Cover Image
close this book Animal traction
View the document About this manual
View the document About the author
View the document Acknowledgments
close this folder 1. Introduction
View the document What is animal traction?
View the document History of animal traction
View the document Why use animal traction?
View the document Some considerations
View the document How can animal traction be used?
View the document Before beginning: what do you need to know?
close this folder 2. Draft animal selection
View the document Popular draft animals
View the document Determining power requirements
View the document General rules concerning power requirements
View the document Method for determining size of the hitch
View the document Determining weights of animals
View the document Selection of individual draft animals
View the document Conformation
View the document Temperament
close this folder 3. Animal husbandry
View the document Sheller
View the document Nutrition
View the document Grooming
View the document Minor medical problems and first aid
close this folder 4. Training draft animals
View the document Before training begins
View the document General comments on training procedure
View the document Training cattle
View the document Program for training cattle
View the document Training horses, donkeys and mules
View the document Program for training horses, donkeys and mules
close this folder 5. Yokes and harnesses
View the document Yokes and harnesses for cattle
View the document Yokes and harnesses for horses, donkeys and mules
View the document How to harness a horse, donkey or mule
View the document Steering systems
View the document Breeching harness
close this folder 6. Hitches
View the document Safety rules
View the document Implement hitches
View the document Vehicle hitches
View the document 7. Field operations and implements
close this folder 8. Economic and technical assistance
View the document Farm planning assistance
View the document Equipment options
View the document Credit for equipment
View the document Credit for animals
View the document Procedures and controls
close this folder 9. Animal traction extension
View the document Extension education
View the document Appendix A: Animal power
close this folder Appendix B: Animal nutrition
View the document Energy needs: bovine animals
View the document Energy needs: equine animals
View the document Nutrient needs of draft animals: protein, minerals, vitamins
View the document Feeds and feed composition
View the document Calculating a ration
View the document Recommended rations and feeding practices
close this folder Appendix C: Disease recognition and control
View the document Parasites and parasitic disease
View the document Appendix D: Workshop and spare parts inventory
View the document Appendix E: Animal traction instruction forms
View the document Appendix F: Animal breeds used for power
View the document Bibliography
View the document Resources
View the document GIossary

Training horses, donkeys and mules


Whether staked out or corralled, these animals are generally caught using very simple methods. Approached slowly and spoken to softly, or offered a handful of grain, they rarely refuse to be taken by the halter and led. They are easily cornered in a corral and grabbed by the halter, or by the nose and ear; in some cases, a rope may be slipped over the animal's head.


Cross ties are ropes which used to immobilize a horse or donkey in a standing position. To make cross ties, fasten two pieces of rope one meter long to each of two posts or trees which are spaced two meters apart. Fasten the ropes to the halter, one at each side, drawing them tight so the animal cannot move its head.


To immobilize the animal, lift one of its legs, squeeze the tendon above the fetlock and pull the leg upward. Thus forced to stand on three legs, the animal cannot move.

If working alone, the trainer can use a belt or rope to hold one of the front feet. The animal will not fall and will remain still while being treated for ticks or wounds. It is especially useful if one of the animal's feet must be kept in a bucket of water.

Casting an Equine

Casting a horse or donkey by pulling the hind legs out from under it is best accomplished in the following manner:

• Choose soft terrain.

• Hold the animal in front with cross-ties, or by a strong lead rope or "twitch", which is a loop attached to a short handle.

• To apply the switch, put the loop over the muzzle and twist until very secure.

• Tie a fixed loop in the center of a long rope, and fit the loop around the animal's neck like a collar. The knot rests on the withers and the two ends are parted over the back, one on each side, and brought along the flanks and down between the hind legs. The right-hand rope circles behind the right pastern and is brought forward along the animal's right side. The left-hand rope is used in a similar fashion on the left side.

Using a Twitch

Casting a Horse

• People on either side of the animal pull ropes, "walking" the rear legs forward until the animal sinks gently into a sitting position.

Rope burns caused by the casting method can be reduced by running the ropes through anklets attached to the animal's feet. Further advantage can be established by placing a surcingle around the girth of the animal and feeding the ends of the draw-ropes through the support rings.

Once the animal is cast, special care should be taken to ensure that its head is kept low and outstretched; serious neck and back injuries may result when a horse or donkey is allowed to raise its head once it is on its side.

Proper control of the legs will ensure that the animal does not injure itself or the people around it. Immobilize the hind leg by attaching a rope above the pastern, bringing it around the neck and chest and then locking it behind the hock and drawing it up. Control a foreleg by pulling it up into the chest either by hand or with rope. Limbs not drawn up should be bound together at the fetlock with soft rope. In no case should a leg be pinned by having someone sit on it.

Tying the Legs