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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Giant Shire Horses

Back to basics: Giant Shire horses used to tackle overgrown woodland in New Forest because it's too difficult for a machine to do

  • Horses weigh one ton and are capable of shifting timber the same weight as a double-decker bus in just one day
  • Locals are using the horse logging techniques to reduce the high level of untreated woodland in the national park

Visitors to the New Forest might be forgiven for doing a double-take when they see what 'machines' are being used to work the land these days.
Weighing one ton and capable of shifting timber the same weight as a double-decker bus in just one day, these Shire horses are being used to their full capacity in order to tackle overgrown woodland.
They have been employed to work in areas that are deemed too dense and boggy for modern, heavy machinery.
These mighty Shire horses are being used to tackle overgrown woodland in the New Forest,  Hampshire, in areas too dense and boggy for heavy machinery
These mighty Shire horses are being used to tackle overgrown woodland in the New Forest, Hampshire, in areas too dense and boggy for heavy machinery
The Percheron horses  can shift eight to ten tonnes of timber - the equivalent to the weight of a double-decker bus - in just one day
The Percheron horses can shift eight to ten tonnes of timber - the equivalent to the weight of a double-decker bus - in just one day
Locals are using the traditional horse logging techniques to reduce the high level of untreated woodland in the national park.
They are being trained to manage the Percheron horses to clear timber from wooded sites, which make up more than 40 per cent of the park.
The people have been shown how to load logs and woodland on to wheeled carts, which are connected to a harness and attached to the horse.
If the woodland is left alone, the quality of the habitat will decline, pests and disease could spread and this could result in fewer wildlife species living in the area.
The horses - which can tow eight to ten tonnes a day - are used in areas that cannot be reached by modern machinery.
As well as being able to access the areas, horses also have the advantage of not causing damage to the ground.
In addition, footpaths do not have to be closed around the areas, and there is less noise pollution.
Locals are using the traditional  horse logging techniques to reduce the high level of untreated woodland in the national park
Locals are using the traditional horse logging techniques to reduce the high level of untreated woodland in the national park
They are  being trained to manage the Percheron horses to clear timber from wooded sites, which make up more than 40 per cent of the park
They are being trained to manage the Percheron horses to clear timber from wooded sites, which make up more than 40 per cent of the park
If the woodland is left alone, the quality of the habitat will decline, pests and disease could spread and this could result in fewer wildlife species living in the area
If the woodland is left alone, the quality of the habitat will decline, pests and disease could spread and this could result in fewer wildlife species living in the area
Thirteen locals learnt how to handle Percheron draft horses at an event in Roydon Woods, near Brockenhurst, Hampshire.
It was led by Robert Sampson of Harbridge Working Percherons - a New Forest company that has been breeding and working these horses since 1951.
Dr Caroline Wilkins attended the event and said: 'I thoroughly enjoyed the day with the heavy horses and I was surprised how easy and practical woodland management is.
'It was clear that while they were big, heavy horses their footprint through the forest was much smaller than that of a mechanical equivalent - making it much better for the woodland environment.
'It was great fun and a privilege to do some woodland work with such impressive horses.'
Thirteen locals learnt how to handle Percheron draft horses at an event in Roydon Woods, near Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Thirteen locals learnt how to handle Percheron draft horses at an event in Roydon Woods, near Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Georgianna Watson, New Forest Land Advice Service Advisor, said: 'Trainees had the exciting and rare opportunity to take the reins of these incredible horses'
Georgianna Watson, New Forest Land Advice Service Advisor, said: 'Trainees had the exciting and rare opportunity to take the reins of these incredible horses'
The horses - which can tow eight to ten tonnes a day - are used in areas that cannot be reached by modern machinery
The horses - which can tow eight to ten tonnes a day - are used in areas that cannot be reached by modern machinery
Georgianna Watson, New Forest Land Advice Service Advisor, added: 'Trainees had the exciting and rare opportunity to take the reins of these incredible horses.
'They learnt how they can be used to remove timber from sites that are hard to access.
'It is crucial that we teach woodland management skills to anybody who owns or manages woodland, in order to reduce the large proportion of unmanaged woodland in the New Forest and beyond.'
Training was led by Robert Sampson of Harbridge Working Percherons - a New Forest company that has been breeding and working these horses since 1951
Training was led by Robert Sampson of Harbridge Working Percherons - a New Forest company that has been breeding and working these horses since 1951

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