Teamsters Roundtable 2001 Part 1
Teamsters Roundtable 2001 Part 1

Teamster’s Roundtable 2001 Part 1

Teamsters: Bud Dimick – Charlie Jensen – Dr. Don Mustard – Bud Evers – Bulldog Fraser – Clay Maier – Dr. Doug Hammill – Ed Triplett

Moderator: Lynn Miller

February 3rd 2001, Sisters, Oregon

LYNN MILLER: My name is Lynn Miller. Starting at the far end of the table we have Dr. Doug Hammill from Montana. Doug has written articles in the Small Farmer’s Journal going all the way back to the very beginning. He was a veterinarian in Montana, retired now. He is a western folk history buff. He is a performer of Western Americana. He teaches workshops on his ranch on the east side of the Rocky Mountains. He is, for a young man, rapidly becoming a living legend. And I can tell you from first hand experience that he is larger than the legend in person. You’re going to find out about that today.

Doug is keenly interested, as I have been, for all of the 30 some odd years that we’ve both been doing this (and the 25 years we’ve known each other) in helping people appreciate this way of life and way of working. And especially interested in helping people get safe starts, safe beginnings and learning some of the intricacies that could take a person to a second, third and fourth level in appreciation, and comfort, ease and convenience with the horses.

Sitting next to Doug is Dr. Don Mustard. This man also is a living legend. Doc Mustard is a vet and a Clydesdale man as is Doug Hammill. Doc Mustard’s long history with Clydesdales in Washington state is peppered with stories that I’m hoping we’re going to get a chance to hear quite a few of. He’s helped more people than we can count get a good start with horses.

Next to him is the sexiest man on the panel. (Laughter)

I paid them to laugh.

This is Bob, sometimes known as Bulldog, Fraser from Northwestern Montana.

Bulldog is a horse logger and horse farmer in Montana. He’s helped an awful lot of people get started, safe starts.

Next to Bulldog is Bud Evers, retired saddle maker and harness maker who raises Fjord horses. Bud’s daughter, Amy, has worked for us for a very long time here at the office. Bud has helped me many summers on the ranch with our own farming operation. He is a real master teamster and doesn’t consider himself as such.

Sitting next to him is Clay Maier. This man has been immersed in the culture of horses, saddle and driving horses, for all of his adult life. He’s helped us on occasion out at the ranch. He’s a champion four-in-hand driver, and combined event driver. He has been working for a long time with a local Friesian hitch and traveling all over North America demonstrating his unique approach to those horses. He’s got an awful lot of good stuff to share. He’s wondering why he’s on the panel. I know why he’s there and you guys are going to find out pretty soon.

Next to him is Bud Dimick. Ten years ago he came out to help me at the ranch and he had his big team there and we were mowing hay. That morning it seemed to me that Bud was having a little bit of difficulty with his harness and I went to help him and he told me that he didn’t want my help, that he could do it himself. When he couldn’t do it himself, he wouldn’t do it anymore. That was ten years ago when he was 83. He’s going to be 93 pretty soon. And he’s still doing it on his own. He’s a wheelwright, wagon builder, long, successful history of working with race horses as a trainer. He’s a fixture here in Central Oregon. You see him in most every parade. He’s always willing to help people. He’s literally, again, as with everybody on this panel, a living legend.

Next to Bud is Charlie Jensen. Thirty years ago when Ias a kid from the city I thought I wanted to work horses in harness, there were a couple of gentlemen who took me under their wing and beat me in the right shape. One was my dear, departed friend Ray Drongesen and the other was his buddy, Charlie Jensen. Charlie was one of my mentors when I was getting started.

Now, we’ve got a gentleman here I don’t know real well and I’m going to ask Doug Hammill if he’ll introduce Ed Triplett to you.

DOUG HAMMILL: Well on the other end of the table here is Ed Triplett and Ed has a long, long history with horses. Actually his father, before Ed was born, moved from Missouri to Oklahoma in a horse drawn wagon, back to Missouri, later to eastern Montana where they homesteaded. Two years before Ed was born he moved with horses and wagons from eastern Montana to western Montana into the Flathead Valley. They had to put them on the train at Browning on the reservation and go across the Continental Divide on the train, unload the wagons in the Flathead Valley to get to their new home because there was no road, just the train to get over the Continental Divide. His dad lived up into his nineties and used horses right up until he died. Never did use trucks or tractors on their place. Ed grew up tough and poor on a homestead. Kind of a stone boulder claim. He’s cowboyed, he’s worked in the mines, he’s logged, he’s done just about anything you can imagine with horses. He is a very, very dear friend and someone who has taught me a great deal, and reined me in a few times and kicked me in the backside a few times but they don’t come any better. Nobody’s got a better friend than I have in Ed Triplett.

ED TRIPLETT: Goes this way too.

