Three course participants, hitching logs to cob mare Winnie.
After a successful logging course with good attendance, run by Sandra Schmid (www.horsepowerinireland.com), which took place on the first weekend in March, a few IWHA members gathered again at the same site in Glengarriff Woods at the beginning of the St. Patrick's Bank Holiday weekend. The site lies in the middle of Glengarriff Nature Reserve in West Cork, surrounded by the magnificent Caha mountains, and right next to a beautiful river with pebble banks, perfect for picnics at break time. The weather was great, and we got lots more timber pulled out. It was a good opportunity for a friend of the association to start training in her cob who had done logging before, but not in a 'real' forestry environment - and he did a fantastic job! Here more photos of the logging course.
Here 'Podge' with his owner Selvi Iyilikci. Easy does it in the beginning - and he did pull more than one small branch at the end of the day!!
IWHA now FECTU member
Since January 2013, the IWHA is member of the European Working Horse Federation (FECTU = Fédération Européenne du Cheval de Traitpour la promotion de son Utilisation). This means that we are now part of a wider European network of working horse enthusiasts, and that our aims and goals are promoted on European level by FECTU representatives. You can find out more about FECTU on www.fectu.org. The AGM of FECTU is taking place in April this year in Switzerland - see the Events page for details!
First ploughing job in 2013 at the Forde farm
A few IWHA members met at John and Olive Forde's farm near Newmarket.Co.Cork recently to help prepare a field for sowing in spring. 3 teams were ploughing away all weekend and good progress was made. Hopefully, we can come back soon to harrow and sow barley. On the photo are John Forde's Clydesdales Bobby and Jock, with Sandra Schmid at the plough and John Forde on the reins. More photos are here.
Ploughing for the potato project, November 2012
On 17th November a small group of IWHA members met at Miles Frankel's farm in Doneraile, Co. Cork. The previous week, at the AGM, a new idea had been born: to grow an acre of potatoes with the help of real horse power. Miles generously offered his land for this project and on the same day a site was chosen. So, a week later, horses and ploughmen arrived to turn the sod in preparation for planting the potatoes in Spring 2013. Unfortunately, it had been a very wet week, and the site was still quite grassy, but it all got ploughed in the end. But at the end of the day, given the condition of the site, it was decided that 2013 would be used to prepare the site further, let the ploughed-in grass rot and ad some manure, for the site to be ready in Spring 2014...
Ready to harvest the potaotes, whenever!!!
November 2012: AGM in Doneraile/Co. Cork
On the first Saturday in November, our 3rd official annual meeting took place at the farm of Miles Frankel, Doneraile, Co. Cork. The day started at around 11 a.m. where members and some of their horses gathered in the courtyard. Miles had a tree felled and cut into pieces in one of his fields, which needed to be hauled closer to the yard. At work were Miles' team of Percheron geldings, William's Suffolk Punch gelding, John Forde's Clydesdale gelding, Eddie Murphy's piebald Cob gelding and Sandra Schmid's Cob gelding. We shifted a fair amount of wood and there was plenty of opportunity for members to join in and have a go. By mid-afternoon, we called it a day and were welcomed warmly into the kitchen to lovely food and drink. This was followed by our AGM - minutes are sent out to all members! More photos of the day here.
October 2012: Trip to England
At Robert Sampson's farm.
A small group of IWHA members had planned to travel to England to the Southern Counties ploughing championships on 20th/21st October 2012.
Moss Trant reports: "Due to the cancellation on Friday night of the Southern Counties ploughing championships we decided to make new arrangements, we visited Robert Sampson where we got a very warm welcome. We crossed the New Forest in Hampshire to see the wild animals. We also visited Jane Wordsworth with her lovely Comtois horses, she also took us out on two of her gigs on a road trip. We also visited the museum of English rural life in Reading and there was some beautiful old equipment and machinery of every kind there. What seemed to be a negative with the cancellation of the show turned out to be a very positive trip indeed. 6 members of the Irish Working horse Association in total travelled. In all, I think it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed the trip."
Seosamh Mag Fhloinn shares his notes he took of this trip and the previous journey to the British Festival in July :
So we went to Peterborough.
Brought the nearly out-of-date sunblock and the sunglasses, well…
The train from Stanstead gave a warning. “It rains here too”. The much mooted British festival of the Working Horse was a minute sideshow to a sodden East of England. Even the blue texel sheep caught this writer’s attention instead! However, I was particularly pleased to meet (and get a print from) Joe Godderidge, Norfolk artist/horse farmer, there showing his innovative 3-horse mower. Greasenhall Museum & Workhouse had a neat recycled Smythe drill, now a precision beet seeder, shown by Richard D’Arcy. Other machinery shown seem to have been “in the shops” for some time.
