Today, we were able to put our newly learned skills around logging with horses to the test. We travelled to Friendly Cove in Durrus, where some wood needed to be moved. Henry was ever so keen and gave the impression that he's always done this kind of job (which he hadn't, in fact it was his first time working in the woods!). Without hesitation, he pulled log after log - they weren't very big, but quite long. He even managed working in the rather dense spruce plantation rather well - and best of it all, we've been invited back to do more soon!
After gale, rain and heavy frost over the last few days, today turned out to be beautiful. It couldn't have been better for a nice trip out with the cart. These days, when the roads are quiet, Winnie comes along, as Henry is the ideal teacher and role model when it comes to strong nerves and being layed back and non-fussed whilst working in shafts. One day, it'll be her day to try the cart, but until then, she is allowed to do the sight-seeing whilst plodding along next to Henry.
Yesterday, about 25 work horse enthusiasts from all over the country met near Mallow, Co. Cork. Some knew each other already from other gatherings, others met for the first time - travelling from as far as Mayo, Roscommon and Clare Island!
We spent the morning outside, joining Eddie Murphy who was in charge of two beautiful Percheron geldings pulling a manure spreader. Just as well there were so many of us, which meant that the platform of the spreader was loaded within minutes, and off they went to the field.....
After a hearty lunch, we gathered to discuss what was the main thing on our minds that day: to found a work horse group in Ireland. The meeting moved relatively smoothly through looking at a constitution for the group and electing committee members - and by dusk, we toasted with a strong cup of tea and cake to the newly founded "Irish Work Horse Association"!!!
The sectretary of the group is Christophe Mouze and can be contacted by anybody who would like to find out more about the group: firstname.lastname@example.org
I've just returned from the Pfalz region in Germany where I spent a few days at the agricultural college Neumuehle near Muenchweiler in Southeast Germany, where I learned more about horse logging. Although both Henry and Winnie have pulled logs and moved firewood of various sizes for us over the years, I always find it inspiring and fascinating to see other more experienced work horse people at work and learn from them. Apart from having an interesting time working with the four big cold-blooded logging horses, it was very beautiful in the beech and oak forest which shone in bright autumn colours. We moved quite some wood over the few days! On the last day, two judges from the German Horse Association joined us to watch and test our skills, and we can now call ourselves "zertifizierte Fuhrleute zum Holzruecken" (certified horse loggers)!
I can't wait to go off to the woods with the horses now, to test my new skills, and Henry and Winnie look like they can do with some interesting work after their break whilst I was away....