DOUG HAMMILL: Lynn, there’s one more introduction which hasn’t been made and probably doesn’t need to be made but I can’t quite help myself and that is Lynn Miller himself. Lynn is someone who, like me, and like a lot of us probably started out in this pursuit of draft horses and horses in harness as a personal interest. But he’s taken it so far beyond that to the benefit of all the rest of us in what I refer to as the animal powered subculture, draft horse subculture, that I feel I have to bring attention to what he’s done to this hobby industry subculture that we’re all a part of. I know of no one else in this country or perhaps the world that has made a greater contribution with, of course, his team over the years to reestablishing, re-creating opportunities, disseminating the information that we all need and enjoy so much as Lynn, at the other end of the table there. How about a hand for him.

DOUG HAMMILL: Before we get into the first question, I’ve got one more thing Lynn, that I want to say. Over the years, like Lynn, I’ve had opportunities to benefit from mentors. Good old-timers that were outstanding horsemen, yeoman, and so forth. And a lot of these old timers that I have had the good fortune to know I swear remembered every detail about every horse or mule that ever came within a hundred yards of ‘em.

I’ve got a poem that I would like to share with you about an old-timer like that and I am sure it will reflect on the gentlemen sitting here at this table. I don’t know who wrote this poem. Red Steagall recited it at the 1992 Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering. So I don’t know who to give credit to for this poem. But it goes something like this:

That little frame house in the cottonwood trees
looks the same as when I was a kid.
I slept on that porch on those hot summer nights
‘cause that’s what my grandfather did.
My grandpa was a hero, a cowboy, my friend,
I thought he was 20 foot tall.
I dogged out his footsteps from morning til night
then I went back to school in the fall.
He worked on the Matador when he was young
and the Four Sixes and the Panhandle Ranch.
Then he come back to Weatherford, married Grandma
and they bought this old hard scrabble ranch.
Each day was a struggle. Somehow they got by
though the banker owned most of their stock.
They raised longhorn cows and a house full of kids
on mesquite brush and cedar and rock.
His old spinster sister just passed away
and left me a bunch of her stuff.
There’s a big box of pictures of him and grandma
and a case of poured out Garrett snuff.
I drove out this morning to show ‘em these things
and identify all of my kin
so they’d become people with faces and names
not, ahh, someone who lived way back when.
Well Grandma was tickled, she knew every face.
She’d name ‘em and I’d write ‘em down.
Grandpa in his rocker just fooled with his hat,
changing the crease in his crown.
There was one in particular she studied hard.
It was her and Grandpa on this place.
Her calico dress was a sign of the times
and his hat covered most of his face.
Dry cow hide was hanging along the top rail
t’was all they had left from the drought.
She said, look here pa, you’ll remember this one.
The summer we nearly pulled out.
Well he put on his glasses, laid down his hat
and stared at the picture awhile.
Looked up at her, squinted his eyes
and answered in true cowboy style.
Hey that black bald faced pony, why that’s old Curly Wolf.
That jug headed renegade runt.
And that stocking legged pony, why that’s old Santy Clause.
Ma, who are these people in front?

(Applause and laughter)

LYNN MILLER: Okay what we’d like to do, just following right on the heels of that perfectly, is start with a question that somebody submitted and it’s a very good question but it wasn’t one I was expecting. I was expecting technical questions, training questions, access questions. This question is very simple and should be pretty helpful in getting us introduced to you. This question reads as such: What is your favorite memory as a horseman? And I was going to ask Don Mustard cause I warned him about this last night so he had a little bit of time to think about it. Not everybody here had a chance to think about that. You may have something you want to say and if you want to pass that’s fine. But if you’d like to share with us your favorite memory as a horseman, I can give you this as a prelude. Don, thinking about it myself, I can’t separate out one memory.

DON MUSTARD: That’s my problem. I can’t separate out one memory because if I hadn’t enjoyed ‘em, I wouldn’t have had them. But I do, one thing I’ve always had fun with is pricking inflated egos and thumping on bullies. I remember one time when I was a kid, we always used a horse to pull the hay, we’d pull the wagon up and sock in the double harpoon and then the horse would pull the hay up into the mow. A neighbor called and wanted us to come down and help him so I rode this horse down. He’s about 18 ½ hands. I’ve got a picture of him standing next to a 1800 pound Percheron mare and he towers over her so I’m guessing he weighed about 2500 pounds. I rode him down to this place and they had a barn with a track in it. Pull the wagon up, guy on the wagon would pull the fork down and sock it into the hay, give me the hi sign and I’d drive the horse up, lift the hay up, go onto the track into the barn. I noticed that he began to push that fork down in farther every time and try to stick that horse, put a load of hay on there that the horse couldn’t lift up. Well ordinarily you’d take a forkful off the front of the wagon, forkful off the back, another one down here, another one down there, and the wagon would be pretty clear. Well he’d taken two off the thing and he set that fork down in the front of the wagon and he got up and he jumped on it, socking it way down in and he pulled the handle up to lock the tines of the hayfork, gave me the hi sign and I started the horse out the little narrow gravel driveway and old Bob started just really leaning into it. Boy, that’s a good load. He kept going and all of a sudden he swung off to the right in some kind of wet ground and he got down to where his belly probably wasn’t that far off the ground and he’s still going. I looked back, here comes the wagon bed up. I got the biggest kick out of that. That guy never did try to stick that horse again.

