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one goat lagging behind

2152 Views 16 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Bob Jones

this is a question for cart goat people.

I'm training a pair of goats to become cart goats. I chose these two because they have similar temperaments and are similar in rank (middle ranked). They are also father and son.

After a few training hikes one of them - Oliver, the father - still lags behind about on head length. Although he's slightly bigger than Lucky and has longer legs, his basic walk seems to be slower than Lucky's.

I worked with both of them, prompting Oliver to catch up and hold this position and also - very carefully because I don't want to ruin his will to work - slowing Lucky down a bit. But it's a constant fine-tuning.

Oliver walks at the off-position, Lucky at nigh. I've already tried to reverse that with a worse result. Oliver is also more easily spooked (why I placed him "off", away from traffic) so he also sometimes stops to evaluate something the spookes him. Lucky feels more secure directly at my side and keeps going. When I changed their positions, Lucky became more insecure, Oliver remained as spooky as before and so they both come to a stand-still much more often. Both are connected with a short belt at their collars while I guide them with halters.

Is this something that will get better with more training? When I add something for them to pull? Right now I take them out on walks only to get them accustomed to being out on their own and respond to my commands.

Should I take another goat that fits better to Lucky's speed? Lucky needs to work, he's the goat that had UC problems last year and I have to manage his weight with exercise during the winter. Most of the other goats that would have the temperment to be trained as cart goats are considerably bigger than him, therefore faster.

I took Oliver out last winter to pull a travois and he didn't shirk the work.

My aim is to keep walking besides them and to use all their strength for pulling loads. I most likely will not train them to be driven from behind unless this would help to correct Oliver's problem.
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As you know, I don't know nuthin. But that doesn't stop me from contributing ;-)

When we hike up Mill Creek when the dogs are allowed to be off leash, we all walk at the same pace. This is accomplished by having them all tied together.

So if they are side by side and one is lagging, I would put one more goat in front and string the cart goats to him. Then when you lead the lead goat, everyone follows at the same pace.

I would think in time the cart goats would learn to walk together.
nobody else with an idea?
I don't know much about training cart goats but on the trail they learn to match the pace to keep from running to catch up all the time.
Hello Rex,

he matches the pace, except when Lucky walks faster to get home (but even then he catches up within seconds while maintaining his position), he simply won't stay nose to nose.
I just watched a oxen training video (Drew Conroy - Training Oxen) and it seems that it's training, training, training. In almost every untrained oxen team one ox is lagging.
The problem with a lagging animal in a hitch is that the one out front ends up doing all the work. This rewards the animal that is lagging and can eventually discourage the one who troops ahead. I'm afraid I've never trained a pair of goats to pull, so I am not the expert on getting them to even up. You do want your animals to learn to walk together though. I'm sure with enough training, this could be accomplished, but it might be easier to find goats that work together more naturally. With horses, the one that lagged got a little flick on the tail with the whip to make him step up. But if you're leading the goats, I'm not sure I have any ideas. I'm sorry. We need a goat teamster!
The big OX and Mule team drivers in the old west used bull whips. I guess now we know what they were for.

I use a goad to encourage Oliver to step up. But I will switch to a horse buggy whip - more flexibel and you can give a short "smack" much easier.

Drew Conroy shows while training oxen in the yoke to encourage the lagging one while making the faster one walk a bit slower.

I was out today with a double travois - I'll explain that later with a short video, not a very usefull thing - and didn't take the goad with me. I figured that I would have my hands full with adjusting the travois, looking after the goats, after the traffic (we had to walk almost 30 min. along the road), checking the load (fir branches), etc. so I left it at home.

Both walked willingly and a bit nervous with the travois poles on their sides. Lucky faster than Oliver, as usual.

Oliver responds very nice to a fine pull on the rope halter to step up.

And as soon as we were off the street and I didn't have to look out for the traffic and could direct my attention more towards how the goats performed I used a trick I read in "Farming with horses" on how to correct a pushy (the author called it rude) horse. He writes not to try to speed up the lagging horse because if the faster horse then again walks faster, the lagging one will never be able to catch up. Instead you make the faster horse walk more slowly, either through taking up the reins or tying a rope from the bit of the faster horse to the collar of the lagging horse. The faster horse will therefore give himself a tug on the bit every time it speeds up.

I did a similar thing: I tied Lucky's lead rope to the back cross of Oliver's saddle (I had the saddles on them to have something to hook the travois to), just long enough that he could walk unhindered nose to nose with Oliver but would give himself a tug on the nose as soon as he sped up.

They were walking nose to nose over long distances, at Oliver's pace and Lucky didn't seem too unhappy with that. Only when it came close to home he started to pull against the halter some more.

I'll work with the speeding up/slowing down, too, as soon as I have a more flexible whip.

But this today looked nice. Both walking together, every goat pulling its share of the load.
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sorry, no video about the "double travois". I pressed the wrong button on my new phone and it didn't record :(
It's a nice idea about slowing down the faster animal. I'll have to keep that tip in mind when I train future teams. I like the idea of tying the bit to the collar.
Hello Sabine,

It sounds like you are doing well with your team. Sometimes if I have a pair with one lagging behind the other ,I just go ahead and hitch them in the double shafts without a cart . The shafts just drag on the ground ,it is a good way to keep them together on the same pace. But sometimes , no matter what you do two goats just don't work well together. I have trained a few goats that would not work together no matter what. The more you work with them the better.

I like your double travois idea. It looks like it should work .

Happy driving. Bambi
Hello Bambi,

I was/am concerned that they wouldn't work well together - time will tell. But on the other hand I don't want to give up too early.

That's the reason I came up with the double travois: I wanted them not only to walk together but to work together, make them see the reason behind I was asking from them.

As I need to convert my garten cart and sew/make the collar harness, this was an easier way to get them that work.
On a properly rigged cart, both goats have to share the load because the rear cross piece swivels. Although one may lag, the actual load is the same, otherwise the crosspiece would continue to rotate.

You can distribute a load between unmatched animals by adjusting the leverage on one side or the other.

The front cross piece is stationary and attached to the harness or halter so that if one lags it pulls it back into position. so tightening the lead to the front cross piece will pull the animal ahead more. The lead should be tight enough so that if the animal stands still while the other pulls, he is pulled before the rear cross bar locks up.
I don't know, Bob. When I had a horse lagging, the traces were taught on the horse moving ahead and they were slack on the lagger once the whiffletree was angled as far as it could go (it can't spin indefinitely--there's a wagon in the way). It wasn't a huge difference, but it was enough to give the lazy horse a nice break. The pole ran through a ring on the neck yoke, leaving some play so that a horse could indeed lag without being pulled forward in the harness (to a point). There is a limit to how much one can lag, but as far as I'm aware, unless you have an extremely tight hitch, there will always be enough play to allow one animal to avoid at least some of his share.

Also, if one horse is having to be dragged forward in the harness, think about who is doing the dragging: the other horse, who is now pulling not only his share of the wagonload, but also the weight of the balky horse. This, obviously, is not a working situation as you'll soon end up with two balky animals.
Well, those are the theories behind the design.
The wiffletree locking is the limit, as mentioned.
If the design was perfect, you wouldn't need a driver.

The rest is in execution. And if the animal doesn't pull his load you have an execution ;-)

Rig it so that if he lags an inch it pulls two inches forward on the halter, that will improve the theoretical biological PID loop.
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