Thursday, December 31, 2009

Track Issues Day 19

The above photo shows a good view of the whole set-up of harness, shafts and sleigh. You can zoom in by clicking on it (if it's in a good mood). My passengers wished to remain anonymous so they dove for cover when the camera came out.

The snow is piling up here and I'm floundering around, trying to find the best way to keep the sleigh track easy for CJ. The snowblowing worked for part of the track but I didn't attempt the uphill portion of the track (the snowblower is mounted on the back of the tractor, so you have to drive backwards to snowblow). So a friend came over with her two skidoos and we roared around the rest of the track four times to pack down the snow in a wide track.

The next day, I led CJ along the skidoo track and found he punched through every second step, but with repeated use he'll beat down a path for his hooves. The day after that it snowed two inches, so I walked the whole track to make a trail right in the middle of the track. CJ follows any little track in fresh snow rather than picking his own route, so with my boot track I figured he'd follow and that would keep the sleigh in the middle of the track instead of riding up into the deep snow. It worked! When Dad and I drove him yesterday with the sleigh, he followed my tracks and I had very little correcting to do with the steering.

I have kept one section of track untouched except by CJ and the sleigh. I've decided that's the best track because it's quiet, he follows his own track and needs no steering and the sleigh runners stay in their tracks. So next year, I'll just keep the sleigh going from the first snowfall and that'll probably do it.

The only problem we had yesterday was getting started at the barn. Up till now, my Dad led CJ the first 100 yards or so as I drove from the sleigh but yesterday we tried having CJ stand alone while I was in the sleigh so he gets the idea he should just relax until he's asked by me to go. That worked fine. But then, with me and two passengers on board, CJ had a hard time overcoming the sleigh's inertia. Meeting the sleigh's resistance and thinking he couldn't move forward, he tried sideways, which almost slid us into the tractor (in slow motion). So we all piled out of the sleigh, moved him forward and tried again. The same thing happened. Dad then led him down the trail as we'd done before. Next time, I'll try starting him with only me in the sleigh, and then when we're on the trail (hopefully) I'll stop and invite the passengers in, and CJ should head off in a straight line when he's on the trail.

At this point, it seems I still need my passengers to be spritely and adventurous!

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