MSU vet students experience draft horse driving

6 03 2007

Bas-relief, originally uploaded by danielguip.

Animal Science 141 is more about the warm gloves than the notebooks, more about remembering to bring a hat than a pen.

We’re talking draft-horse driving, and a Michigan State University class last month hitched students with horses in an outdoor laboratory despite the February cold.

The lead teacher is listed as Cara O’Connor, but let’s face it: The head instructor is really Colonel, a 12-year-old Belgian draft horse with hooves the size of pasta bowls.

Colonel was handing out lessons that morning at the MSU Horse Research and Teaching Center, where the windchill hit 9 degrees.

The gelding pulled his head back every time a student tried to slip a bit into his mouth. It wasn’t much of a flinch.

He moved only about an inch, just enough to frustrate the nearby human standing on a step stool.

“If you don’t do it right, he won’t let you do it,” 22-year-old lab assistant Jordan Hewitt said, coaching the student. “See how it’s hurting his ear? He doesn’t like it.”

The class is in its fourth year at MSU, and there are five heavy horses and about as many students participating in the semester that began in January.

“I love these guys,” said pre-veterinary student Angie Davison, who drove a horse cart for the first time that day. “I’m set on getting one.”

A horse such as Colonel costs close to $5,000.

Davison, 18, climbed into the cart to sit next to Hewitt. Hewitt handed her the reins.

“This pony belongs to you,” she said.

Davison gripped the reins too loosely at first. They flopped around, offering no control over the 1,960-pound horse in front of her. She choked up on them so she could feel when Colonel tugged with his muzzle.

“Colonel,” Davison said, letting the horse know she was talking to him and no one else. “Step up.”

And with that, Colonel moved forward across the packed snow.

All the driving horses know their names, as well as a handful of verbal commands such as “gee” for right, “haw” for left and the all-important “whoa.”

Davison drove Colonel in a large loop around the research grounds. It amounted to less than a quarter mile. At the end, she jumped down onto the snow, exhilarated by the experience of control.

“So many things can go wrong,” she said, “and you’re kind of scared.”

Her classmate Tracy Petzke, 22, nodded.

“It’s crazy that an animal that big will listen to commands,” Petzke said.

Many of the students hope to be veterinarians. They sign up to work with the draft horses for the hands-on experience and simply to be around animals.

Kallie Ashcraft, 18, has ridden horses since she was 9 and misses them now that she’s at MSU. Class time is her chance to be near the animal she loves, and she has her favorite: Bob, an older black Percheron gelding.

Bob didn’t get picked to drive and resented every moment of it, banging his hoof against the wall of his stall in protest.

Each horse has a personality. Greta is grumpy, Lucky plays with zippers and tassels, and Bob, well, Bob is quirky. He doesn’t like to be separated from Buck, who did get picked to drive that day.

Like a family dog or cat, Bob is quick to show he’s a character, and that’s what Ashcraft likes about him.

“I live in the dorm, so I can’t have a pet anymore,” she said. “I like being out with the horses.”

Link

About these ads

Actions

Information

3 responses

6 03 2007
University Update

MSU Vet Students Experience Draft Horse Driving

19 10 2010
Maureen Daley

Hello, I have a belgin draft horse who is a 15 year old gelding that i recently purchased. His name is Colonel and all we know about him is that he taught younger drafts to drive. I think this is the same horse named Colonel that you had at MSU up until 2007. Do you have any pictures of Colonel without his harness and do you have any articles you could send me. By the way, if it is the same Draft horse, he is living at a beuatiful barn in Akron NY (outside Buffalo) he is retired and only rides occasionally. He is loved by all. Hope to hear back. Sincerely, Maureen Daley

19 10 2010
Maureen Daley

Hello, I have a belgin draft horse who is a 15 year old gelding that i recently purchased. His name is Colonel and all we know about him is that he taught younger drafts to drive. I think this is the same horse named Colonel that you had at MSU up until 2007. Do you have any pictures of Colonel without his harness and do you have any articles you could send me. By the way, if it is the same Draft horse, he is living at a beuatiful barn in Akron NY (outside Buffalo) he is retired and only rides occasionally. He is loved by all. Hope to hear back. Sincerely, Maureen Daley

Reply Leave a comment
Click here to cancel reply.
Name (required)

E-mail (required)

Website

Notify me of follow-up comments via email.