LYNN MILLER: Thank you Don. Charlie, did you have a chance to think about that at all?

CHARLIE JENSEN: Yes, a little bit. I had one horse that we called Jim. He was always the funniest horse that we ever owned. He would just do different things, you know, just to irritate you and one of them was he’d walk up to the barn door and he’d take his nose and he’d open the latch on the door and walk on in. There’s just so many different things.

LYNN MILLER: Bulldog. What about you? Any favorite memories?

BULLDOG: I think that the first time I started breaking a horse on my own, I got him to going and feeling relaxed, comfortable and that’s a heck of a feeling that you can only get by doing it.

LYNN MILLER: Ed, you got any memory that you’d want to share?

ED TRIPLETT: Yes, my first runaway. I was 8 years old and I had my 6 year old brother and 10 year old sister and we’d go to the lower valley below Kalispell and go to school. I was driving this old horse, he was part Appaloosa. We called him Old Baldy. I go to harness him and he’d stand on my foot. He’d put all his weight on it. I kick him and kick him to get him to take his foot off and bawl like heck. And anyway, we started down and got down about a half a mile and there’s a farm there, the guys name was Penbrook and he had this big old sow. We had all kinds of hogs and this horse had no reason to be scared of a sow, but she was making a lot of noise. The first thing I knew his tail was where his head was supposed to have been. He turned that cart and took out for home. Well, Dad always taught me to see-saw them. I finally got him stopped, caught my breath, and got him turned around and got back to where the sow was again and he froze again. But this time he didn’t run and about that time the neighbor was taking his two kids to school in a car and his eyes were wild and he was snorting through his nose and just thought he was going to die. This old boy grabbed the line and kicked him in the belly and we were school bound and got there with no problem.

LYNN MILLER: Bud Dimick, do you have something you want to share?

BUD DIMICK: I don’t know. I’m a poor talker. I’ve had a lot of experience though. We tried to haul a load of hay to the desert one time, me and another kid, they sent us in with four horses to haul a load of hay to Evans place out by Millican. We were supposed to make two trips but we decided we could get it all on so we loaded the wagon up and by the time we got out on the road the day was about all gone so we had to wait and do it another day. We got out on the Burns highway and that wagon would sink in that old gravel and them horses pulled and worked and we had to go so slow we liked to never got out there. It took us five days to get that load of hay out there. The wagon would go down that old Burns highway and you could look back and see the tracks going in the gravel there. In the spring of that year when it was thawing out, it had cut in that gravel, two, three, four inches all the way there, those poor horses. That’s the worst time we ever had. I and that kid, we pretty near starved to death. That was one experience I’ll never forget. If we would have made two trips like we were supposed to do, we would have done it a lot quicker and easier but we put it all on one load.

ED TRIPLETT: That’s what they call a lazy man’s load.

LYNN MILLER: Bud Evers, anything you want to share?

BUD EVERS: Well, the only thing I can think of right off, about three years ago out on your ranch, I’d been out raking hay and I was about half asleep on the rake and my team was about half asleep and we were just plugging along down the field and Amy decided she was going to shoot at a coyote. So she shot at the coyote and my horses woke up in a hurry.

LYNN MILLER: You were raking rocks.

BUD EVERS: I was raking rocks, I was raking green hay, I raked hay that wasn’t even mowed yet. I finally got ‘em stopped and had to go rebuild the hayrake but we made out alright.

BULLDOG: When you have a run like that and you get to going, you go by somebody you want to be sure and wave. Don’t let ‘em know you have any problems.

LYNN MILLER: Write that down in your notebook as training secret #1. Can I put you on the spot Clay?

CLAY MAIER: I guess it’s going to come sooner or later. Some of my experiences are a little different than what we’ve heard here. I’ve been involved in sort of entertainment oriented things with horses. Like Lynn said with the Wild West Shows and with showing horses and horse show situations. I’m using Friesian horses these days and have for several years. A lot of that is just because they are just impressive to look at. When you see a Friesian horse coming, regardless of whatever he does, when you see him, you just want to watch him. I used to and I still do sometimes, I’ll train leaders for lead horses in 4-horse teams or sixes or whatever. I’ll ride another horse and drive those two so I can get right to them and get them broke to where they are just moving. I started doing that and pretty soon that got kind of entertaining. So I started doing that at county fairs and that led to other things. Often I’d use Bulldog’s advice, whenever I was in trouble, I’d just wave.

BULLDOG: It works.

CLAY MAIER: Yes, it does. It’s solid advice. I guess the memory that I was going to say that after having done this kind of thing for a number of years I was at Louisville, Kentucky at what they call the largest horse exhibition in the US and we were getting ready to go do this show and there’s 20,000 people in the grandstand. The lights are just like before a basketball game. They’re swirling and doing all of these things and you’re out there waiting to go and you think, boy this is different. Anyway, I guess that’s an experience that I can remember.

LYNN MILLER: I’ve got one that I want to share but I’m going to give Doug Hammill a chance. Doug, do you have one experience that you want to share?

DOUG HAMMILL: Well, I got a little mixed up on that question. You shouldn’t have shown it to me yesterday. I was thinking of…what’s the question again?

