"Preventing Wrecks"

The following link is an article written by Doc Hammill, DVM.
I was browsing the internet and happened to come across this terrific article.  Ten Common Wrecks with Driving Horses: Their Causes and Prevention offers safety tips to avoid an accident. 
In my opinion, there are two types of Teamsters ~ the ones that have already had an accident or the ones that will have an accident.  I have had a team of Percheron Geldings spook and run while hitched to a ground driven manure spreader.  I was not fully prepared for this moment.  The manure spreader was heavily loader and as soon as I engaged the spreader, it sounded like a machine gun going off!  That was enough to set the horses into panic mode.  I was in panic mode also, but I never let loose of the lines.  I quickly accessed my options and immediately headed the horses to a muddy section of the field and put them in a circle to bring them to a stop.  Even the safest team can surprise you.  You must always be ahead of the horse and anticipate their actions.  
Also, I have been fortunate to have some of the Experienced Teamsters in our club make suggestions to improve my driving skills, help make harness adjustment and recommendations, and equipment adjustments.  Many of their suggestions are listed in Doc's article.  I know many of the "Experienced Teamsters" have already experienced or witnessed what I wish to avoid!  So, if someone offers you advice, think about it. Take it for what it's worth.
                                                                                     ~ Cheryl Sgarrella 
It's time to hitch and saddle
horses and mules!

It’s time to get ready for the first activities of 2017 and you are reviewing your list of things not to forget. At the top of that list should be a current Coggins test, now that Virginia regulations are requiring a coggins test for all events where horses gather.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced that effective March 2, 2011, an updated regulation will take effect regarding the Coggins test for equine infectious anemia. The updated regulation specifies that “all horses assembled at a show, fair, race meet or other such function or participating in any activity on properties where horses belonging to different owners may come into contact with each other in Virginia must be accompanied by a report of an official negative test for equine infectious anemia.” For years horse owners have been required to have a valid Coggins test when horses are assembled, and the updated regulation clarifies this. Assembly of horses for a trail ride on public property such as a state park is an example of an activity requiring horse owners to have a valid Coggins report with them.

As of  March 2, 2014, rangers in state and national parks may check for Coggins papers, and owners without valid test reports could be charged with a Class I Misdemeanor and asked to leave the park. As is currently the case under existing regulations, owners presenting fraudulent paperwork can be charged with civil penalties as well.

“Equine Infectious Anemia is a serious disease,” said Dr. Richard Wilkes, VDACS State Veterinarian. “It affects all members of the equine species and is found in nearly every country of the world. All infected horses, even those that are asymptomatic, become carriers and are infectious for life. Infected animals must either be destroyed or remain permanently isolated from other equines to prevent transmission. The change in regulation is not drastic, but it is important and horse owners need to take seriously the need for a valid Coggins test each year prior to any assemblage with other equines.” Wilkes says that horse owners may get a Coggins test by contacting their local large animal veterinarian. They routinely pull blood samples and submit them for Coggins testing.

For more information, horse owners should contact their veterinarian or VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483.

Have you ever thought about setting off on a journey with your team and wagon?

Bob Skelding did just that in August 2008 with his four horses hooked to his homemade RV wagon! Lancaster Farming Publication recently published this article detailing Bob's preparation for his journey, the unfortunate accident in which he suffered personal injury, the complete lose of his wagon and two horses.  The publication will feature more of Bob's story in an upcoming issue.  Bob Skelding's website and blog: