Timber extraction by horse ---- Film and promotional work -- Horse logging courses Practical courses, five days long, conducted on a one to one basis on a working site

Our fully insured and experienced crew ensures quality work combining a traditional skill with modern sustainable forestry management- the natural way to work woodland

The advantages of using a professional horse logger to extract timber are;

- Selective thinning is economical as no extra trees are cut down than needed

-The low impact of horses leaves the forest floor in good condition

- No need for line thinning reduces risk of windblown trees

- Ensures your remaining standing trees are undamaged

- Ideal for wet, steep, rough and small plantations

- Leaves no timber behind on the forest floor

- Minimal disturbance to wildlife

- No pollution of waterways


For the past twenty eight years I have worked and trained heavy draught horses in all road, field and forest operations across Ireland - a trade I learned in the traditional manner where it was passed down through my family from father to son. This heavy horse heritage and the range of work we do with various breeds of these magnificent horses can be viewed in the archive below. References are available on request.
Feel free to contact me if you require any further information.

Tom Nixon, Athenry, County Galway, Ireland
mobile; 086 038 4857
email; tomnixonheavyhorses@hotmail.com

Member of
Forest Training & Education Ireland Ltd.
British Horse Loggers

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Traditional rural skills and crafts

Recently while trying to get in contact with a craftsman that we had met at an agricultural show (for a client whose timber we were drawing out) we noticed in general how hard it is to track down various woodland trades and skills- many are virtually unknown outside their own circles.

Consequently I decided to host a directory that should, by improving communication between us all, increase all our businesses and at the same time show woodland owners the many possibilities of how they can manage or profit from their timber.

 An Iron Age dwelling called a Crannog being reconstructed at Brigit's Garden supervised by Forester and Woodworker Steven Burke from Athenry- www.brigitsgarden.ie

Conversations between those initially contacted about such a directory resulted in the decision not to restrict this solely to woodland related businesses, but to include general traditional rural skills, crafts and produce.

If you have a skill, craft or product that you consider relevant you are welcome to e-mail me an image (photos, logo or business card) and a description along with your contact details and I will list it on this page. My email is tomnixonheavyhorses@hotmail.com
This service is free.

Scroll down for the following;

Forester and woodworker

Nature Farming 
            - Self Sufficiency Courses 
               - Working Horse Courses

Wooden gates, post and rail fencing

Native trees and hedging
                   -Rustic wooden gates and brackets
                         -Charcoal and
                         -Hedgelaying, stonewall and
earthbank repairs

Horse logger based in England


Forester and woodworker
Steven Burke
Tel. 087 798 4209
email stdebu@gmail.com

''From tree to timber frame house-

Interior of The Crannog in Brigit's Garden, Roscahill, County Galway

Steven Burke is a forester and woodworker who also operates his own sawmill at home.
His set up enables him to cut logs into suitable timber sizes and use them for timber frame constructions.

So far his buildings consist of Chalets, Workshops, Offices, Potting Sheds and Treatment Rooms.

He also builds decks, playgrounds, gates, Rustic furniture - anything that can be built from wood.''

To see details of course on ''Woodwork and Construction of Traditional Wooden Building''  click below;


Nature Farming
Self sufficiency courses 
Working horse courses

Ballinreeshig Nature Farm
Ballygarvan, County Cork

website; www.reeshignaturefarm.blogspot.com

'Striving to create more awareness about self sufficiency and  promoting biodiversity in the way we farm with nature. Ballinreeshig Nature Farm provides many opportunities for people to learn more about the true values, and importance, of an ecologically sound approach to the way we live our lives.'


Wooden gates, post and rail fencing

Paddy Murray,
Moorpark Sawmills Est 1947
Birr, Co. Offaly Tel. 05791 21245 and 087 7442168

''Hand crafted from Irish Larch this adaptation of the zig-zagging, early American split rail fencing offers the same rustic look but uses much less timber as all the posts are mortised and all the rails are tapered to fit into them, making it one of the easiest fences to build, making it perfect for D.I.Y.
Each piece is hand crafted from Irish Larch which is known for it's strength and durability. Using only Larch from sustainably managed woodlands these gates (hand crafted to your own design) and fences require minimal maintenance and no chemical preservatives - a unique and 100% natural product.''


Native trees & hedging
Rustic wooden gates and brackets
Charcoal and firewood
Hedgelaying, stonewall and earthbank repairs

Niall McKenna
Tel. 086 3061248

''Woodland Heritage-
my aim is to protect and enhance natural native woodland and plants principally through regeneration and replanting of native stock in appropriate locations and soil suitability.
All seed is from local provenance where possible and grown outdoors so as to maintain hardiness and ensure survivability under Irish conditions.