Times were when our 16 travellers from the Irish Working Horse Association seemed to outnumber the Festival attendees. Not really what we had come for. The meal & drinks in the hotel afterwards somewhat raised our spirits so we looked for the silver lining.
Some of us had heard of the Southern Counties Heavy Horse Association (through videos, their website and horse mags.). Moss Trant from Kerry had even been a member, so we thought “we should go there next”.
Come the ploughing match day and we came. All 6 of us. Just before departing, and after paying our no refund airline and accommodation, the event was rained off…….
What the Heck “we’ll go anyway”. Straws grasped, frantic phone calls made, things looked up. Moss had somehow got us a Sunday morning date with the extra-numerous horse farmer, the very only, Robert Sampson. William O’Sullivan, our new Sec., interested in compact reliable horses to suit his trekking business, would like to see Comtois horses close up. Jane Wordsworth agreed for us to visit.
Got to Luton (even through the barefoot security), got the car, went to Basingstoke and Jane’s yard.
We had been in contact with Ann Dawson, Sec. of the SCHHA, and who you think was the first person to meet us there! Nice to have a face for the signature. Jane appeared from out the wooded lane leading a new Comtois. Muddy overtrousers and broad smile made us all feel at home. She yoked two carriages and drove us around Old Basing. William even got to drive one carriage. Her horses and her unselfish imparting of knowledge from her ample store were much appreciated.
Sunday dawned and it wasn’t raining. Set the Sat-Nav for Ringwood. Harbridge Church looked just like it did in the video. A direction seeking phone call and avoiding two grey squirrels got us there. A man, a big man, stood outside his farmhouse, possibly wondering if we were to ever get there, we met Robert Sampson. Tea offered and accepted (and friends made with the household terrier) we chatted for a while. Robert, his wife Barbara and John and Clare McDermott, who had also come to meet us, and our group moved to the yard. Percherons were to be harnessed. Eight of them. Glancing around the yard, machines familiar from the video were really there. We, being of the non-focused variety, got Barbara to show us some Percheron/New Forest crossbreds. Returning I mused as to how we could lose eight horses and three people in open farmland. However a field or so later there they were. I always assumed that to see big hitches the Atlantic would have to be crossed.
All eight were being yoked to a wide heavy disk harrow in two spans of four by Robert, John and Clare. John took me on a singletree tour. Four swings onto two twin swings onto a big main swing and that was it. The leading horse was balanced to the horse behind with a simple pulley and rope. Wonderful are the works of a wheelbarrow- when you see it done-.
The ride on the (flimsy) decking on the harrow was a demonstration of the potential of real horsepower in practical applications. The field, in stubble, was being readied for min-till re-seeding.
The Sampsons and McDermotts are real. They work horses. Without work these horses are a menu item. Real horsepower is being used in practical and viable ways and may be as profitable, or more so, than conventional tractor use, in many situations.
Time to go came as we were to take in a visit to the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. Leaving the Sampsons and McDermotts we all hope to meet them again here or there.
If these people are typical of a significant part of SCHHA membership we would be very interested in keeping up our links, not only out of neighbourly friendship, but to avail of the inspiration they are to us.
Our visit to MERL would take another long report. The exhibits are really breath-taking and wide ranging. The staff was really friendly.
On the plane back we concurred that it was Lucky for us that they had a spot of rain in Alton as we got to see so much more and discuss a lot more than we ever could at a ploughing match. Maybe next year, if the weather holds, if the depression lifts, if we can afford it, if we are all OK, if we get our own farm work done and if we can at all, we might try the ploughing.
Seosamh Mag Fhloinn.
September 2012: Horse Fair in Bulat Pestivien/France
John Kennedy contacted the IWHA earlier this year looking for help putting together a presentation in France on the Irish Working Horse. John comes from the small village of Ballyferiter,about ten miles west of Dingle Co Kerry. His village is twinned with another small village in Britanny called Bulat Pestivien. Every september the oldest horse fair in Britanny is held in the village. It was not like fairs in Ireland as no horses were bought or sold, all horses were judged by three judges and graded accordingly for the sales a few weeks later. All the horses were "Breton" the local heavy working horse breed of Britanny.
