Horse logging is the extraction of timber using horses as a ‘base machine’ with a wide range of traditional and modern implements.
Horse loggers work through the whole range of timber produced in British woodlands; from small coppice poles, thinnings in soft and hardwoods and up to final crop - large saw logs in soft and hardwoods.
There are currently successful horse loggers and contractors employed throughout
There are considerable benefits to be had over other extraction systems and this ultimate low impact extraction system out performs all other small-scale systems, including quad bikes and mini forwarders. Highly selective silvicultural management of woodlands results in a quality of woodland management and woodland care that cannot be equalled by any other system. Horses are able to extract timber effectively and safely without causing damage, or disturbance to standing timber, flora and fauna.
Horse logging is highly skilled and complex. Initially, the premium might appear to be expensive, but when the quality of the work is taken into account, along with the low impact, a lower reliance upon expensive infrastructure (such as stoned roads) and a lack of costly reparation, then the costs even out. Horse logging can prove to be a more economical option than machinery. A well-known commercial forest manager has recently produced figures showing that a considerable premium can be paid to a horse logging team, because of the lack of costly preparation and reparation, whilst maintaining the income for the forest owner. With reasonable extraction distances, good timber and a fair terrain, horse logging can be competitive, cost effective and produce an impressive daily output.
This traditional skill is far from outdated, or a relic of a bygone age. It is vibrant and combines the life-long and modern day skills of working horses and man with modern equipment. It has an important part to play in contemporary forestry and succeeds in complementing, rather than challenging conventional systems.
The British Horse Loggers have a Professional Register of recommended contractors and a list of working members. They offer a flexible answer to a range of access problems, as well as other forestry services, such as controlling bracken, brambles and other invasive weeds, scarifying to encourage natural regeneration, moving fencing materials, tools and equipment, as well as working in establishment.
Gallery of Horse Logging photos
(click on them for a slideshow)