Teamster Roundtable 2002 Part 2
Teamster Roundtable 2002 Part 2

Teamster Roundtable 2002 Part 2

Small Farmer’s Journal Office, February 23, 2002

John Erksine, Morris Elverud, Mike McIntosh, Amy Evers, Dan Kintz, Joyce Sharp, Donna Waldron. Moderators: Lynn Miller and Doug Hammill

LYNN: Morris Elverud, you are a legend when it comes to training work horses. Would you prefer to have two year olds to train?

MORRIS: I’d just as soon have them 4 or 5 years old and untouched

LYNN: Doug Hammill, what would you charge for training a horse and what horse would you like to have?

DOUG: Well, I don’t put as much emphasis on age as far as my preference but I would much prefer to have a horse that hasn’t been touched as one that’s been spoiled. And it doesn’t have as much to do with who does the training because I’ve gotten horses that have been previously owned by people that do a very good job of training but they don’t do everything just the way I do, maybe they do a better job, but they do it a little different. I like to start out with a pure, unadulterated mind and the age doesn’t make as much difference to me as that. So the less that’s been done with the horse the more I like it.

DOUG: And I learned quite a long time ago you don’t have to make very many dollars an hour to make better money than you can charge to break horses. I don’t think people could pay me enough to put in the time. I love working with horses, I love working young horses, but to take a team in or a pair of young horses in and produce a driving team for people? I have other things that I can do that generate more income to support my livelihood.

AUDIENCE: With started horses, does it take a lot longer to get them trained than ones that have never been touched?

DOUG: There are a lot of people that can get their horse to be gentle but there aren’t a lot of people who can get their horse to respect them. And it takes both.

AUDIENCE: Do you discount “imprinting” foals at birth, where the owner gets to the foal early and gets it to accept him kind of like a family member?

DOUG: No, no not at all. Imprinting is a great technique.

LYNN: Would any of the others of you like to touch that question about what would be your preference of an animal to train and what would you charge?

DONNA: Well, the Andersons have enough horses of their own to break so we don’t break them. The majority of them we break in the winter before they turn three and the only training that they’ve had is when they’re colts. The winter before they turn three we break them into feeding cattle in the wintertime and the only thing we’ve done with them when we take them off the mares, when we wean them, that first winter they will spend around the barnyard, being tied in the barn and around the barnyard and then they’re turned out.

LYNN: What would you charge if you did?

DONNA: I think when I broke some mares, I think I charged him $300 a piece.

DOUG: I’ll tell you just sitting here and listening to these people knowing their qualifications and their prices, that these are the best bargains in the world right here.

AMY: I know that the going rate for training saddle horses is $400 to $600 a month plus board in most places right now.

DONNA: Their training horses out at $25.00 an hour and that means catching the horse, bringing it in, brushing it down and all that.

LYNN: I’m not sure that you could ever have a horse complete. In other words if he’s the smartest, best-trained horse in the world you couldn’t protect him from a fool.

JOHN: I could take an outside animal, and there’s been animals there that anybody could work with when they went back and when the owners knew their animals, I could do things with them but I know full well that the owners would never be able to do that. So sometimes those type of animals, knowing the capabilities of people when they came, I don’t think the owners would ever be able to handle them right. I knew that they were never going to get it, they had the attitude that – they saw him do it, I can do it and it’s not that way. It’s about your experience level and the animal’s level. A lot of them have personalities just like people and you have to work with that in mind.

DOUG: I would encourage people if they take a horse to someone to have it trained to then, once that job is done, pay a little extra to have yourself trained with the horse.

DAN: Very good, that’s a big point.

LYNN: I was going to ask Dan Kintz, but anybody here on the panel or in the audience should jump in with thoughts, this is a question that somebody called in to me. ‘Can I make a decent living logging with horses today?’

DAN: If you can find a job. There’s not that much horse logging sales come up any more. There used to be. Some private guys do some horse logging.

LYNN: So the challenge is the timber marketplace good, not necessarily the horses?

DAN: Both, the market ain’t there and they ain’t turning that much over. The boys did some last winter in the park up there at Silver Falls with horses.

LYNN: So to expand on that Dan, with your lifetime experience, do you have a figure in your head? Do you figure when you’re not falling trees, you’re just skidding, and things are the way they’ve been would you figure that the average board footage per week for you and a team is 3000 board foot, 5000 board foot, 15,000 board foot. Do you have a number in the back of your head? Just skidding logs.

DAN: You should be able to skid at least 4 or 5000 feet a day.

MORRIS: That changes dramatically; it depends on the timber and the lay of the land.

DAN: Your length of timber and your length of yard.

LYNN: There’s an interface problem with what you’re talking about; if you can find the job. Because of what we do with the Journal on occasion we’re contacted by the Forest Service or the BLM or a private people saying, ‘I can’t find a horse logger. I want to get this done, I want to test this, or I need to get this done or experiment with this and we can’t find people to do it.’ And I don’t know how to answer that challenge. How would they find, locally, a horse logger?

DAN: Word of mouth.

JOHN: Tell the Forest Service people in your area. You’ve got to get the word out that you’re there. The hardest job is not moving the timber; the hardest is getting a job that’s the right size, and to be able to do the calculations and sale. The buying and selling is the hardest. That’s what makes or breaks you.

AUDIENCE: On log sales for personal, say they’ve got a piece of ground and they want to pull some logs off it, they don’t want machinery, they want the horses. You still have to go through permitting just so you can get the okay to be able log it, then you’ve got to find the mill that will buy the logs, it’s not as easy as it seems.

DAN: Your own timber, you’ve got to get a permit from the government to cut it and they’ve got to come out and have a cruised. It’s not like it used to be.

LYNN: What’s the difference between a show draft horse or mule working in a big hitch and the characteristics of a plow horse. In other words, Donna, you’re plowing with horses and your showing them in the ring. Now we’re talking about those judges who placed you according to the height of your horses, as much as anything else. Is a plow horse a good horse to drive in the show ring?

DONNA: Well, obviously my answer would be yes, because that’s what we do with ours. We hitch them and we work them and we don’t see any difference and, as you can tell, the judges might not have cared much for our horses and maybe you could tell it didn’t affect Melvin (Anderson – Donna’s father) much. He raised the kind of horses he liked and that’s the key thing. I had somebody come to me at Sandpoint. They said, Donna I want you to come and look at my horses and tell me what you think of them. Well, I looked at them and they said they wondered if they should get rid of them or not. I said well, do you like them? That, to me is the question, do you like them. Maybe if you have pride in them, you like working around them, you like the way they look, you like the way they travel, then that’s the horse for you, it’s not my opinion or the judges. I mean we’ve gone to a lot of shows between Monroe and Sandpoint and down to Eugene and a lot of times we come back with no trophies, but we usually come back with the crowd really liking our horses. And to us that is what we go for.

Teamster Roundtable 2002 Part 2