Friday, September 10, 2010

Using a horse drawn disk

Well, Today I did it.  I made use of a horse drawn disk that my friend Pat had.  I had mowed the field short, and then, miraculously, it rained.  We got 2 good days of rain, which this dry black clay ground needed desperately.  So ... it was time to get the disk working!  :)

An empty, short, field, ready to be disked!

This morning started by giving the girls a big scoop of oats.  I knew that I was going to have them working hard, so I made sure they had some fuel in their tanks.  After I gave them their oats, I finished attaching the pole to the disk.  I then moved it out to the field where we would be working.  About that time, my friend Pat showed up.  So we got the horses, harnessed them up, and then figured out how to hitch them to the harrow.  I ended up having to add 6 inch tug extensions to each tug in order to make things work.  Everything was secure, and it was time for the initial pull.  For the first pull, I didn't angle the disk, I kept it straight to make it as easy as possible for them.  They had no problems stepping out, and since they seemed to be feeling their oats, I adjusted the angle quickly and watched the disk do it's job.

After doing a complete loop, I stopped, and let Pat have a turn while I ran inside to get the camera.  Here are a few shots of Pat on the disk.

Here they come!

The girls did real good for Pat.  I admire Pat's skills at communicating with the team!

I'm ready to get going.  I don't think the girls were quite as happy about it.  :)
After 2 laps, Pat let me take over.  The girls were having a little bit of trouble stepping off for me.  I think they've been spoiled with light wagons and sleds.  When I would step them off, they would barely shift their weight forward, and when nothing happened, they would just stand there.  Needless to say, they had me sounding pretty crazy as I tried and tried to coax them into stepping out.

One thing I've noticed when driving a team, is that getting them to step out together is VITAL!  I had many times today where I'd tell them to step out, and only one of them would.  When the one that stepped out would feel the pressure, she would stop, right as the other horse would step out.  This got a tad annoying.  Like a bad teeter totter while I wasn't going anywhere.

I should probably note that I was using new bits on the harnesses today.  I put straight shaft liverpool bits on the team harness and I am SOOOOO happy with them.  The girls were much more responsive today with them.  The ones I got have the 2 round loops for snaps, or narrow buckle lines.  They are awesome.  Very happy to be using them.

Stepping out with the harrow
Pam and Rachel are a pretty impressive match.
The first thing I noticed while working, was how annoying excess lines are.  For my first lap, I just tied the ends in a knot and threw them over my shoulders.  This worked at first, but soon it was just rubbing on the back of my neck, which got uncomfortable and annoying.  I ended up placing the ends under my butt on the seat.  I found that I had to keep just the very ends under, because I needed a lot of the lines for making the big U turns I was making to keep the disk moving.

Off we go!
Heading down a small incline
I also got to watch the dynamics between the horses.  Rachel is a go getter.  She steps out hard, and she gets into it.  Pam sits a bit more on her heels and seems to only move when she has to.  It was obvious who was doing the work after 10 minutes or so.  Rachel built up a lather on her breeching strap right away.  You could also see her getting drenched with sweat.  Pam?  Not so much.  As time went on, and Rachel got more tired, they matched much better.  When Rachel stopped really stepping into the disk, she matched Pam much better.  I think I'd much rather have Pam match Rachel though.  :)  Rachel is a dream horse.  She's so good with this stuff.  She is just laid back, relaxed, and does what she's asked.  You couldn't ask for more from her.  Pam is getting better.  She needs miles on her, and this stuff is just what the doctor ordered!

A rear view
Another row ... GET UP PAM!!!
The ride on the disk was pretty bouncy.  After Pat's two rides, he joked that you needed to have a chiropractor ready at the end of a day on that disk.  If both sides were biting in to the ground together, it was very smooth.  However, sometimes the two sides would trade biting into the ground, this would make you rock back and forth.  I definitely got a good abdominal workout.

I kept at it, and started giving the girls a break every 10 minutes.  They would get pretty winded, and as Pam started working more, she started to sweat real good.  I was very impressed with how well they were getting at coming around in turns.  It was neat to watch them figure out what I wanted, and do it when I asked for it.  It seemed like no time before this small 2 acre field was done.  I have another 4 acre field that needs to be done, but I decided to give the girls a rest.  I have to keep reminding my self that they are in as good a shape as I am.  I can't expect them to go from no work, to a full day of farm work in one day.  I will probably hook them up again tomorrow and do some more.  They sure did stand good on those breaks though!!!  They stood perfectly still and didn't move at all when I let them rest.
All done with this one.

After we were done, I unhitched the girls from the disk, and then ground drove them back to the house so I could get the harnesses off them.  They were definitely hot and sweaty!!

We're tired!  How 'bout you get this crap off us!!!
After getting the harnesses off them, I had some compassion on them and led them over to the hose.  I then sprayed them down real good with the hose.  Rachel loved it!  She melted and just leaned into it.  Pam was conflicted.  You could see her mentally thinking "wow ... this feels good ... WAIT ... THAT NOISE WAS SCARY THOUGH ... but mmmmmmm ... so good feeling".  :)  After I sprayed them down, I used the squeegee on them, and then left them to dry for a few minutes.
Whew!  We're glad that's over!!!
All in all, it was pretty awesome.  It's really cool to me to use the horses to do this kind of thing.  Yes, a tractor cab would be MUCH more comfortable, but I get a bit of satisfaction in knowing that I'm doing something that not a lot of people know how to do.  I also love knowing that my horses are actually contributing to the farm, and not just taking feed from it.  After a few more sessions like today, the girls will be a pretty steady team!  I'm hoping to use them for christmas wagon rides, so the more I can do with them now, the better!

Aren't you glad you read to the end?  As a reward, here's a video clip!


  1. WOW, I'm so proud of you and for you and the girls! I honestly can say I knew you when and Rachel too :)

  2. awesome Tim! .. they look great. Claire

  3. hey tim looks real finally out of town completely. a while back i made a triangle shaped spike harrow out of 1 dozer wear bar and 25 or 30 railroad spikes it works real good i put a seat on it and found that when a tooth finds a rock just under the ground it will roll it up and out thereby launching the rider like a catapult loads of fun, but now i pull it behind a light 2 wheel cart less fun but less hospital trips also have fun and keep em sweaty.

  4. I have an old disk like this one in the rebuild process. I would love to have some close up pictures of this one.
    Thanks, Edward Tucker, Pine Bluff, Arkansas

  5. Hey Edward, you've got mail. I'll send you the full size pictures of what I have. I know where this disc is, so if you need a particular shot, I can try to get you a picture.

  6. where can i by a disc like that one? thanks.

  7. Pat saw that disk in a field and stopped and asked the owner to sell it. I've never seen one like it.