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Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame

2012 Inductees

By Nick Schrauger, Bozeman , MT

 

January 2013 issue

 

      The draft animal era in America dates from the mid-1800s to the 1930s when expansion and industrialization depended on horses, mules, and oxen…and teamsters who drove them. The majority of people who use our modern highways and are served by railroads today do not realize that draft animals were used to build early transportation systems. Draft animals served our nation in many ways in the past.

      The use of draft animals has not entirely ended. Indeed, while many think the use of draft horses and mules is novel, there has been increasing use in recent years. Without individuals, such as those honored by the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame, skills needed to use draft animals would be difficult to obtain.

      The Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is dedicated to those individuals that have made significant contributions to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge, education, and use of draft animals and or draft equipment for work or pleasure in Montana.

      Induction into the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame is based on an outstanding record of contributions to teamster education, preservation, and use of draft animals or restoration of equipment used by draft animals.

      The Hall of Fame is co-sponsored by the Montana Draft Horse and Mule Association and Big Sky Draft Horse Expo.

      The Class of 2012 has a remarkable record of achievement in the preservation and use of draft horses and mules and the education of teamsters.

 

Doug “Doc” Hammill, DVM — Eureka, MT

        Unlike many Hall of Fame recipients, Doug Hammill did not grow up on a farm or ranch. However, he became fascinated with horses at a young age. He especially had a passion for horses pulling wagons. Soon he was making a make-shift harness and hitching a goat to a wagon.

      The Hamill’s lived on the edge of town, and it was not long before Doug successfully lobbied his parents into acquiring a pony. It was not long before the pony was also hitched to a wagon. This fascination led to his career as a veterinarian when one day the vet was called to treat a horse. The die was cast when Doug learned that a person could make his living traveling around to treat other people’s animals. He would become a vet.  

 

“Doc” Hammill with friend.  

      After graduating from vet school, he moved to Montana to begin his veterinary work. It was not long before “Doc” was persuaded to take a team of Clydesdales. This led to owning, breeding, training, and farming with draft horses.

      When he retired from his vet practice, he operated a carriage and sleigh business for ten years at Big Mountain. During this time, he was mentored by expert teamsters Addy Funk and Tom Triplett.

      Ever the student and teacher, Doug continued to read, study, and learn while using draft horses and mules. His analytical mind helped him understand animal behavior and to develop and teach what he terms “gentle horsemanship.”

      Over the past 20 years he has contributed over 100 articles to the “Small Farmers Journal” and other publications which cover virtually every aspect of owning and using driving horses and mules.  

 

Doc Hammill teaching a student how to rake hay with horses. Photo courtesy Doug Hammill.  

      He has conducted hundreds of hands-on workshops at his home place and throughout the United States. Doc has also developed 20 hours of instructional videos covering fundamentals of training, harnessing, and working draft horses and mules. A major emphasis of his teaching and writing has always been on safety of animals and teamsters.

      It is indeed fortunate for the draft horse world in general, and Montana in particular, that Doug Hammill chose to teach, and to improve the skills of teamsters using gentle horsemanship. Dr. Doug Hammill is certainly a deserving member of the Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame.

 

Rusty and Margaret Hebel — Dillon , MT

        The late Rusty Hebel was born in Bozeman in 1960 to a family steeped in the use of draft horses. His father, Hall of Fame member Rollie, is well known for his strawberry roan Belgians.

      Rusty began learning about draft horses at an early age. When he was 16, he accompanied Rollie on part of the 1976 Bicentennial Wagon Train. By 1985, Rusty drove 3,600 miles on the Texas Sesquicentennial Wagon Train while in charge of 30 Belgian mares, fourteen saddle horses, and fourteen troubled boys. His draft horse experience and learning continued while driving the Coors Belgian hitch throughout the U.S.

      After working with some top teamsters, Rusty decided to return home to Montana where he met his wife Margaret.  

 

Margaret, above, and Rusty Hebel, at right. Photos by Helen Eden.  

      Margaret (Armitage) Hebel grew up on a cattle ranch south of Ennis where her family raised cattle and horses. She showed horses, participated in 4-H, joined riding groups, and took horse management classes at Montana State University where she earned her degree in education.

      Rusty and Margaret were married in 1990, forming a partnership centered on raising, showing draft horses, and educating others. Rusty’s draft horse experience, together with Margaret’s abilities to organize and teach were complementary skills.

      Rusty and Margaret taught many teamsters how to care for, train, drive and show draft horses. They organized 4-H driving clinics and co-authored the Montana 4-H Driving Program.

      After teaching many clinics, Rusty noticed that women were shy about asking questions when men were in the class. Margaret discovered that women felt intimidated as long as men were in the classes. Thus the Hebels began teaching “Ladies Only” driving clinics with great success. Their teamwork has led them to develop a driving course at the University of Montana–Western in Dillon.

      Rusty and Margaret Hebel are indeed worthy of induction for their dedication to breeding, showing, and driving draft horses, as well as teaching others the necessary skills required to become safe teamsters.

 

Jim and Donna (Reimer) Norgaard — Roy, Montana

        The lives of Jim and Donna intersected in Montana and they have teamed to make significant contributions to the world of draft horses and mules.

      Jim Norgaard started driving and training Percheron horses in Minnesota some 40 years ago. He sought out experienced teamsters to teach him, and challenged himself to drive hitches from singles through eight-ups including tandem and unicorn. But showing in hitch classes at fairs was only a part of his passion for driving. He also enjoyed farming and logging with his teams.  

 

Donna and Jim Norgaard accept their award. Photo by Helen Eden.  

Rusty Hebel drives a Belgian unicorn hitch while Margaret kneels in the 
rear of the wagon. Photo courtesy Montana Draft Teamster Hall of Fame.  

      Jim moved to Montana in 1970 and started an outfitting business where he used mules for packing. He still enjoyed driving and again associated himself with area teamsters. He also restored and used horse-drawn wagons and equipment for haying and farming.

      Donna was born into the horse world in Maryland and eventually trained race horses. When she lost her husband to cancer, she decided a pack trip in Montana would be good therapy. She found Jim’s outfitting business and signed up for not one, but three trips over two years.

      She amazed her family and friends when she sold her house and race horse business and moved to Roy in 1992. Her Montana adventures introduced her to mules and her driving mentor, Jim, and their lives would forever change.

      Donna is a determined competitor. By 1999, she was winning hitch classes with her mules. In 2000 and 2001, she won back-to-back “World Champion” driver awards at Bishop Mule Days. Of course, she did it with Jim, her mentor, coach, and helper. She has also competed in combined driving.

      For the past 20 years, Jim and Donna have spent their lives in dedication to harness animals. They have trained horses and mules to drive, and have provided many driving clinics at their ranch as well as throughout Montana . Montana is lucky to have the Norgaards helping to improve skills of those interested in draft animals. They are deserving of membership in the Hall of Fame.

 

      For more information about the Montana Draft Horse & Mule Association, visit www.montanadrafthorsemule.com.

 

   

Copyright 2013 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

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