Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fumbling Farmers

As planned yesterday, we harnessed up Nataya. Well, we kind of did.

After cleaning the rabbitry and goat pen, we grabbed the tangled mess of leather that sat in our garage. While I had cleaned and oiled it, I had yet to sort it into any sort of usable shape. We set up saw horses and ran a fence post in between them. From there, we could hang the gear over it like it would be on the horse. It took  a couple minutes for us to figure out what was twisted, connected wrong etc. It also took us breaking out the text book given to us in our draft horse class. Once we had done that, we headed into the pasture to retrieve our horse.

Nataya is a saint. No, she's more than that. She's a patient teacher and gentle beast. She wasn't wild about being hitched down by the rabbit/chicken barn. We decided not to try and harness both horses since it was clear we were confused, and Sunny isn't as patient with new hands. Plus, it was cold, 11 degrees with the wind, and we were sure it would take four times as long as it needed to. We wanted to take Nataya out of the pasture because Sunny is curious, and jealous, and the second she sees working gear she can barely contain her excitement. Yesterday was no exception.

When the girls heard the rattle of equipment they stood at the gate looking at us, as if to say, "Finally, these people are going to do something. Let's hope they know what that 'something' is". Once Nataya was tied though, she was more antsy then usual. Part of this was a break in her routine, part of it was the wind. It's much more windy down by the house then up in the horse pasture. She had every right to be concerned. She settled in though, once we were grooming her and chatting. Sunny stood at the gate and whinnied, jealous and hopeful that she was next in line. 

For the most part, we managed to set up the harness with little fan fare, though many head scratches and frozen fingers. It wasn't pretty, or quick, but that will come with time. There are no pictures, because it would have been a lot of shots of us in puffy winter coats staring at a book while a very good pony attempted to find some stray pieces of hay. The only real hiccup was the bridle/bit. My delivery was horrid. All three times. I managed not to click her teeth with the cold metal, which was good- but I handled her ears a bit rough and overall couldn't get it to sit properly. I got some tips from the experts though, and watched a few videos online. I'm eager to try again, maybe with help from our neighbor. 

We didn't drive her, even on the ground- mostly due to our messy bridle handling. But, it was still a good step. I'm not afraid to hitch her- and it will go smoother next round. Soon it will become like so many of the farm skills that seemed foreign at first. I learned to butcher chickens and rabbits through watching videos online initially, and now I can cleanly, safely, and skillfully handle those tasks without batting an eye. I've learned so many skills like this. So the handling of the equipment, I know will come- and seem simple so soon. Then it will be learning the team, and building a working relationship that will help us haul, plow, disk, spread... and ride along. It all starts with a wind burnt day, two fumbling farmers- and a patient pony. 

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