When John Gibson called us from Canada – he said wanted to learn how to drive a four-horse hitch of draft horses at his ranch, Omega Drafts, near Houston, Texas. He and his ranch manager, Doug, had been driving the horses as teams but neither of them had driven a four-horse hitch.
I would like to explain the language difference between draft horse and carriage driving lingo. With draft horses – a team is usually two horses, a hitch can be up to six or eight horses sometimes more and you drive them with lines. In the carriage driving world – two horses is called a pair and four horses would be a team and you drive them with reins. Blinders are blinkers, etc.. Since we are talking about draft horses in this post – I will use the draft horse terminology.
With John’s busy work schedule we had to find dates that he could be in Texas and when Alex would be available. It worked out for Alex to fly to Houston on December 26th, 2011. John asked Alex if he would need any further help with hitching four horses, since he and his ranch manager had no experience with it. Alex said, yes! our daughter Dee is the best help he has had hitching four new horses. See Hitching Four and Newest Four and Mahogany Four in previous posts. So John flew Dee in from Michigan to help. Wise man!
The afternoon Alex arrived at the ranch they hitched a team of horses. There were several teams to choose from the herd, so they drove several teams to decide which would work the best with each other in a four. It is not as difficult to select a wheel team (the one closes to the carriage/wagon) but to select two horses who can lead the hitch is a little more difficult. Most of these horses were easy going and made nice driving teams. Many of them were rescued horses and of several different breeds including Clydesdales, Shires, Belgians and draft crosses.
This pictured, was the first full morning at the ranch and was the first four assembled. They chose to drive this particular four together because they trusted this group the most.
And they went along pretty good.
The first couple of days they mixed and shuffled and selected other horses to work in the hitch, all in an effort to find the best four horses to work with….And that they did!
Then John got to drive them.
And Doug got to drive them.
There were lots of great places to drive on and off the Omega Draft Ranch. The location was beautiful, the Texas hospitality was as great as you’d expect and John was a perfect host. Dee took as many photos as she could between grabbing heads and lining out horses and helping her dad string lines.
There were other critters on the ranch including Obadiah the donkey, a swan, geese and…
Zebras??? Yes, zebras. This is the stallion, mare and two week old foal.
And Texas longhorns.
It wasn’t all work –
John wanted to catch lunch one day but the fish weren’t biting. So…
John took the crew to the best BBQ place in town! This place, “Pop’s Pitt” was so good they hit this place twice.
The week working with John Gibson, his manager Doug and the horses went very well. John had a great time driving four of his horses.
John asked Alex if he would come back to Texas and offer a clinic to more drivers. Alex, of course, said he would love to do that.