Letters to the Editor

Jockey stick use explained

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I have a few observations to make concerning some published items.

In the September 2008 issue, in the article by Bill Vossler concerning horse-drawn implements, I have found an error. The caption for the picture on page 21 showing a John Deere plow manufactured in the 1900s calls this plow a gang plow. This plow is a single-bottom riding plow called a sulky plow. A gang plow was a 2-bottom riding horse-drawn plow.

In the November 2008 issue, on page 9, about "What-Is-It?" concerning the jockey stick used on horses, the use identified for it was wrong. It was used when working a 3-horse or 4-horse hitch with lines only attached to the horses on the tongue of the implement (the driven pair). The jockey stick was used to keep the outside horses (without lines) going straight with the driven pair of horses. Without the jockey stick, the offside horses could just turn off sideways without going straight. Most farmers hooked the jockey stick from hames on the driven horse to the bit on the offside horse. Some hitched them bit to bit.

With the flexibility of the short chains used on the jockey stick, it would not keep a horse from lagging back. Most farmers made their own jockey sticks, using a hedge tree limb or similar wooden stick. Then they'd cut a notch all the way around the stick at each end, wiring a snap in the stick, not using chain at all.

Fred Moulton, 4075 85th Rd., Thayer, KS 66776; (620) 839-5602