| Animal traction |
|4. Training draft animals|
Some animal traction extension programs sell trained animals to farmers or encourage systems of custom or contract training, where the farmer pays a professional to do the training. However, these options are often not available, and many, if not most, farmers are involved in the training of their own animals.
Those who instruct these farmers in animal traction should keep in mind that many of them are already familiar with basic care and handling of animals, though the animals may not be used for traction purposes. In fact, farmers may be more knowledgeable about particularities of a local breed or individual animal than the instructor; in many cases the teaching can go both ways. Also, instructors who become involved in animal training should always remember that their goal is to include farmers in every operation and make them do the training. Farmers quickly become confident trainers when they are shown tools and techniques that give them sure controls over the animals.
This chapter describes one program for training cattle, and another for horses, donkeys, and mules. The programs described are not the only ones possible, but are accepted as standard by many experienced trainers. They are direct, effective, and pose minimal threat of injury to trainers and animals.
An important step in training animals is getting them used to harness. Sometimes it may be helpful or necessary for the reader to refer to Chapter 5, Harnessing, before reading this chapter.