LYNN MILLER: The exact question?


LYNN MILLER: What is your favorite memory as a horseman?

DOUG HAMMILL: Favorite memory and I thought yesterday he had told me my most memorable experience.

BULLDOG: That’s what he told me.

DOUG HAMMILL: I didn’t sleep at all last night because you told me that question yesterday.

LYNN MILLER: Well, what’s the difference?

DOUG HAMMILL: Well, some of them are memorable but not favorable. In other words there are good ones and bad ones. But this one is a bad one that turned out good and the reason I chose it above all others that I’ve been reviewing here in the last 24 hours and that’s a tough question as I am sure these fellows here can attest to. I finally chose this one because I thought it is memorable for me but it would perhaps have value to the people here over some others. And that is my wife, Laurie, and I maybe six or seven years ago were asked to help some people who did commercial covered wagon trips for tourists. They took tourists in covered wagons, camped at night and went into remote country. They were just kind of getting started with this business on a shoestring. We didn’t know these people. They just called us up and they needed a couple teamsters so we went and volunteered to help them. My first clue that we might be in trouble was as we got near the ranch, we were about to pull into the ranch house there, I saw a whole bunch of stock out there in the field that was thinner than I liked and a lot more white spots on their hides than I liked to see. Pack stock because they had a pack outfit as well and some teams, mules and horses. So we got there and had dinner and all through dinner, the woman, who it turns out was the dominant horse in the team, kept telling about all the runaways she was having with these animals. Particularly this one mule in the team that caused runaways. And just the week before that team had taken her right though the corral rails with the wagon. Broke the rails and run right out of the corral on a runaway. So the next morning we went to the barn and began to get teams ready. And I was astounded at the harness that they thought they were going to be able to use to pull the wagons on this wagon trip, particularly the collars. Cracks that you could stick a quarter in in some of the collars right on the point of draft. And harness maladjusted and so forth. So Laurie and I got real busy, trying as best we could to readjust harness, find pads, cut up some sheepskin to make some protective arrangements and doing everything we could to the benefit of those animals that were going to be making this trip. We were looking at five teams at that point. And then when we got that little project accomplished as best we could, they asked me if I would mind ground driving that team of mules around the corral a bit to see what I thought. In the meantime the guests are all waiting for us to get the show on the road. And so I said I’ll drive them. And so I noticed when we were working on harness that they had a bicycle chain bit hanging on that mule’s bridle and this is something I don’t use and don’t recommend using. And yet I was the stranger there, this was their outfit, and so I put that bit in the mules mouth and they had it with the teeth against his tongue and the bars of his mouth. I did turn it around and so I had the smoother side on it and I had somebody untie the team and turn them around for me in the corral and I got on the lines. And the minute I picked up those lines, that near mule, the one that gave them the trouble, the one they gave the trouble as it turns out, as soon as I picked up the lines, didn’t have a bit of tension on it, he just went like that, he set his jaw and his neck and just went like that. I didn’t have an ounce of pressure on his mouth yet. He just knew what was coming and I asked him to go and they stepped out and he was just like that, and I drove them from here to Lynn and I stopped and I went around front and I asked somebody to go to the barn and get a straight bar bit that I’d seen hanging in the barn. One like this. A small one to fit that mule. They came back with the bit and I unbuckled the chain bit and put that bit in his mouth and went back and got on the lines and he felt me pick up the lines, even though I didn’t have any pressure on him, and he goes like this again, and I asked him to go and he stepped out and the lines tensed up and you could just see him go…and he started walking out, we went around the corral, we made serpentines, figure 8’s, stopped, backed up, swung left, swung right, went out to put him on the wagon. Fortunately the man that they had recruited to drive him was real soft spoken, easy going type of guy that had some pretty good experience with mules although he wasn’t an experienced teamster and we made a five day trip with that mule and he never did one thing wrong. So that was a tragedy, in my mind, that turns into a favorable memory in the end. Unfortunately there’s lots of other stories about that trip we won’t go into.

Teamsters Roundtable 2001 Part 1

LYNN MILLER: Lets jump to another question off the same list that is one of those what I call the “Oh no” questions. And what I mean by oh no is because the answer is so big. There is so much stuff we could talk about here. But I am going to go ahead and throw it out and I’m going to ask Doug if he wants to try to step on this question. As it reads here is, what step by step sequence have you found works best to train a horse to drive singly and in pairs. Now at this point and we’ve got about 40 minutes before we break for lunch, if you folks want to interrupt us, ask something, comment on something, we’d like to get you involved, so please don’t hesitate. But Doug the question is, what step by step sequence have you found works best to train a horse to drive singly and in pairs. And actually you know before you jump into that we had another question from somebody else here that may fit into this, at least suggest to you how these questions become oh no questions for us. This is far more specific. I like the ones that are more specific. This says I have several older horses that need to be broke to harness. They are just halter broke. I’m looking for information on starting them safely.

DOUG HAMMILL: How many days do we have?