Sandra our secretry then sent out a text to all members to see who could help and who would like to go to France and represent the IWHA. So i replied to the request willing to help out in any way i could. I had several meetings with John Kenndey who was very interested in our Association and what we were trying to do reguarding keeping the Working Horse alive in Ireland. With a lot of help from Sandra , John was able to put together a very good and informative visual presentation. I was in charge of getting DVD footage and thanks to John and Olive Forde in Newmarket Co Cork , Eamonn and Gearldine MacDonnagh Kilmaine Co Mayo and Miles and Gavin Frankil for their productions of the work they carry out on their farms.
I took the ferry from Cork to Roscoff with a group of musicans who were all part of the twinning and when we got to Bulat were greeted by the local people who were some of the most down to earth i ever met. I was also very lucky to meet the only man that was working Breton horses in the locality, along with his family. Serge le Louarn works his farm with his three Bretons in the summer and pulls timber for the winter. His total income is by working his horses and he says that he will not get ritch at it but it is possable!! At least in france anyway!! I got to see Bretons of all ages, Mares, Stallions , Colts and Fillys and find them to be a fine example of what a working horse should be in my eyes.
I was proud to represent the IWHA in France and hopefully i will get the chance again. William O'Sullivan, Vice Chairperson.
On the first weekend in September, one of our members, David Burton, helped the Heritage Boat Association to make an idea come true - to pull a traditional barge along the canal with a horse. By the sound of it, the event was a success and attracted a good crowd. Here are two links with photos:
September 2012: Harvest Day in Carrigaholt/Co. Clare
This successful community event was held for the first time in Carrigaholt in West Clare on the first Sunday in September. A great crowd turned up for free carriage rides, the mare and foal classes, kids entertainment, a small farmers' market and the working horse demonstrations which included a horse-powered threshing machine and hay turning with traditional horse-drawn implements. See photos of the evnt here.
August 2012: Working horse weekend at the McDonagh farm in Co. Mayo
Eamonn and Geraldine McDonagh held a working horse weekend at their farm in Kilmaine in Co. Mayo in mid-August and gave a warm welcome to a good number of IWHA members. The weekend started with an afternoon's logging in their woodland. About 4 acres of spruce had been thinned and prepared by Eamonn for hauling out the sawn wood with the horses. Eamonn's three cobs and Rob Steed's Ardenner mare were at work for about 4 hours and we were able to finish the job well before dinner time. The evening gave horses and members plenty of opportunity to relax on the McDonagh farm. We also got an extensive tour of their land and met various farm animals, including the pigs, ducks, hens, sheep, cattle and goat. The next day started fairly relaxed, and just before midday, Eamonn put two of his cobs to work in front of his self-built forecart. First, he used the harrow to prepare the seed bed, then he switched implements to the plough to make ridges ready for planting. Overall, it was a very interesting and enjoyable weekend. Thnak you very much to Eamonn and Geraldine for their hospitality! One of our members, Franz Schenk, put up his photos of the weekend here: http://southkerrycameraclub.blogspot.ie/2012/08/farm-work-with-horses.html More photos of the weekend can be seen here.
Most of the crew after finishing the logging job.
July 2012: Another logging day at Manch Estate/West Cork
Sandra unhitching a split ash log in the yard
whilst Herny poses for the camera.
Following the successful logging demonstration that took place in March this year at the Open Day of the INFF at Manch Estate/West Cork, Sandra Schmid and her Irish Cob Henry came back to the July Open Day and ran another demonstration. This time, they also did a talk and slide show on the advantages of using horses in the woods and important information for woodland owners on how much a horse can pull etc.
We hope to get a good group together to join us for the Taster Course in Horse Logging on 18th August which will be run by Sandra. Remember that this course is FREE for IWHA members!
For the first time this year, the IWHA was present at the annual show in Tralee. Thanks to Moss Trant, who is also on the show committee, for making us feel so welcome and announcing us over his (sometimes quite crackly) speaker phone, and thanks to William O'Sullivan for organising everything on the ground. A good crowd turned up, interested in our horses and machinery and wanting tom find out more about our association. Of course, this was a great opportunity to put up our brand new banner to demonstrate who we are - thanks very much to Tim Rowe for letting us use his photographs!
We hope to start up a library for all IWHA members. We hope that this way, information on working horses, including training, breeding, equipment, harness etc. can be made available to all members at an affordable fee. Currently, we are looking into how best to set up this ambitious project. Meanwhile, we are asking all members to make suggestions of books, videos, dvds, magazines etc. which they feel should be part of the library.
