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One horse power

Most of us in the UK don’t seem to do much horse riding. I can only assume it is because it is so expensive to keep your own animal. Those that are prepared to spend the money, spend every day cleaning the stable out, feeding it expensive hay and going for rides seem to come from all walks of life. To each their own.

Well, I was watching a DVD yesterday and there was a man on his horse on there. It made me wonder about the many different types of horses we would have available in a disaster scenario. None of the horses I see when I am out in the country look anything like the old shire horses that have the greater strength for, excuse the pun, the donkey work. The horses I see look strong enough to carry a man, jump some fences and canter down the road but would they last long attached to a wagon pulling lumber? I have no idea but I suspect that they wouldn’t do to well. The breeds we want now are nice looking show horses and what we will need in a survival scenario are beasts of burden and horses for transport. The horses we have would be ideal, for some, as transport as they have been for centuries but are not built for toil.

Now, I don’t like horses, I’m scared of the big dozy beasts and they sense that and reciprocate by crowding me out. When I am in the saddle they rub me off against walls, trees and cause my vitals damage by their bodies coming up when I’m going down and the jarring impact is deliberate on their part. I can tell by the way they look at me.

However, if I remember correctly the shire horses, which we seem to be lacking, were the work horse of the farming industry. They were used for everything. Have we still got any left in this country? Do we still have the plows and other farming implements that can be used by horses. Everything seems to be done by tractor now. There are probably some farms where the horse pulled implements are out rusting in the fields.

I’m not clear in my own mind if we were in a position to farm the land as our forefathers did only as far back at the 1900s. Lack of suitable horses, although we would make do, and lack of equipment would be the issue. Plus in my case a skill in handling the animals. This would seriously limit our ability to toil the land and increase productivity beyond growing for yourself.

Anyone know anything about work horses and horse powered implements?

9 comments to One horse power

  • Skvez

    You’re probably right, it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything that looks like a shire/draft horse and horses aren’t going to be available in great numbers for breading. I think in terms of beasts of burden we’re going to have to use Oxen instead. These will be a lot more readily available.

    I also fear that the traditional beast-powered ploughs sitting in the corner of fields have rusted through long ago, there will be very few left. Even if the bulk of the ironwork still exists the small parts and tack will have rotted long ago.

  • Skean Dhude

    Mmmm, Maybe a market here for horse breeders like in the old Wild West.

    Won’t be me or one day they will find my trampled body in a field.

    I think you may be right about the tack and small bits but there are probably a few of these still in good nick in someones barn which have been forgotten.

  • joe

    There still are shire horses but they are mainly kept by breeders because they litteraly eat you poor.Ploughs and such are still a common sight around old farms (not the agriculture industry ones) but i doubt they would still be workable.They are mainly used as decoration but you could probably patch one up in a pinch afterall we preppers are one of the most resourceful people there are.

  • Skean Dhude


    Welcome and thanks for that. I have seen a few bits of farm gear around. If I had land I would guess it would be worthwhile looking at buying up some as scrap and fixing them.

    In a TEOTWAWKI sceneario hit Shire Horses would be worth their weight in something worth something. If the green agenda comes about we may see more of them anyway as they become more cost effective.

  • Skvez

    @ Joe
    When you say shire horses will eat you poor, I imagine the eat a lot but do they not eat whatever’s growing in your fallow field? Show horses need fed oates to keep them in top condition with lovely shiny coats but is this necessary with a shire horse?
    Similar to a working vehicle I don’t need the paintwork to look pretty as long as the engine runs (fairly) smooth.

  • Ronnie

    Not a shire, too big and not hardy. Get a native breed, eg. welsh cob or highland pony, don’t bother buying something with papers (obviously they now need passport). These horses will work all day once fit. Something about 14-15hh, will carry a man, a pack, haul your wood, a plough or cart.

    Riding is straighforward, most people can manage to hang on. But you’ll want lessons/practice to cover ground or obsticals like fences/walls fast, drive plough, cart, etc.

    Training a horse to draft is the thing that is nearly lost. There aren’t many people with the skill to get a horse working in harness, and very, very few horses that are trained to ride, drive and work a field.

    As for food, native breeds are hardy, I’ve never had a native in hard enough work for it to really need extra feed. In winter, they’ll need hay, and maybe some grain. But it’ll depend on your space and ground.

    Skvez: If you’re sowing the fallow with a decent mix of grass species, yes. If you’re planning a green manure or just to rest it and leave the weeds to accumulate, no.

  • Skean Dhude


    The reason I mentioned the Shires is because they are the only big hosses I know. Massive things.

    Horses have passports? Mine wouldn’t leave the country so I won’t bother. Seems like another tax to me. What a surprise.

    I think using horses is making a comeback. So hopefully it will become a skill again.

  • Ronnie

    Shires are huge, but too huge for general work.
    It is just another tax and layer or bureaucracy, brought in a few years ago, all horses have to have a microchip, put in by a vet and passport. Maybe there is a slight revival in using horses for logging & bracken bashing..? Would be good.

  • Skean Dhude

    Fair enough. Great, another hidden tax by our theiving lords and masters.

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