Notify me of new posts via email.

——————————————————————————–
This month’s posts
March 2007 S M T W T F S
« Feb Apr »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most popular posts today
Horse colour demystified: the dun gene
Horse colour demystified: the basics
Horse teeth and climate change
16 reasons to date a horseback rider
Five famous black horses
MSU vet students experience draft horse driving
The photography of Tim Flach
World’s largest horses
Sable Island horse photos at Dutesco Art
Quiz: How well do you understand horse talk?
Bridlepath Tags
Barbaro Blogging Contests DIY Donkeys and Mules Draft Horses Equestrian Sports Equine Science & Health History Horse Books Horse Breeding Horse Photos Horse Racing Horse Rescue Horses in Art Horses in the Movies Horses in the News Horse Slaughter Horses on Stamps Horses on TV Horse Videos Journeys Miniature Horses Paranormal Shopping Spookies! Uncategorized Whimsy Wild/Feral Horses Zebras Archives
May 2008 (10)
December 2007 (2)
September 2007 (3)
August 2007 (25)
June 2007 (30)
May 2007 (55)
April 2007 (57)
March 2007 (83)
February 2007 (63)
January 2007 (74)
December 2006 (35)
November 2006 (35)
October 2006 (55)
September 2006 (31)
August 2006 (47)
July 2006 (24)
June 2006 (11)
May 2006 (25)
Blogging

Bloggy Award

Contents Matter

Link Stumbler

OfCourse.us

Sphere

Sports Blog Catalog

Horse Blogs
Adam Broom: a passion for showjumping
Barefoot Hoof Care
BarnGoddess
Cassie’s Story
Death by Photography
Don’t Look Back
Draconia Keep Morgans
Dressage Mom
enlightened horsemanship through touch
Equine Research Blog
Equine spirit…grazing in the meadow of creativity!!
EquineNorthNet
Equss Palaverous
EQUUS
Equus Caballus
Experiments in Equine Training
Fran Jurga’s “HoofBlog”: News from Hoofcare & Lameness Journal
Fugly Horse of the Day
Hinny Whisperer
HolaMole’
Hoofbeats
Horse Approved
Horse Blogs
Horse Training Success
Horses Diary
Horseshues
I Gallop On
Iron Bess Flint
Jane Savoie
Karen’s EasyCare & Endurance Musings
Karen’s Horse Paintings Blog
Keep Your Heels Down!
Kentucky World Equestrian Games
Kristina Meyer
Learning Horses
Leslie Town Photography
Memphis Horses
Merriewold Morgans
Midwest Horse
MiKael’s Mania – Arabian Horses
Mini Equus
momoxie
Mustang & Cowboys
My Friend Shah
Nuzzling Muzzles
Of Horses And Art
Our First Horse
Out of the Thicket
Paso Fino, puro de aqui
petArtistWithPeaches
Pony Tail Club
Racebook Insider
Real Horses Weigh A Ton
Red Pony Farm
Ridingfields Square
Road to who knows where…
Rollestone Ramblings
Scary’s West
Single Leaf Equestrian Photography
Smells Horsey
Southern Wagons Horse Power Bluff to Picton 2007
Suisan
Teachings of the Horse
Tehachapi Horse Blog
The Aspiring Horseplayer
The Equestrian Vagabond
The Equus Ink
The Eventing Blog
The Homeless Equestrian
The Professional Wafflings of an Equestrian Trainer
The story of a PMU mare…
Tracey’s random ramblings: tales from the trail
Transylvanian Horseman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 337 other followers

%d bloggers like this: