Glossary of Terms for Plowing with Horses

Special Note: This glossary originally accompanied the article Walking Plows: Types of Plows and Choosing Equipmentin the May/June 1974 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. 

BACKBAND: A wide band, usually made of heavy canvas material, which is hooked to the traces to hold them up and in place.
BALK: A strip or ridge of land left unplowed.
BEAM: The part of the plow by which it is pulled or drawn.
BELLYBAND: A wide band hooked to the traces, usually constructed of heavy canvas material, which goes under the belly of the animal to help hold the harness in place.
BIT: A metal contrivance on the bridle which goes in the animal’s mouth to control him.
A bridle fitted with “blinds” or “blinkers” to prevent a draft animal from being distracted by objects in his side vision.
BULL TONGUE: A plow point shaped like a large tongue which goes on a Georgia Stock. Also known as a “scooter”.
CLEVIS (CROOKED AND STRAIGHT): An iron gadget for hooking the singletree to the beam.
COLLAR:. The part of the harness that fits over the shoulders of the animal, designed to distribute the drag of the load being drawn.
DOUBLETREE: A crosspiece with a singletree attached to each end, used when two animals are harnessed at once.
DRAFT: The load which is being drawn.
FENDER: An iron guard to keep excessive dirt from covering small plants.
FLATBREAK: A process of breaking land by using the turning plow, after which the field is usually left to lay” for a period of time before being rowed up.
FROG: A metal piece – sometimes called a standard – which holds the wing and point onto the plow.
FURROW: A trench made in the ground by the plow.
GEE!  A command to an animal meaning, “Go to the right.”
GEORGIA STOCK: A plow used for working the crop. It has interchangeable points and/or sweeps.
GIDDUP! A command to an animal to “get going”. The phrase “come up” is also used in the same way.
HALF-SHOVEL: A plow attached to the Georgia stock which accomplishes about the same thing as a turning plow.
HAMES: The curved bars which hook onto a horse collar, and to which the traces are fastened.
HAME STRINGS: Leather straps with buckles to fasten the hames onto the collar.
HARNESS: The work gear of the plow animal.
HARROW: A flat iron rig with teeth used to smooth the lumps and rough spots out of plowed land.
HAW! A command meaning, “Go to the left.”
HEEL BOLTS: Bolts used to secure sweeps to a plow’s foot.
LANDSIDE: A part of the plow bottom: a sidepiece opposite the moldboard, for guiding the plow and resisting the side pressure caused by the turning of the furrow.
LAY BY: To plow a crop for the last time.
LOGGERHEAD: An iron contrivance which hooks trace chains to the hames.
MIDDLEBREAKER: A plow with an additional moldboard to throw up the dirt equally on both sides. Also called a middlebuster or lister.
MOLDBOARD: A curved plate of iron (originally of wood) behind the plowshare, which continuously turns over a strip of sod – cut loose by the share – during the plowing operation.
PLOW: An implement used to make furrows in and turn over the earth. Its essential parts are a share to break the ground, a moldboard to turn the soil, a beam by which to draw the implement and handles to guide it. When walking plows were common, some of the popular brands were John Deere, Avery and Oliver.
PLOW LINES: Two ropes which pass through loops on the hames and which are attached to the pulling animal’s bridle to guide it.
PLOWSHARE: The point of a plow. . . the part which breaks the ground. The upper part of the plowshare and the moldboard act as a single clirve to invert the furrow slice. In passing over this ‘surface the strip of earth is twisted and broken and the soil is pulverized, mixed and aerated.
SINGLETREE: The pivoted or swinging bar to which the traces of a draft animal’s harness are fixed. Also called “swingletree” or “whippletree.”
STOCK: The frame of the plow.
SWEEP: A metal plate which throws loose dirt about plants during cultivation and levels ridges between rows of growing crops.
SWIVEL PLOW: A variation of the walking plow designed to turn all furrows one way as the operator plows back and forth, instead of around and around, a piece of land.
TERRACE: A high row made with the turning plow by plowing back and forth while always throwing the dirt to the row. Done on sloping or hilly ground to prevent soil erosion by water (heavy rains, etc.).
TRACES Two straps, chains or ropes of harness extending from the collar to the singletree.
TURNING PLOW: The plow which breaks or turns the earth . . . also called breaking or bar plow.
WHOA! A command meaning “stop” . . . and a good place for me to end this glossary of plow terms.  

Need Help? Call 1-800-234-3368