Skidding needn't be an aggravating taskfor you or your
animal-if you'll take the time to follow a few simple
First and foremost, learn to communicate with your mule,
horse, jackass, or whatever . . . then be consistent in
your demands and expectations so that the animal in turn
can develop consistent responses. If you fight or argue
with your beast, the end result will be frustration (for
both of you). Jude and I learned together, since we were
both beginners. I lectured her sternly a few timesand she
treated me rather roughly on a few occasions-but we did
ultimately begin to understand each other and work
Secondly, never force your animal to pull a load that's
beyond its capability. This is the one thing that will
force your beast to quit (maybe for good) before anything
else. (If you've ever pulled an oak log very far, you can
understand the problem . . . and you can see why it's good
to have a spirited beast!)
If your animal doesn't want to pull, find out why . . .
because something is wrong. Check the collar and harness.
Are there sores anywhere (on the animal's shoulders, for
instance) that might indicate rubbing or an improper fit:'
When you attach the chain to the log, wrap it around the
log once and then hook it to itself. This way, it'll pull
tight or "choke" the big timber as the beast steps out. On
a short or lightweight log, choke the small end and let the
butt drag. If the log is exceedingly long or heavy, it's
best to attach the chain to the butt and let the small end
For safety's sake, always stand uphill or to one side of
the log to avoid having the timber smash into you. (This is
a sound practice both when you choke the log and when
you're bringing your beast toward the landing.) If you're
caught standing between the log and the animal as the
animal steps out, you're likely to spend the rest of the
day nursing a sore shin or ankle. Remember: Be alert to
dangerous situations at all times. Use your head. Think!
Also, whenever you're going uphill (or undertaking a heavy
pull) give ole Jude a rest as often as she needs one . . .
she won't hesitate to let you know when (by stopping). Nor
will she hesitate to begin pulling again after she's caught
her breath. (To simplify matters, Cheryl and I felled most
of our trees in the area of forest above the cabin site so
that we could transport our logs downhill. We recommend
that you do likewise.)
The key-remember-is teamwork. Get to know your animal . . .
be patient with him/her . . . and together, the two of you
will be able to accomplish some truly creditable feats.
Jude and I managed several times to move 20- and
26foot-long oak logs (weighing hundreds of pounds) to the
construction site, and we felt right proud of ourselves
afterwards. Jude -hard worker that she ishumbly accepted a
can of oats as her pay for the day. -BJ.