Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Sustainable Living and Land use › Sustainable Forestry › Logging: Shoes or no shoes
- August 20, 2016 at 11:33 am #89299LarsPrillamanParticipant
Hey all. A friend of mine with a really awesome land management company is looking at a long-term woods thinning project for a non-profit wildlife refuge nearby. They want it logged with draft power for the lower impact benefits and I’ve been asked to partner as he doesn’t have or know drafts and i’m very close to the location. This would be my first time in the woods to fell and skid outside of my own farm and I wondered about my horse being shod. I know there are shoes for logging with calks etc, but part of our barnyard (an old dairy) is concrete. I don’t want to have her shod and on our off days back at the farm have her throw shoes and have to have it redone. Do most folks not bother with shoes or are there boots that can be used instead?
LarsAugust 20, 2016 at 12:48 pm #89300Rick AlgerParticipant
Search “hoof boots”. Some good discussion of this question there. One option not covered is shoeing just the fronts using a flat shoe with drilltec spots. This has served me well under moderate conditions.August 22, 2016 at 5:01 am #89306Donn HewesKeymaster
In the last two days I wrote two great responses, but both were lost to the internet. Darn!
I think horse loggers have several reasons for using shoes, but they are very specific to their productive goals and working situations. In some cases horses may pull more logs in a day with shoes on. On some icy days shoes might be the only way you can work. In some environments rocks and slopes might dictate shoes.
For most farmer – loggers that do not need to make a production quota each day skidding logs with out shoes is fine. I have skidded many big logs out of the woods with barefoot horses. There are a few days when I don’t work due to ice, and there are a few times when I have chosen to take a longer route rather than pull something up a steep short hill.
A cart, log arch, or some other means of getting the front of the log off the ground, however is essential for working with logs bigger than small firewood poles. These tools are what multiply the power of the horses and preserves the woodland soils. good luck.September 13, 2016 at 6:47 am #89409Brad JohnsonParticipant
Up till quite recently I was logging full time with my horses here in Central VT, and I have run singles and teams in the woods shod and bare. I can say for myself, with absolute certainty, that a shod horse is a better choice in the woods. Here are the advantages that shoes provide :
1. traction – around here there is little to no flat ground with trees, so all logs go up down and over to get to the landing. Shod horses have better traction for heavy pulls and also for braking on the steeper downhills. This is particularly helpful when using a log arch, which I am on most of the time in when there is not deep snow on the ground.
2. protection for their feet – I would not go to work everyday wearing bare feet or sneakers as my feet would take a beating and I do not do so with my team either. The shoes help protect the sole and hoof wall, both in the woods and also when I have to travel over pavement to get from the barn to the job. A well set set of shoes will not have any trouble over pavement.
3. confidence – a horse with good traction is a more confident horse at the end of the lines, particularly when backing in the woods with an arch or cart. Shoes allow the horse to work with the confidence needed to be successful.
Now, there are downsides to shoeing:
1. Cost – if you can’t do your own you are looking at $400 every 8-10 weeks (around here anyways)
2. damage from nail holes to hoof walls and soles – I try to keep my team bare at least a month or two a year to let their hooves recover a bit and grow as the would naturally before I put shoes back on after mud season in the spring.
For me, the benefits greatly exceed the downsides, and I keep my teams shod at all times when they are working commercially in the woods.
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