Most of the main species are available, as are all of the native shrubs and plants which can make a very useful and attractive hedge or boundary. A complete delivery and planting service along with aftercare and maintenance is available.
Trees or shrubs can be supplied barerooted or in biodegradable pots at 1, 2 or 3 year old.
All planting is done with hand tools (ie. spade) to minimise damage to existing vegetation particularly in existing woodland.

Much of our ancient woodland was protected by some form of enclosure to limit access to grazing animals - both wild and domestic. Dry stone walls or earthbanks were installed and maintained where no natural boundaries existed and eventually these tended to develop into natural hedges.

We can also undertake dry stone wall and earthbank repairs, gatepost fitting or stone pier building and fit rustic wooden or metal gates. Hedgelaying is another service provided during the dormant season.

Finally, any surplus timber (after hedgelaying, thinning, pruning) can be turned into firewood, charcoal or craft material - if suitable.''


Horse logger based in England

Doug Joiner 

Heavy Horses/Childer Wood Heavy Horses,
Hill Farm, Stanley Hill, Bosbury, Ledbury,Herefordshire, HR8 1HE, England
Phone; (+44)  01531 640236 
Mobile; (+44) 07773 900751
Website ; www.heavyhorses.net
Email; doug@heavyhorses.net

 ''I have been a professional horse logger since 1993 and am a woodland manager and qualified trainer.
I work for statutory, national and local bodies, various woodlands and wildlife trusts and owners of small woodlands. I manage Childer Wood and uses horses for all the work ;timber extraction, scarification, fertilising, bracken and bramble control as well as moving the tools and equipment. I believe very strongly in the future of the working horse, in it's flexible power and delicacy.
It is a truly appropriate power source for the ultimate low impact timber extraction system, handling all types and sizes. A well trained horse and a professional contractor team led by a horse logger can only assist in the growing , management and harvesting of quality timber.
Horses can be used at low capital cost to work with a range of equipment in private,conservation, amenity and commercial forestry, working alongside or replacing tractors and heavy machinery.
I offer training in horse logging, horse work and woodland management; in groups and individually.
I also demonstrate horse logging at shows across the country. 
I am Chair of the British Horse Loggers the national industry body for professional horse loggers and an active member of FECTU the European Federation for the Promotion of the use of the Working Horse''

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Crusheen Co. Clare working on our current contract Martino Newcombe - who trained with me in heavy horse handling at Airfield Farm in 1991- extracting pole length Larch thinnings along a main ride in very wet conditions. If this had been done with a machine the ride would have become impassable, but because of the low impact of the horses we will be able to use this ride to extract timber until the end of the job. The surface  damage is so light that this will be green again in three to four weeks

At the landing the poles are cut into three metre lengths and stacked ready for sale. Larch is a valuable tree in that it is tougher, stronger and more durable than any other conifer than Yew. It grows six times quicker than Oak and being impervious to rotting and insects is used for railway sleepers, bridges,pit props, pilings, boat building, fencing and gates.

Hay and corn

Kerry in 1993, when I was Horseman on Muckross Traditional Farms demonstrating how a ' reaper and binder' is used to harvest corn as part of Muckross's depiction of farming life in the 1920's and 30's.

This piece of equipment cut the corn and tied it into handy sized bundles- sheafs - which had then to be stood upright in the field to dry out. Only then could the grain be separated from the straw stalks which was stored in heaps.
The working horses drawing this reaper were my Irish Draught/Clydesdale mare and Shire stallion, which we won the Birr Cavalcade the previous year with, pulling a restored C.I.E. wagon filled with bales of straw- the modern method of storing straw.
Corn is any type of grain such as wheat or barley that is used as food for humans, the edible part being the seed head while the stalks become straw used for bedding livestock.

Hay is grass that is cut and dried so it can be stored - saved- and later used to feed livestock during the winter. In the photo below the Lakes of Killarney in the National Park are visible in the distance beyond where I was cutting hay with a ' finger bar mower'.

The invention of a horse drawn mowing machine meant one man could do the work of many men who would have had to cut this long grass by hand with a scythe. The mature grass when cut is still full of moisture so to make it into hay it must be turned over so wind and sun can dry it out.

This was usually turned by hand with forks though some farms would have used a horse drawn 'hay- maker' pictured below.
Both hay and corn must be dry before they can be stored so making them is always at the mercy of the weather.

The following pages from Henry J Webb's Advanced Agriculture of 1894 gives a detailed account of the types of horse drawn machinery that were used for making hay and cutting corn.