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Horse logging ~ by Angus

Horse logging

Horse logging is the removal of felled timber using horses. Horse-logging, or snigging, has grown very popular in recent years and for good reason: using horses in woodlands is traditional, eco-friendly and the horses can work in steep conditions where machinery would often get stuck. Horses can get to areas that machinery can’t get into and they work much more quietly than most forestry machinery: they are good neighbours where woodlands are near to housing.

Various breeds can be used including Ardennes, Suffolk Punches, Belgian Draft horses or Norwegian Fjordhorses: often the horses used are smaller than traditional carthorses as they have to be more agile and able to handle slopes and move around trees. Typically they can work a 6-7 hour day and can remove around 8-10 tonnes of timber each day. Large loads of over a tonne can be moved significant distances.

The horses can either use chains to pull the logs or a Norwegian/Scandinavian timber arch, which is a metal arch making extraction easier. The arch has two shafts, which go on either side of the horse, and there is a bar at the back with teeth on which the butt of the log rests. This has the effect of making it easier for the horse to pull the log but it also prevents any jolts being transferred to the horse’s back. The horses are driven from the ground using reins and voice control.

By contrast heavy machinery often disturbs drainage, damages flora, compacts the soil and may damage surrounding trees. The noise and fumes from machinery are less appealing than the equivalents from horses. Horse-logging also means that areas where timber is being extracted do not need to be closed to the public.

You can find out more about them at the British Horse Loggers website at: www.britishhorseloggers.org You can also find details of horse-logging contractors on this site and equipment for sale.

There are also various groups of horse-loggers and in total there are about 130 active horse loggers. Perhaps a third of these are women, many coming with a background in horses rather than in forestry. Horse-loggers sometimes do other forestry work including bracken rolling, and are often involved in shows and demonstrations. They have a well-deserved eco-image and while moving logs the horses provide fresh manure at the same time!

Posted in: Practical Guides, Woodland Activities ~ On: 17 October, 2006

23 comments so far

Tracy Pepler
3 December, 2007

I think it is really important to use these horses while they are around – if we don’t use them, their owners won’t be able to afford to keep them!
As energy prices rise and future fuel supplies may be low – horses could be very important to the woodland owner!

Tom Nixon
7 January, 2008

As a horse logger in Ireland I agree with Tracy [above].
From what I know Im the only horse logger here but am struggling to make a living out of it.Maybe forest owners are unaware of the value of using horses in their woods but if they give us a chance to prove our worth they wont be dissapointed with the results.A good horse logger can do quality work with surprising production,leaving the woodland floor in good condition ,causing little damage to the natural regeneration.
Dont disregard the idea till youve tried it.

Deb Millar
15 January, 2008

A rainy day so I looked up the Horse Loggers site. It looks wonderful and it would be a solution for us. However there aren’t that many contractors around and it defeats the purpose if they have to drive miles with a horse box etc.

So if anyone knows someone based in Somerset, or doing work at some point around here, please tell me.

Tom nixon
22 January, 2008

Hello Deb, Why dont you contact the british horse loggers and chat with someone there .
Im sure theres a horse logger whos not too far away that would check out your job.
Dont forget about it because you think it might be too far away,most horse loggers are used to travelling a distance to work and are well equiped to do just that.Ive taken on work 150 miles away and lived in the lorry for up to three weeks at a time,
Hope it works out for you.

Roy
6 April, 2008

I am an amater artist and would like to see real horse logging. If anyone knows where there are any sites being worked this year please let me know.

james
16 April, 2008

Hi Tom. I would be interested to find out where you are located in Ireland. I know a woodland owner in County Tyrone who would be interested in using horse extraction. How far is this from you?

Tom nixon
29 June, 2008

Hi James sorry it took so long to get back,Im in county cork which is the other end of the country but as Iv said I travel all over for work and Ireland is not that big.Id certainly be interested in contacting this person.Iv just completed two jobs which the owners were delighted with but people are still very slow changing back to horse power,I suppose they remember the hardship involved with working horses and the low production using the tradional swing and traces to snig timber but with the modern equipment such as the timber arch and forwarders its a lot more cost effective nowadays.

matt worsfold
11 December, 2008

hi would be happy to look at any work in or around kent as i have just completed first part of trainning with the british horse loggers and now need to get some experience.

Peter
16 January, 2009

Hope you are still looking at this site Deb.
I have some woodland in Devon to and have considered using a horse to carry out some work in my woods. I have thought of buying a horse and equipment to work with, as I am sure there are many of us out there that would rather have a beautiful beast as opposed to a mechanical monster to carry out our logging operations.

