January 16th, 2012 From Omega Drafts – Houston, Texas
Alex and Dee,
I just wanted to express my thanks for one of the most enjoyable learning experiences of my life. When I asked if you could come to Texas and help us get started driving a four-horse hitch, I had know idea what a high bar I had set for myself, my horses, my ranch manager, or you. Regardless, you exceeded all expectations. We did it!
Your approach in hindsight was critical to our having a successful week. About two months prior to your arrival, you instructed us to inventory equipment to ensure we had what was required. With the assistance of Kayo, we ordered the missing lines, buckles, trees, etc. that would have kept us from reaching the goal. Thanks Kayo – we had everything necessary to tackle the objective.
Second, you did not take my word that I had five quiet teams from which to put together a four-horse hitch. Upon your arrival, we hitched and drove several teams for you to choose the best four for our four hitch. Your observations of our horses made the week a success. We got our value almost immediately by learning about the teams we were already regularly driving, how to get more from each team, and how to recombine the teams to further improve performance. Your quick observation of the difference in stride between my choice of leaders and yours changed everything. The leaders that you chose – did great – thanks Katy and Doris! I was half right on which horses would make the best leaders. I had become comfortable driving Katy and Rachel and just did not realize how much work Katy was doing due to the stride difference. Leaving Katy at left leader, moving Rachel back to the right wheeler, Doris into the right leader, and putting Annie at left wheeler made the team fit for beginners. Having the right horses, in the right positions, correctly hitched made the week a huge success.
I do think that teaching Doug and I both to drive and hitch the four was important as well. That should help us to be a much safer operation after your departure. It is always better to have two people on a wagon who know what do if something goes amiss as compared to having one shouting instructions from the seat at the other who is unfamiliar with what to do. Doug frankly did better than I did driving the horses. We are fortunate to have Doug Shamp working with us; just as you are fortunate to have Dee working with you. Dee did an excellent job in showing us how to stay safe. She was always on the ground without a word from you at just the right time and just the right place to keep everything perfect. She really contributed to the week. Thanks Dee. I also appreciate you guys helping us put together a method for hitching and unhitching in the barn aisle. By using the aisle, Doug and I can handle safely hitching four without needing additional help.
Alex, there is just too much to thank you for in a short note. The week was great! We learned far more than I expected. We went from driving teams to a four-hitch in two days! We learned how to choose the position of horses, how to hitch the horses, how to adjust the harness, how to adjust the lines, how to drive a four-up, how to manage the horses while driving……. In short, we had a blast. We definitely got our monies worth. Look forward to having you back in the future. Next time, two donkeys, and a camel unicorn hitch. I think you can do it.
May God Bless Your Efforts,