About Workhorse Workshops:
We are passionate about providing a safe, effective and fun learning environment for draft horse work in the United States. Several generations ago one would grow up nurtured in traditional environments with working animals and livestock as a part of every day life. Now experienced teamsters are becoming harder to find and most draft horse farmers have to actively seek out training opportunities which are often far away from home. Workhorse Workshops is dedicated to filling that gap, to preserving the knowledge of draft horse farming and providing a variety of educational opportunities for people to learn, hands-on, to work with draft horses. We recognize that people come into draft horse work from a variety of backgrounds and comfort levels with horses. We have designed programs to meet you where you are and to slowly and safely build skills and confidence. We offer programs ranging from introductory to advanced. To learn more about our educational programs check out our Draft Horse Farming Training Page.
We would not be successful with our working animals without the help and mentoring of folks such as Lynn Miller of the Small Farm Journal, Doc Hammill of Doc Hammill’s Horsemanship Workshops, Don Yerian, The Mader family of Horsepower Organics, Mac McIntosh of Lazy “M” Ranch, John Erskine, Lise Hubbe of Sweetwell Farm, Randy Clayton and Andy Eggers of Draft Horses for Hire, and countless other experienced and generous individuals. We are grateful for their advice and counsel.
About Walt Bernard:
Walt got his start with Draft Horses by logging and doing farm demonstrations with Draft Horses for Hire near Santa Cruz California. After he acquired his first team, he and his partner, Kris, quickly began incorporating the horses into their farming system. On Ruby and Amber’s Farm, (named for their first draft team), Walt uses draft horses for all types of farm power from plowing and field work, to specialized multi-row bed cultivation techniques.
Over the years Walt has developed his own philosophy and techniques for relating and interacting with draft horses born out of countless hours of observing, working with, and experiencing the horse from it’s point of view. He has studied the approaches, techniques, and methods of many of the well established draft horse experts in the field, as well as mentored with several ‘great’ draft horse teachers/trainers of our generation.
The core values of his equine philosophy include:
- Patience - Honesty - Clear Communication -
- Present Moment Interaction - Cooperation -
- Graduated Success takes priority over Goals or Time -
- Positive Reward Based Training - Safety - Progressive Desensitization -
- Priciples of Advance and Retreat -
"Complex problems can be reduced to simple steps for a positive solution."
"The horses perspective should be your perspective."
Walt has developed several programs to teach and pass on his techniques and methods for aspiring teamsters to be safe, successful and satisfied in their development as Teamsters. He has combined and adapted his experiences into his own philosophy of draft horse training and is now passing these techniques and methods on through his teaching programs.
His programs include The Individual Intensive Training Program, Small Group Workshops, The Teamster of the Month Program, and The Equine Based Farm Learning Program. These programs are designed to meet the various goals and needs of the different participants we interact with and Walt can help you choose the program that best fits your needs. The Programs are conducted on Ruby and Amber’s Farm, a fully operational certified organic and diverse market farm, so the participant gets a ‘real’ training experience on a farm where the draft horse tasks actually contribute to marketable crop production as a business enterprise rather than a garden hobby.
You don’t have to look to hard to find someone who has got their start with Draft Horses with Walt’s help, either by a training tip, workshop, or horse training program. In addition, Walt is a key supporter of the annual Farmer-to-Farmer Gathering for Draft Horse Farmers in the Western United States and often hosts the event at his Farm. Walt provides ongoing support for his program participants as part if his commitment to foster a strong successful community of Draft Horse Farmers.
About The Farm:
Workhorse Workshops is located at Ruby and Amber's Farm in Dorena, OR. Our farm has been Certified Organic since 2000 and Certified Biodynamic since 2007. We sell at the farmer's markets in Eugene and have a small CSA. We have roughly 2 acres of vegetable and fruit production, anywhere from 1 to 3 acres of grain production, and about 12 acres in grass hay. We are a mixed power farm with 8 draft horses, 5 people, 1 tractor, pigs, 2 cows, and 50 laying hens.
We use the draft horses for all types of tillage, cultivation, and haying, as well as other farm activities; training, driving, and chores from single to multiple hitches (3-6 horses at once). We use the horses almost every day in some capacity. Much of the field work is done in the spring and fall at the beginning and end of each cropping season, however we do small plot tillage, tillage in high tunnels, training, driving, workshops, and student training throughout the year. About 75 % of our tillage is with draft horses, but we utilize tractor power, and several sturdy garden forks for our people tillage depending on what is appropriate at the time. For example, if time is critical, we may do tillage with tractor power, or tractor power in concert with horsepower.
Western Oregon gets a lot of precipitation during the fall and winter. We have twelve 150′X 20′ open air hoop houses (no covered ends). We use both a single horse and a team in the hoop houses. What a joy it is to work the horses in these hoop houses, rain, snow, or shine. For our small-scale farm production we find working draft horses deeply satisfying and beneficial to the farmstead. With our temperate climate and long season we can grow a diversity of produce for our markets and we are lucky to live in a community that supports small local farmers.
To see the latest and greatest about the farm check out our Facebook Page.