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Expert Promotes Putting Goats In Harness
Mika Ingerman of Berlington, Vt., is on a mission to earn more recognition and respect for harness goats - an area she believes has been a somewhat forgotten treasure.
Her Facebook page, called “Team Snazzy Goat,” currently has more than 8,000 followers, and is where she offers tips into harness training goats and photos of her two Cashmere wethers known as Harry and David.
“They’re trained to be driving goats with all the spit and polish that was so prevalent with harness goats during the 19th century,” Mika says. “I use the same techniques used to school elite driving horses and, so far, they love it.”
Mika also has experience driving and training miniature horses, American shetlands, and mules, spanning a 14-year period.
She bought her Cashmere wethers in the spring of 2011, and started halter breaking them when they were 3 mos. old.
When they were 6 mos. old, she started getting them used to having something comparable to a harness on their bodies. Since they were still too small to fit a real harness, she used a homemade surcingle, a training device made of rope with rings.
When Harry and David turned one, Mika started teaching them to ground drive (steering them with reins while she walked behind them).
“I waited until they were 2 to introduce the bits and cart because I wanted all of their teeth to be done growing in, and for their bones and joints to be fully developed, so as not to hurt them in any way,” Mika explains.
“Since harness goats seem to be rare in the social media world, people are excited to spread the word about them,” Mika says. “Really, for me, it’s a labor of love. We do demonstrations and education at the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, and at the Washington County Fiber Tour, and just encourage everyone to drive goats. We hand out business cards and flyers at these events and urge people to follow along with our progress on the Facebook page.
“Driving animals is incredibly rewarding,” she adds. “It gets adults out in nature, and it gives kids a great sense of self-esteem and responsibility. Goats are much easier to handle than horses and less expensive.”
Mika has published a book about this area of specialty in the goat world. Called “Educating the Harness Goat,” the book breaks down the training process into several simple lessons, and names sources for 2-wheeled carts and harness.
The book, “Educating the Harness Goat,” is 8.5 x 11 in., with 26 pages, and sells for $16, plus S&H. If you live outside the U.S., you can purchase a PDF copy online for $8.
“We also have Youtube videos and pictures on Flickr.” Mika says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mika Ingerman, P.O. Box 212, Burlington, Vt. 05402 (ph 802 922-6301; cluckcluckhen@yahoo.com; https://sites.google.com/site/teamsnazzygoat; www.facebook.com/teamsnazzygoat).

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #3