Horse Power! Day took place a few weeks ago down here on the farm and it was both successful and fantastic fun.
Preparation for the event took place the week before with the fields having muck spread on them and the horses getting groomed until they shone. The preparation was useful to both Ben and me as we learnt how to use the muck spreading machine (a machine imported by Richard from an Amish community in Canada). It was amazing to see and is much more efficient than the old fashioned way of loading muck onto a tumbrel, forking it off onto the field then going back and spreading it out by hand. The machine is loaded with muck and then the forward motion of the horses initiates the table of the machine, pushing the muck towards the back where it is picked up by rotating blades and flung into an arc out onto the land.
We were very lucky and on the day itself we had fantastic weather. It wasn’t too hot for the horses to work and it didn’t rain either. 19 horses were on site during the day and they took part in a variety of activities for the public to witness. We had a pair muck spreading, a pair disking, a single horse harrowing, and 4 pairs of horses taking part in a ploughing match. I had never seen a ploughing match before so it was a new experience for me. The general idea always appeared to be simple- plough the straightest line and you win. However, as I learnt throughout the day and have subsequently been informed on in much more detail, it is much more complex than it initially seems!
The straightness of the furrow is vital- the first draw across the field is of the utmost importance, but you also have to consider depth, distance, working speed of the horses and how much soil you push over as your plough moves forward. The match on the farm was taken seriously, although there were teams competing that had done very little or no ploughing at all in a competitive field so the public were able to see all sorts of styles and techniques.
Not only did we have horses out working but 2 of our own horses were on show in their stables, a pair of Shires were put together in all of their show gear and became very much admired. We were also lucky enough to have the fire service come down and demonstrate how they rescue horses and livestock from ditches etc with their rubber horse named Randy. This was very interesting and informative to watch and learn about however it did cause a bit of a stir when they left the very realistic looking Randy hanging from the grab of our tractor and people thought it was alive! Ray Hubbard also joined us in the farmhouse and entertained people with live music and stories from his past.
On the top site we were visited by a previous trainee Alex who worked in the forge making horse shoes for our horses and we also ran themed art attacks for our visitors.
Overall it was a fantastic day where I was able to learn a lot about horses and farming, and I can’t wait for next year!
Heritage Farming Apprentice