(how bulls were broken cont.)
When everything was in readiness the untamed bull was untied, allowed to get up and then the fun began. Quite a long piece of rope was attached to the chain that connected to the ring in his nose. This was to keep him from crowding the "broken" bull into the barn. If the "near" bull was a wise one this was not neces¬sary. In this situation a smart bull would stand, and all that the "off" bull could do, would be to go around the "near" bull, in a circle to the left, just circling the stump round and round. He could not go to the right because the "near" bull would stand still, and the poor "untamed" bull could not pull both the bull and the stump. They were tied together and left for the rest of the day. By night, there was little fight left in the "off" bull. This procedure went on, with the addition of a drover, who began to train the bull to turn left when told to "haw", assisted by a boy who pulled on the nose ring rope, and the prodding by the drover with his goad stick. Every trainer had his own method, of course. Many broke the oxen when they were very young, and it was the opinion of many that they learned easier at a younger age.
After a "gentling" period, the real teaching began. The drover would stay on the right side and the boy on the left of the near ox, holding the nose ring rope in his hand, as well as a switch to use on the tame bull, in the other hand.
First, the team was taught to pull straight ahead, the trainer using his voice to start them. The helper's duty was to see that the "near" oxen moved along even with the one being trained. At a signal from the trainer, the helper would pull on the rope, as the trainer called "Haw", he would prod the young ox with the goad and the team would turn left.
Then at the right time the assistant would prod the old ox and yell "gee". He would start to the right and force his partner to turn right, too. This was kept up for hours at a time, until at last it was not necessary to pull on the neophyte's rope at the drover's "haw". He would turn left and force his teammate over to the left, as long as he could hear "haw" until he could turn the team entirely around and head for home. The "broken" ox would execute the right turn on the drover's "gee" forcing the young ox to turn also. The stump was no load for two bulls but it was something to pull and get them use to pulling, as well as use to the feel of a load on their necks.
This procedure was the one commonly used. Of course, the position of the "broken" bull could be changed to the "off" side to train a bull for the "near" side. Before the lead pulls were put on a regular team they would be used for minor chores to get used to working together. Bulls were always matched for size and weight, to work as team mates. As bull after bull was gentled with the experienced ox, they were yoked together, and became yoke mates, always without fail working in the same position under the yoke. It was much less work to break the swing teams than it was the lead team, because they did not need to be taught "gee" and "haw". The leaders responded to those signals and the swings and wheelers simply followed them.
As soon as the first swing of bulls were gentle enough to be yoked together, a chain, commonly called a fith chain, with a hook on each end, was hooked into the ring under the center of the lead yoke and was passed back and hooked into the ring of the second yoke and the four bulls were worked as one team. All of this time the leaders were getting better and better trained until it was amazing where they could be driven and how close they could be positioned simply by voice.
Before the oxen could be worked, they had to be shod as their feet would not hold up under the working conditions. To shoe an ox was a difficult proceeding. They were frequently shod in pairs. The pull-puncher and the blacksmith would urge the animal into a heavy crib, and the heavy end was battened down securely, to in¬sure them remaining in position. The with a hoist or block and tackle, the animal was hoisted up until its feet were off the ground.
The inside of the hoof was cleaned with a sharp knife to remove any rocks. As is commonly known, cattle have cloven feet. Therefore a bull shoe came in two halves, right and left to match the right and left halves of the cloven foot. The blacksmith heated the iron shoe at the forge and pounded it in shape upon the anvil to fit the hoof. The shoes came flat and the blacksmith shaped it and made the toe and heel cast to fit each ox. The shoe covered the entire half of the cloven hoof, not just the outer rim as a horse's shoe. It should never extend beyond the outer rim of the hoof, but was generally about a sixteenth of an inch smaller than the hoof. This gave the blacksmith a chance to nail the shoe to the half shell of the hoof on the outside only, from the center to the back of the heel of the foot. The nail holes were pre-cut in the shoes, the nails were cut off and crimped and the shell was rasped down to fit the shoe.
Because the ox shoe could only be nailed on the outside of the hoof it required many nails (which were smaller than horse shoe nails. Halves were frequently lost, which required a substitute ox while the shoe was replaced.