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For Kids

This page is for kids who want to learn more about horses and about growing up with horses. Iíve included a little information about my horses and also some general information.

My daughter Lisa grew up with horses and is a very good rider. Sheís now 22 years old and is studying to be an engineer at San Diego State University, in California. If you have questions on what itís like to grow up with horses and how you can get to know horses, you can write Lisa at lisa@wagonteamster.com

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Lisa on the family riding horse - ďApple JackĒ

All four of my horses are Percheron draft horses.  Several hundred years ago, Percherons were the favorite horse for French knights to ride in battle. When a knight was all dressed out in armor and had his weapons, he weighed about double his normal weight. For this reason he needed a strong horse to carry him. When the days of the knights were over, Percherons were bred even larger, and used by farmers as strong farm horses.

About 150 years ago, farmers and horse breeders imported these horses to America for farmers here to use.  In the 1920ís, the Percheron was the most popular draft horse in the United States.  After the tractor started to be used on farms, the number of draft horses fell very rapidly.  In the 1950ís and 1960ís very few Percheron breeders were left in the United States. My great grandfather, Lawrence Sheaffer, and my grandfather, Jake Sheaffer, were two of the Percheron breeders still in the business. The bloodlines for my black horse, Joyce go way back in my family. My great grandfather bought an ancestor of Joyce in the year 1920, a registered Percheron mare named Kitt.

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Joyce & Apple Jack watch as Deedee pulls firewood in from the woods.

Working with Horses

Before you can harness or saddle a horse you should do a little work first. The horse should be curried (to work out old hair) and brushed.  This helps prevent hair from bunching up under the saddle or collar and causing sores.  Horses really like being curried and brushed.  Theyíre always itchy and this scratches them in all the right places. You should also check there feet and make sure the shoes arenít loose and that there is not any stones caught in the hoof.

curring Deedee
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Checking/Cleaning Front Hooves

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Checking/Cleaning Rear Hooves

A harness has a lot of pieces, all of which have a purpose to insure that it can do what is needed and to prevent the horse from getting any sores. The harness is put on the horse in two primary pieces.  First, comes the collar.  This is what the horse pushes against with their shoulder to pull whatever load you have them attached to.

Joyce With Collar

The two large curved metal bars with the balls on top are called hames and attach the harness to the collar.  The tugs are the long straps that come from the hames and run all the way back to the heel chains, which attach to the load being pulled.  This way the weight of the load pulls against the collar.  The strap the goes behind the horses butt is called britchen.  When the horse is hooked up to a pole on a wagon, this lets the horse slow down the wagon when itís going down a hill. The rest of the harness is there to hold everything in place.  The picture below shows Deedee with the harness on.  The heel chains are hooked up out of the way, since she is not hitched up to a load right now.

Joyce with just the collar on.

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Harness spread out on the ground.  The metal hames at the top of the picture attach to the collar.  The heel chains at the bottom left and right attach to the load being pulled

Deedee in Harness

Horseshoeing

Click on the link above for a nice little picture essay on shoeing a horse.  Iíve been shoeing my own horses for about 12 years. I started by learning from my farrier for about 2 years. Then I called in sick at my old job for 3 days(donít tell my old boss) and followed him around while he worked.  I did the shoeing and he told me what I was doing wrong - a great way to learn.  While I can shoe my own horses, Iím not a professional.  I would never attempt to work on a horse that needs shoes to correct a problem.