Working horses at Wilderness Wood in Hadlow Down

WORKING horses will return to woodlands in Wealden next week.

The Working Horse Trust is holding its popular annual work day at Wilderness Wood, Hadlow Down on Sunday, March 13. Vistors will be able to admire a team of heavy horses hauling out wood as it was done in pre-tractor days, with the opportunity to get close to the horses, and learn about the importance of their use for sustainable woodland management.

The working team are Ardennes horses, a stocky breed that is increasingly popular for woodland work, as the horses are strong, compact and sure-footed.

Horses Ellie May and Hamish will be doing the hard work, whilst veteran Dylan will be in the yard for ‘pat and chat’.

The horses will commence their task at 11am, pulling coppiced poles of sweet chestnut and birch to the edge of the track so they can be conveniently collected for processing.

While the horses take a break from their work, there will be plenty of opportunity for visitors to get close to the horses and take photos and learn from the WHT volunteers about the horses and the work of the Trust. The ancient art of horse logging dates back 10, 000 years, and was on the brink of extinction in the 1980s (with only three full time horse loggers left in the country) as machines took over agricultural work.

Today however we are witnessing a revival in the art, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas.

This is in part due to a newly launched apprenticeship scheme in working horse skills, part funded by the Prince of Wales, who has used horse logging on the Duchy estate in Cornwall.

Today there are 15 full time horse loggers in the UK, and up to 1,000 people working part