We are excited to offer a strong collection of draft horse books for
both the hobbyist and the dedicated work horse teamster. As we've
detailed on our Animal Power pages,
work horses are still so valuable on the farm. Yet relatively few
people know about modern work horses, let alone work horse books. If
you would like to learn how to select, train, feed, house and manage
workhorses, or merely read about those who do, we highly recommend these
draft horse books.
Many of these work horse books also cover horse-drawn implements. Once an endangered species, many implements are coming out of storage, being restored, and going back to work in the fields. New implements are also being designed and built for modern needs on modern horse-powered farms. As with the draft horse books above, so few people know about horse-drawn equipment that we felt the need to share.
Whether you are a horse owner trying to figure out if your horses can pay their way, or you already work your horses and you want some expert guidance, these draft horse books will help you find your answers. On the other hand, perhaps you just want work horse books which salute a noble and timeless approach to farming. These books can do that too. Whatever your work horse questions, we believe you'll find the answers here.
We start with this recent book from Lynn Miller, long an advocate for sensible horsepower on the farm and in the woods. He has written a number of books, several more of which will be listed below. But we listed this one first because it speaks so eloquently about that partnership between work horses and their human handlers. It is a careful, even cautious relationship, which must be entered into with great care. But with care and training and respect, this partnership can provide many years of both service and friendship. If you are looking for a starting point with work horses, this is a good one.
After discussing Lynn Miller's more recent book above, I also wanted to make sure to list one of his first books. This was also my first introduction to the topic of workhorses. While the above book discusses more of the training aspect, this handbook covers the actual use of workhorses in a variety of settings. Mr. Miller covers harness, tools, feed, housing and management. He also discusses the cost effectiveness of horse power versus tractor power. It is not a how-to as much as it is a survey of the possibilities, guided by the steady hand and voice of experience.
This large book was another one of the first I ever read when beginning to learn about draft horses. Some of the information here overlaps with the Work Horse Handbook described above, but not as much as you might think. Mr. Telleen is another experienced teamster. Even as many of the same topics are covered in both books, Mr. Telleen has his own gift for relating his lifetime of experience. Don't let this book's rarity or lack of a cover image discourage you. I highly recommend it as a founding member of your draft horse library.
While technically not a book about work horses, this reference is a critical piece of information for those trying to preserve and rebuild the knowledge base for animal powered implements. Mr. Miller's gorgeous book applies to both horsedrawn and oxen-powered field work. It is a salute to yesterday's technology while heralding the return of scale-appropriate tools for today's small farm. An encyclopedia as well as a work of art.
Another book which technically is not so much about horses as it is about working with horses to achieve a very specific farm goal - making hay. This book talks about both the tradition and the functional practices related to haymaking. For those who would like to put up their hay with their horses, this is the book to get started with. This is also a good selection for those who simply want a very pretty book on how traditional method are still in use on the modern farm.
Whether you are interested in horsepower, or simply want to know what that implement is stuck in the weeds out behind the shed, this is the book for you. As with his other books, Mr. Miller has created a reference text, historical record and modern guidebook for appropriate technology on the small farm. These tools were/are designed for horsepower but they can be used with small tractors as well. If you have inherited an old farm with a barn or side yard full of old tools, this book can help you sort out what those tools are and how to use them. As with all his other books, it's beautiful too.