DOUG HAMMILL: I’ll just speak very generally and I really encourage this in my workshops with both people and horses who are learning and that is baby steps. Horses can learn fast and they can learn a lot if we don’t throw too many different things at them at one time. At least that has been my experience. So I go in baby steps. If I had my choice which nowadays I do more than I did when I had horses that I had to get going in a time frame. If I had my choice, I teach a horse almost everything, almost everything it needs to know in harness before I ever get it in harness. I lead it out of the barn. For my horses I use their name and a whistle as a command to go, to start. So every time I take a hold of that halter rope and take a colt somewhere, it’s Barney (whistle) and we go. Every time I stop it’s whoa. Every time I ask him to get over in the stall or back up or anything like that and work your way up that way. Put the bridle on him one day. I use a straight bar bit with a rag that I’ve got wrapped and sewn around the bar bit. I smear molasses on that rag and those colts will put their head down to take that bit clear to the ground if you want. And then I just put the bridle on them and let them stand tied to something. Teach them to stand tied patiently long before they’re ever on a wagon or cart or anything else. Tied to the hitch rail and the corral post. Then I’ll add the collar, then I’ll add some harness. The biggest thing a person can do is have their complete trust and confidence before you start and that you can spend a whole day on as well. But the commands, we lead our horses around and forget to tell them anything. Teach them all the commands that they need to know before you ever start to put the harness on. And then after you put the harness on do it again. Lead them around the corral, command to start, command to stop, back up, so forth and so on. Don’t avoid the things that you think might scare them. Introduce them to those things in small bites and baby steps. Little by little in safe situations, controlled situations. Tie a rope on the hame and go back and flop it against their back legs when you’re in the corral, tied to the hitch rail, safe, get them used to the rope on the outside of the legs and the inside of the legs. The roping out procedure that Lynn’s got in his book. Because sooner or later they’re going to step over a trace and have it rubbing on the inside of their legs. If they have been habituated to that, accept it, they’ll remember. Just baby steps all the way and I’m going to let somebody else take it from there.

LYNN MILLER: Charlie’s anxious, he’s got something to say.

CHARLIE JENSEN: I bought a mare this fall that was eight years old and she’d never had a harness on her. She had been haltered, but never harnessed. I took that mare home and the next day, I always take my horses when I break them and put them on a stake, get ‘em to put the bit in their mouth, get ‘em to go round and round and round, that’s the first thing I do, and I turn ‘em and go the other way. And that gives them the chance to where you pull on that bit, they know which way they’re going. And I put the harness on that mare right away and put her on that stake. She was scared to death of that harness but she got used to it in a little bit. The next day I took her out and just walked her around the yard, driving her and making her go and I thought well, she’s doing pretty good. So I have a little sled there that I break them on with a seat on it so I just walked her over there, got her hooked up to that sled and I took off. I took quite a little ride for a little bit. But she slowed right down. I took her out in the field and went clear around the whole place with her. When I come back she was ringing wet. Just ringing wet from sweat. But the next day, I took her out, hooked her up, done the same thing with her and you know that mare never gave me one ounce of trouble, not one ounce.

LYNN MILLER: Before I ask somebody else to throw in I was going to suggest to you to be thinking about something here. What we have in this panel, that even though we might disagree about little procedures or timings or whatever else, what’s very obvious to me and may not be obvious to each of you, is that we have here an absolute expectation that we can do it. We know we can do it. Or in that rare instance where we know it can’t be done, we at least know that. There is a story that I need to recount and Charlie will remember Clark Hill. Do you remember Clark Hill from way back when?


LYNN MILLER: Junction City, when I was there, this old guy came to me and he had all kinds of stories to tell about his dad who had been a horseman. And there was a man who had an exceptional Percheron mare, beautiful mare, very well bred. But he couldn’t drive this mare. He could not drive this mare. She’d run away every single time, every trick in the book he used, he couldn’t get this mare to drive.

As the story goes, Clark’s dad was some kind of wunderkind with horses and this man brought this team to him and said, I don’t want to can this mare but I can’t drive her, she just absolutely goes nuts all the time. What Clark’s dad did was go up to the brow band on the bridle, cut a slit in it right there, took a little strap of leather, that strap of leather he hung on here, with the biggest hex nut he could find.


Some of you are already picking up on what this is. Then he took that mare on a lead shank and he told the guy who owned the mare, he said I want you to take a whip and just pop that whip. I want you to get her mad. So he’s leading this mare and she’s bouncing around and of course when she does, that nut’s hitting her right between the eyes. Right where you’d shoot her if you were going to kill her. Finally she just slows right down. She’s walking real slow because every time she moves that thing comes up and bang. So she gets to where she figures out how to have that nut balanced right over her forehead the whole time. Clark’s dad turned to this young man and said, okay, she’s broke now. You’re going to think one day that people are making fun of you, they’re laughing about what’s hanging on her head there but don’t you ever take that off. Don’t you ever take that off. So this young man, who was a Native American, took this team out, beautiful team, she just worked so sweet, she was always paying attention, she just walks along so nice and quiet. He worked her that way for months, but everybody was making fun of him. What have you got hanging on that mares forehead? What is that? Some new jewelry for your horse? So he went out one day and cut that leather, ‘cause this mare was just perfect, cut that leather off. He was driving around in a stone boat and only went about fifty feet, as the story goes, and that mare broke into a dead run and went off into one of those drainage ditches they have over there, the west side of Junction City and broke her neck.

