Managing forests with horsepower

HEAVY horses from Harbridge are being used to educate woodland managers, agricultural students and young farmers in how to manage forests.

The New Forest Land Advice Service and the New Forest National Park Authority are offering a course in using heavy horses to help manage woodlands after the technique was hailed as the future of forestry.

People can take the reins of one-ton Percheron draft horses to help clear logs from woodland sites on the one-day course.

About 40 per cent of private woodland in the New Forest is unmanaged and horses are ideal for sites which are wet, steep or impossible to reach with machinery, says the service.

A spokesman said: “They cause less damage to the ground, are cost effective and often mean footpaths can remain open while work is taking place.

“The horses can remove up to ten tonnes of timber from a site in a day – more than the weight of a double decker bus.”

The course at Roydon Woods near Brockenhurst next Friday will be led by Robert Sampson of Harbridge Working Percherons, famed for their appearances at shows around the forest. He has been breeding and working Percheron horses since 1951.

New Forest Land Advice Service advisor Georgianna Watson said: “With so much woodland classed as unmanaged in the New Forest I am keen to work with forest owners and managers to look at alternative methods for making woodland management work for them.

“Whether you want to manage your woods for social, environmental or economic reasons, horse logging could play an important role in the future as it is a cost effective, efficient and low carbon management technique. This course is the perfect introduction to the horse-drawn timber extraction process.”

The New Forest Land Advice Service is funded by the New Forest National Park Authority, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Natural England and the Verderers.

To find out more about the New Forest Land Advice Service, or arrange a visit, call 01590 646696 or email


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