View Full Version : In The Van: Recruiting and Training for Wagoner's Assistants

12-17-2009, 11:20 PM
In The Van: Trailing Kirby Smith August 1-7, 2010
Recruiting Wagoner’s Assistants

Integral to the event experience for In The Van is the movement of wagons—and the work required to do so. We are specifically recruiting and providing training for Wagoner’s Assistants to aid the Wagon Drivers for this event. We are excited about this opportunity to expand the period skillset for members of our living history community, and look forward to your participation.

Position Description:
Wagoner's Assistant, "Lad" or "Swamper": First, and most important helps the wagoner with care of the animals. Tied animals should never be left alone. Either the wagoner or his assistant is with the animals at all times. The Assistant helps in checking hoofs, grooming and harnessing (yoking) the team. Beyond that, he (or she) is there to help with obstacles. In normal driving, the Assistant is the rear view mirror. The Assistant also acts as the loadmaster, keeping an eye on the goods in the wagon during movement and solving load related problems. On those wagons with external brakes (most ox wagons), the Assistant's responsibility is to apply the brakes on the command of the wagoner. Essentially, driving a wagon with any kind of team, off road, is a two-person job. The wagoner can only see the wheels on one side. Driving is much more difficult with only one person. Most obstacles can be overcome with two people without calling for extra help. It is a strenuous job with constant climbing into and out of the wagon, pushing the wagon through mud and handling large animals. The assistant should be learning to drive on his (or her) own and be able to take the team for short periods of time. Multiple positions are available for both males and females. Civilian clothing standards for the event are listed on the yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/In-The-Van/

We are offering initial training for this position the weekend of February 6, 2010, at the farm of Gerry Barker near Edmonton, Kentucky. Edmonton is slightly north of the Tennessee line and about 40 minutes from Interstate 65. Training will be offered in dealing with both oxen and equine drawn wagons, driving, and aiding in basic animal care.

Floor sleeping space will be available in the Barker home, bring your own bedroll. In nearby Edmonton, very reasonably priced rooms are available at Cave Hill Motel, 310 W Stockton St, Edmonton, KY 42129, (270-432-3911)

Participants may attend in period or modern dress. Sturdy shoes or boots, leather work gloves, warm clothing and hat.

To register for this training event, reply on the yahoo list.

While we prefer that folks attend this training, sometimes distance is a factor. Persons with prior wagon driving experience who are interested in applying for In The Van as a Wagoner’s Assistant may apply to in-the-van@att.net . Please give your name, contact information, a complete description of your skills, and the extent of your experience.

01-04-2010, 12:34 PM
To date, we have 10 participants registered for Wagoners' Assistant training. We do have room for more participants at this training. We will be training a full day on Saturday February 6 and a half day on Sunday February 7.

Here is what Gerry expects to cover during these two days:

Duties of the wagoner and his helper: A look at the duties of both and how they

Animal and wagon safety: An overall picture of safety around draft animals and
wagons, not only for the participants, but also what is expected of others when
they come to help during the event.

Animal care, feeding and grooming: Hands on work with the animals getting them
ready for work.

Hoof care/cleaning: An in depth look at hoof and leg care based on past
experience in off road work with draft animals.

Injuries: Detecting and treating minor injuries.

Harnessing: Fitting and use of common harnesses. Hands on getting horses and
mules harnessed for work.

Yoking: Fitting and use of yokes. Yoke up a team of oxen.

Driving training: Ground driving teams of oxen and horses.

Wagons: Introduction to common wagons and wagon maintenance.

Practical work driving teams on wagons.

I'm excited about this training opportunity, and its expansion of our period
skills. Gerry and Maria are most generous to share their skills, their animals,
and their home.

01-05-2010, 02:40 PM
We've reached our numbers cap for assistant wagoner's training. Registration for the workshop is now closed.