CHARLIE JENSEN: I think I heard about that. I’ll have to tell you one about, are you through?


CHARLIE JENSEN: I’ll have to tell you one about Lynn. He’s come along ways since this day happened.

LYNN MILLER: Please, Charlie, don’t.

CHARLIE JENSEN: But anyway, Ray Drongesen, I don’t know how many of you knew Ray Drongesen, he was pretty outspoken, didn’t mind what he said. He said pretty near anything. So we went over there to help Lynn and of course this is when he first started. And anybody has to start you know. So he had this plow out there and he took this one horse and he put her out on the other side of the tongue and tied her to the tongue, went back and got the other horse, pulled it up alongside of her, then started to hook her up. And old Ray says, what the hell are you doing? Well Lynn says, I’m hooking up this team. Well Ray says, why don’t you hook them up and drive them over the tongue. Lynn says they won’t go over the tongue. Ray says if they wouldn’t go over the tongue, I’d shoot the SOB’s. So we hooked them up, put them together and by God they went over the tongue. So he learnt one there. I guess he did anyway.

LYNN MILLER: Over and over and over again.

DOUG HAMMILL: Lynn, for people that don’t happen to have their leather tools and a hex nut, you can just tie a horseshoe in the forelock.

LYNN MILLER: Now, Bulldog, starting horses out. You start an awful lot of horses.

BULLDOG FRASER: I’m a little bit different than Doc Hammill here. I start my horses out with a Liverpool bit. I bring a horse in, if it’s a green horse that hasn’t been handled at all, I like it fine. I start with one of these but don’t put molasses on it, cause it draws flies. I put the headstall on first, then I start working the harness from the collar on back. They can’t look back and see anything going on. They don’t need to know what’s going on back there. When I get them hooked up, I like to hook up, oh like if I’ve got 4-abreast working out harrowing, I like to hook the colts and green horses on the side. I don’t even drive them. I buck them back to where if they want to run and pull everything with their mouth, go ahead. And also buck them the other way so they can’t fly back. I start them out and of course they’re flopping alongside there, fighting and whatnot. But whatever they do, they do to themselves. And when a horse finally starts slowing down and walking to where he just holds the bit tight, I’ll start bringing him up on the bit. And after I get him up on the bit pretty good, and when I come into any corner, start using the commands gee and haw. They’ll want to fight with your off horse a little bit. I got what I call a tack pad, a piece of leather, drove tacks in and I put it on the off horse. He goes to fighting him and when you say haw he goes haw. Pretty soon he’ll see your corners when you’re coming in. The horse is starting to think. But anything he does to hurt himself, he does to himself. About the time he’s got the left side figured out, I’ll put him on the right. And about two days of this, I slip him in and put him on the lines then, I start driving him. And he doesn’t even realize he’s starting to be driven. And within 3 or 4 days I got a horse going along, he’s just about cured himself of all the problems that create problems. They’re not born with bad habits, they learn them. So if you can hitch your horse to where, if he flies forward, he pulls himself back and the other horses are going right along just as even as can be, if you’ve got him hooked back to the tug on the horses alongside of him. And that’s been the best luck I’ve had and my horses get a good head on them, they handle good. Murray Smith now, does a whale of a job driving polished up horses, but he likes my horses with the heads that they got and that’s the way I do it. But I use a Liverpool bit, hook them down to where they’ve got a pretty good bite on them and when…

LYNN MILLER: Bulldog, will you explain what you mean by hooking down. There’s a bit over here with a curb chain that you can probably show.

BULLDOG: Well, I don’t like this here, they get hooked under the tongue, that’s why I use a Liverpool. This is a Buxton here. This here should have the curb chain right up here. Of course, your headstall’s up here. You can hook your lines here but I don’t like them there on a green horse. All it does is slide up on his mouth and he grins at ya while he’s running. I like them about here where you tip him up a little and when I hook him low like that and I got him buckbacked to the other horse, he’ll fly up, and pretty soon come back, and pretty soon he finds out if I walk along even with him, my jaw don’t hurt. And when he tries to fly back I have him hooked off to the side of the other horse so he can’t come back.

LYNN MILLER: I want to throw something in real quick, and this kind of echos what Doug was talking about and I’ve already said, that we all agree to disagree about lots of things here procedurally. There are lots of different approaches.

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE: I want to ask Bulldog if he uses snaffle Liverpool.

BULLDOG FRASER: No, I gave every one away, I don’t like a snaffle on the place. All you do is pinch their mouth, make ‘em sore and make ‘em mad. You put one in your mouth and let me pinch and you’re going to fight. Try to get inside of their head. You try to think with the horse and take when he’s hurting, and what the hell would you do if he was doing it to you? The same thing, that’s all you got to do is get in their head and get to thinking with them. You don’t have to be mean, you don’t gotta be rough. You hook them so they do it to themselves. I never use a snaffle. Never.

