One of the most striking aspects of this development is the strength and confidence that comes from this communal way of living. While it is impressive to build a barn in a day it seems even more impressive to imagine building four barns or six, and all the rest of the needs of a community. For these young Amish families the vision of a shared agricultural community is strong, and clear.
For about the last two years I have been pursuing something I call “no pressure driving.” It is not a new idea, and I know Steve Bowers, as well as others, talked about the same principles. I would like to lay out what it means to me, how I go about it, and what I think the benefits are. Simply put: there is no pressure on the lines that is not intended to be a signal to the working horses or mules. Many of us have been taught (myself included) that a certain amount of constant pressure is needed to successfully drive workhorses. Over the years we sought ways to teach our animals to work with a ‘light’ mouth. It was easier on the arms, it seemed nicer for the horses, and it made driving more accessible to folks who may have been told they weren’t strong enough to drive work horses.
I always enjoy Dr. Hammill’s articles on safety and training for workhorses. His words are invaluable encouragement and protection for beginning farmers and their horses. I generally agreed with everything he said in the “Ten Common Wrecks with Driving Horses” article in the Fall 2006 SFJ. I would like to add a few further thoughts on some of them.