Fancy going in as a partner?
Tell me what you think as I am in the neighbouring county, it could work.

Regards

Peter

Sarah Jarvis
24 January, 2009

I am interested in some kind of apprenticeship with heavy horses, logging, farming, other or all.. I write this shyly as I have no previous experience in land-based skills but want to learn. I live on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and cannot find anything local for such a thing, Can anyone help?

catherine
29 January, 2009

Hi Sarah

Try the British Horse Loggers Association http://britishhorseloggers.org/index.htm

Andy
18 March, 2009

Hi , i am very interested in horse logging , and am looking for a suitable horse to buy. My son is a tree surgeon and often has to move timber in confined spaces. He also does a lot of forestry work. Idealy i would like to find a horse 6 or 7 years old already trained, to do the job , and to ride and drive. If anybody has such a horse i would be very interested.
Andy.

Mike
25 March, 2009

hi, I have question to all of you, is it hard to find a job like a horse logger in britain? Even with no experience? Like a beginner? Or just like a assistant of a horse logger?

david campbell
22 October, 2009

hello my name is david campbell i have been doing horse logging most of my life i have been out of it for a while and would like to get back into it would you know of anyone who might be requiring help thank you david

Niall Casey
24 October, 2009

Hi all iam from ireland and have seen Tom Nixon doing what he loves best, and thats working with horses and timber logging. Timber logging is a skil full job and tom is as skil full as the come. keep up the good work Tom

best of luck
Niall

crunchie whitby
21 December, 2009

ihave worked as a horse logger now for 5 years .as well as living and traveling in a bow top wagon for 12 years. i have four cobs all trained by my self.the last 2 years i have won the b.h.l competition for single horses.i am interested in offering a horse logging service while still living in my wagons as deb millar says surely traveling to jobs in a big horse lorry sort of defies the whole point.as well as this lessening emissions. with less overheads it would be more cost effective and cheaper.a main critisism of horselogging being that it is expensive.i will be based in herefordshire but can operate over a large area.i would be interested to hear what others think of these ideas.crunchie

Lisa Downing
16 February, 2010

I can recomend Chrunchie as a fantastic horse logger as I did some training with him a few years ago and thanks to him I am now horse logging in Brittany, France on our own woodland. Its a wonderfull way to work with the horses and they are paying there way (sort of). Good luck Chrunchie it sounds a fantastic idea to travel like that with the horses and to live and work on site. Lisa

Roy
18 February, 2010

I am an amater artist and would like to see real horse logging. If anyone knows where there are any sites being worked this year please let me know. Been trying to get to see “real” Horse Logging for quite a while now. Can anybody help???

crunchie
20 February, 2010

thankyou lisa im very flattered.glad what you learnt you have put to good use.i hope more people follow your lead.what can be better than gathering your firewood and keeping your ponies fit.checkout my new website http://www.crunchiescobs.co.uk let me know what you reckon.happy logging crunchie

C.W. Nicol
23 May, 2011

I am the Chairman of the C.W.Nicol Afan Woodland Trust in Nagano, Japan. A Welsh-bron Japanese citizen. We have been designated as a Future Heritage Site by UNESCO Japan. Prince Charles and members of the Japanese Imperial family have visited us. We are genuine. As more than 80% of our areas is woodland, either conifers or mixed, with often steep mountain sides and a lot of snow in winter, we are exploring the possibilities of bringing back horse logging. Is there anyone out there, an expert, who could bring their expertise and enthusiasm to Japan, and stay for however long it takes to train Japanese staff? We can’t offer much money but we can offer a wage equal to what we pay a Japanese forester, with country accomodation. Single persons only please – because of schooling prob lems and so on. If anybody is interested, let’s start talking.
Nic

alex florescu
1 January, 2013

Hello,
I am from romania and I have a company who works in forestry cutting, to have an idea we cut approx. 10000 mc per year, and we work in hard conditions , sometimes with horses 50% time or old tools like our grandparents. It’s important to know that working in the forest is a hard job even with machines.

h hunter
23 March, 2013

Hi everyone, I am just wondering if someone knew where i could get a single harness from; as I have just been landed a shire mare – but i have no pulling harness for her. I have been asked by the forestt com for Dalby and surrounding areas if they could use her through summer for the tourists.
If you could help me please e-mail me on hunter222_1@live.com, thank you

Courage copse creatives
24 February, 2014

If you want to have a go or build on your horse experience working Ardennes in the woodland, we are running 3 weekend courses throughout 2014. Go to our website to see the full details.

http://www.couragecopse.co.uk

and check out what we got up to last Sept with the big boys in the woods! on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfFrs8SqLlU

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