LYNN MILLER: I use them all the time. But that doesn’t make him right and me wrong and vice versa. Just a different approach.

AUDIENCE: You said that you hooked them to the outside of 4-abreast? What if you don’t have 4 horses. What if you have a team and you’re training another one, do you still hook them on one or the other side?

BULLDOG FRASER: Put a three-horse evener in there or tripletree or whatever you’re using and tie that horse back to the horse alongside to his tug. So if he’s going to pull everything, he’s going to pull it with his mouth.

AUDIENCE: Would you put the colt in the middle?

BULLDOG FRASER: No, I’d put him on the outside. Put your two good horses together so if you do get in a run you can circle or sit down and pray or do something. Some days you’re a windshield, and some days you’re a bug.

AUDIENCE: I drive horses on the streets a lot, in parades and things. I’ve got Belgians and I use these Liverpool bits. My good horse on the right, I use him in the top ring all the time. But my horse on the left, he’s a little more green. I put him in the second hole all the time.

BULLDOG FRASER: Okay, right here on this pamphlet, these two grey horses in the middle, a lady bought those horses and they were spoiled, they were ruined. I mean they were ruined. She hauled them in and they came out of the trailer and I asked, what the hell did you bring me lady. You go tie them up and you go up to them and they rear back. And these horses have been in the Calgary parade before I ever seen them. Ernie Prosser, you may have heard of Ernie Prosser. Anyway, he sold them to the lady and she taught them how to run away, and one was hard to catch. They finally captured him and did what they shouldn’t do; tied him up and beat the living hell out of him and I’m telling you what, you couldn’t get near that horse. You can see that I’ve got them in the rig there now but they had had Liverpool bits used clean down on them and I mean they were against that bit all day long and finally, I’d finally got the confidence of the horses so I could work with them. Pretty soon I started moving them up on the bit and they backed off. Just the minute the pressure came off, and Doc had mentioned that a little bit ago, it took the fight out of them, they backed off.

AUDIENCE: When my one horse gets a little bit fidgety I set him down and then when he calms down, I back him off again to give him more head.

BULLDOG FRASER: Right, and then they’ll walk out for you. You get them out and the head gets to bobbing to where you’re making good time. That’s the best mowing team I ever drove in my life right there. Some people up in Winthrop have them now and they want another team just like them.

DOUG HAMMILL: I think there’s an important distinction between a severe bit and leverage. This bicycle chain bit, the mule controlling bit, that I showed you.

BULLDOG FRASER: You need to use that on the guy driving them.

DOUG HAMMILL: You talk about a snaffle bit which hinges in the middle pinching their mouth; you can just about cut their tongue off with this. Your dad had a mare with her tongue just about cut off of her Ed?


DOUG HAMMILL: And he rigged up a cross chain from a tire chain, a smooth one across her nose so he could drive it like a hackamore. He didn’t want to hurt her tongue. Well, leverage down here, the leverage that you gain by hooking up here, this is the same as a straight bar bit. Down here a little more leverage, a little more, a little more. The leverage that you use with this bit only hurts their mouth if you or they put pressure on it.


DOUG HAMMILL: So this bit, Ed has said many times, Ed what do you say about these being severe?

ED TRIPLETT: Well, I say they are no more severe than the guy that’s using those reins.


ED TRIPLETT: That’s what I’ve always said.

BULLDOG FRASER: It don’t take a whole bunch of muscle to drive a team. Any woman in here can drive teams as good as any man. As far as strength wise goes, because if the team is broke, as a matter of fact, I don’t like to drive a broke team, I get bored.

LYNN MILLER: Another question we had; can anyone train horses to work in harness? Now I’ve got mixed feelings about that based on experiences I’ve had over the years. And I would have to say that there are certain people that probably not only can never train a horse, probably in spite of the fact that they want to, may never be able to work with horse.

DON MUSTARD: I was going to say that same thing, there’s some people who should never be around a horse.

BULLDOG FRASER: That’s absolutely right.

Teamsters Roundtable 2001 Part 1

LYNN MILLER: But, that said, I want to make sure and make this point, and you guys can disagree with me on this, we’re not talking about physical strength, we’re not talking necessarily about gender, we’re not talking about size, it’s not necessarily a case of whether or not you’ve grown up with it, inherited it. In this room, there’s a man, my son, who has grown up his entire life, he’s 26 years old, he’s grown up his entire life with the horses working. I couldn’t teach my son to drive horses any better than I could teach my wife to drive a car. I could work with a group of strangers but it’s a whole different chemistry when you’re dealing with your son or your daughter or your wife and you’re trying to teach this. But my son learned as much by osmosis as anything else. And I recall not too many years ago looking out to the field and he was out there raking hay and I realized that he’s as good as I am at this and it’s an inherited thing. He had to like it first of all. But then he paid attention and learned and picked up things and watched, and now he can go and hook a team and do what he needs to do and he learned that through inheritance, whereas it was just a real tough go with a lot of difficult lessons for me in the beginning. However, it’s not as hard now as it was 30 years ago.

