Kate, her Ardenne horses – Kipp and young Sol, her sheep and hens, live on the outskirts of Monmouth. Rowan Working Horses do commendable work clearing woods in a way that won’t upset the wildlife – fumes and noise free! Kate works for for private woodland owners, the Woodland Trust, local authorities, the National Trust and other charities.
Why I do what I do:
Owning and living on my own land has been a long held dream and when working horses came into my life that dream became a reality. I have always worked outdoors, originally training in Horticulture and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I feel very passionately that there is very much a place for working horses in modern Forestry and I now manage to make much of my living with the help of my two Ardennes. They are a low impact woodland tool and we can access the sites where machinery can’t get in or is not welcome.
My own land is run organically with the Soil Association and alongside the horses I run a small flock of Balwen sheep, a rare breed Welsh mountain sheep and have a large flock of properly free-range hens whose eggs I sell locally.
It is sometimes a hard life choice but the job satisfaction and possibly a bit bizarrely, the pleasure of being physically tired at the end of each day far outweigh the times when you question what you do.
The working relationship I have with the horses is something that I treasure too. The trust needed to work together in often difficult conditions makes working as a team a special thing and I feel they look after me as much as I look after them.
Where I do it:
The land where we are based is near Monmouth in South Wales. It is really peaceful, no hum of traffic and yet I am well placed to travel out to contracts with the horses. The views are, to my eye very special and I feel contented when I get time to look upon them.
What drives me on:
I think I am very stubborn, hate giving up and have a strong belief that what I do is the right way to go both with the horses and the land. I also have strong support from my family and close friends some of whom helped me get started with the horses. I have reached a level now where I can give back and support other people who want to work horses in Forestry. It is a difficult industry to work successfully in and there is still much to do to prove the place for working in the woodlands with horses.
What I’m working on:
The next contract I go to with the horses is close to home…..a rarity. It is a 20 acre woodland that has been unmanaged for quite a few years. The timber felled and extracted last winter is currently being milled ready for sale, giving the woodland owner a better return on their timber. Next week we extract from the current compartment to come under restoration to a more traditional British native woodland. We are thinning out the soft woods to allow natural regeneration of hardwoods and encouraging an understory of Hazel coppice.
Kate is fully insured, an approved contractor on the British Horse Loggers Professional Register and being NPTC certified can also include the option of a felling service as part of the contract.
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