Please, send your suggestions to Sandra at email@example.com.
Of course, we also accept donations of books etc.!
31st March and 1st April 2012: Ploughing in Co. Clare
The ploughing days near Tulla in Co. Clare were a great success. The weather was perfect, and the ground had dried up, so conditions were pretty good. We had up to 6 teams ploughing at the same time. Different ploughs were tried, and different hitches - we had teams of two, three and four! There was plenty of opportunity to learn and experiment, and great progress had been made by Sunday evening, although there was still more to be ploughed.... A good few members attended, some for both days, and the nice lunch everybody shared only added to a most enjoyable and successful event! You can see more photos of the days here.
March 2012: Logging Demonstration at the Open Day of the Irish Natural Forestry Foundation
At the INFF Open Day on the first Sunday in March, IWHA Secretary Sandra and her Irish Cob Henry gave a horse logging demonstration at Manch Estate near Ballineen/West Cork. Many families made the best of the wonderful spring weather and came out for the day, to walk the woodland and to watch Henry at work. This was a great opportunity to show the effectivness of horse power in a delicate woodland full of wild plants. It was great to see so many excited children taking a real interest in what the horse was up to - maybe our horse loggers of tomorrow!? We hope to follow on from this successful day with another demonstration in summer where we plan a talk on the reasons for using horse power in forestry. More photos of the day can be seen here.
Henry pulling part of a fallen beech tree down the steep slope into the yard, with the help of Sandra (guiding Henry ) and William (guiding the log).
FECTU Annual General Meeting 2012 in Austria
On the last weekend in January 2012, the AGM of the European Working Horse Associaton FECTU (stands for "Fédération Européenne du Cheval de Trait pour la promotion de son Utilisation") was held in a small village called Bad Mitterndorf in the Steiermark region of Austria. FECTU is the European umbrella organisation for all groups aiming to promote the working and leisure use of draught animals - more about the aims and goals of FECTU can be read on www.fectu.org. The IWHA is not member of FECTU (yet) but we were invited to come along to the AGM as guests...and that's what I did - and what an experience it was! I am back now, inspired and encouraged, having met with members from 8 other nations and having spent many hours exchanging experiences and ideas, listening to what projects FECTU is working on to promote working horses amonst European communities as well as on a political level and in the farming and forestry sector. I was met with a warm welcome from this year's host association, the Austrian working horse association, www.pferdekraft.at, and well looked after throughout the weekend - which included accomodation in one of the beautiful traditional houses in the village, hearty food and drink, and sleigh rides through the snowy forest. It is reassuring to know that throughout Europe, there are people like us, trying to save the traditions and skills of working with horses and to promote and support the use of working horses! Here you'll find some impressions of my trip to Austria.
Horse-drawn sleigh ride through the winter forest to a lovely traditional mountain cottage where the FECTU AGM was held.
January 2012: Logging Demonstration at Brookfield Farm, Coolbawn. Co. Tipperary
On 12th January 2012, our first event for this year took place on member Ailbhe Gerrard's farm near Nenagh, where Tom Nixon worked in the forstery and members were invited to come along and watch for the day.
It was a beautiful day, magnificent scenery, and impressive and very skilled and professional horse power at work!
AGM of the IWHA 2011
_The AGM was held on Saturday 5th of November 2011 near Feakle in Co Clare. The minutes can be found here.
Bantry Agricultural Show / West Cork, September 2011
_The IWHA was present for the first time at this year's Bantry Show in West Cork with Sandra and her work horses. Despite the wild weather, many visitors came along to our stall and showed keen interest in what we are doing. Between the heavy showers, we even got to demonstrate some of the horse drawn tools we had brought along. We also did a few rounds in the show ring, which attracted quite a crowd of spectators. Hopefully, this will become a regular event on the IWHA calendar!
Sandra with her two Irish Cobs Henry and Winnie and this year's foal Flora in the Show Ring.
World Percheron Show / France, September 2011
A small group of IWHA members travelled to France where the Wolrd Percheron Show was held. You can find photos of the journey here.
South East Agricultural Show / Bridgetown, July 2011
_A successful and pleasant day out was had by all. Thanks to all
participating members and supporters, and in particular to Jim Cronin,
for getting this off the ground again this year successfully.
Harry with his two Percherons in front of the manure spreader.
You can see more photos from the day on our 'Photos' page.