ED TRIPLETT: One thing I picked up on early on in life, I had a friend who told me, when I was working in the beef business, he said, there’s lots of ways of doing things. And he said, he helped me so much, but this I’ll never forget. He said, if a man tells you to do something and you don’t understand what he’s telling you, ask him what is the reason. And if he says because I said so, turn your back and walk off and leave him. And these guys here have been telling what they do and give you the reason why and that makes sense to me. There’s many ways of doing things and if you find a better way, then you come tell me and I’ll be glad to change, but until then, this does work for me and they’re learning and until you figure out a better way, I’d like for you to try it this way because it will work.

LYNN MILLER: Clay, starting horses and this question about can anyone train horses to work, not can anyone drive them, but can anyone train them?

CLAY MAIER: Well, I’ve helped a lot of people, I was talking to Lynn the other day about people who have a horse that they’ve been doing other things with all their life. They might be a jumping horse rider or they might be a cowboy and work on a ranch or something and they know that horse pretty well. That helps a lot. They might have a chance at training that horse to drive. They might not be able to train any other one but they might be able to do that one and I could show them and help them with some steps which are probably not a lot unlike what Doc’s talking about. Putting them in a situation where they take little bitty steps and move forward at a real easy pace. But I agree that not everybody can.

LYNN MILLER: What about the differences between horses. In other words, it’s been my experience, certainly reinforced the older I get, that the horse, the very intelligent horse, the one that’s going to try to outsmart you in the training process, most of the time is the better horse when you’re done in the training.

BULLDOG FRASER: That’s what I was saying when I was trying to get in their head.

AUDIENCE: I was going to ask if the Board feels the same as I do that people have personalties and animals have personalties. Some cash and some fit and some guys are smart enough to understand that they are not going to get along with this horse, this horse doesn’t fit. Give him to somebody who he will fit because he doesn’t fit for me or vice versa and I was just curious if you guys feel the same way.

BULLDOG FRASER: That’s right.


DOUG HAMMILL: Pat Parrelli, who does saddle horse clinics, has a school all around the country, made the statement in an article that I read one time that he had written that people who come to his clinics and that’s thousands and thousands of people around the nation and the world, 80 percent of the people have the wrong horse for them. Their spirit or their inherent nature doesn’t match.

CHARLIE JENSEN: The way that I learn my horses to back up is, I drive them to where I want to back up and then I take the lines and I wrap them around the stick there in front of the wagon or forecart just as tight as I can get them and you just leave them there and by golly I’ve seen the time I’ve stood there for five or ten minutes before they back up but they’ll finally come to it and when they do, you don’t hardly need to pull on the lines after that when you want them to back up. I give rides up in Albany and this team I had were really good to back up, and I didn’t think they were as good as they were but anyway, I had to drive into this driveway and back up onto the road and then take off down the road. I drove in there and I swung them over to back up and there was a car coming and it was at night. And I couldn’t stop them, right back on the road I went, boy I thought I had it but the guy slammed on his brakes and stopped in time. But that’s the way I learn them to back up. I don’t know how the rest of you guys do, but that’s the way I learn mine.

CLAY MAIER: There was something that I want to add quickly, a lot of it varies about what you want to accomplish with your horse, about how you go about breaking him to drive. If things that you want to have your horse do in two or three years you’ve got to start thinking about, or if he’s going to do one thing the rest of his life, all of his life, that’s one thing. If he’s going to do a variety of different things you’ve got to have a different approach. So there’s as many approaches depending on what you want to do with him.

AUDIENCE: I have a question of these fellows as I sit here and look at ‘em. You probably wear wristwatches now, but how many of you when you were young fellas working horses all the time wore a wristwatch and worried about what time it was. Time don’t mean a hoot to a horse or a mule. If you got the time to put the hours into it to get it done. But if you’re running on a wristwatch you probably have not accomplished lots of things.

BULLDOG FRASER: It takes a PhD for horses. Post Hole Digger. It’s the only PhD you need for horses.

AUDIENCE: Doug, the bit that you had there in your hand. If I remember right it’s rough on one side and smooth on the other.


AUDIENCE: Okay, what part do you put to the front.

DOUG: I put the smooth part.


DOUG HAMMILL: Yes. We have another question on this bit that I’ve been holding onto and they wanted an explanation of the function of the chain.

LYNN MILLER: Curb chain.

DOUG HAMMILL: Yes, the curb chain.

LYNN MILLER: Do you want me to make a sketch while you’re talking?

DOUG: Yes, why don’t you explain it since I have no idea.

LYNN MILLER: Thanks a lot.

DOUG HAMMILL: That rough part’s on the bit so that if you want a more severe bit then you turn it around and put the rough part. The ridges put more pressure, more pounds per square inch on this ridge on the top of the bars in the mouth than the smooth which distributes the pressure over a larger area.

AUDIENCE: But you start them with the smooth bit.

DOUG HAMMILL: I start them with the smooth bit. I don’t have any problem with Bulldog using leverage on a horse. I often times do use some leverage like he does. I think that one of the most important things that was said here this morning was when Bulldog said set these young horses up so that they do it themselves…

This material represents the first hour of the roundtable. Part 2 to come.