very interesting to hear not only what it is but how it helps the horse with training how to pull. One day I'll get Paula in harness. One day..... LOL

Blog Widget by LinkWithin