Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Horses › Drag harrowing on hillside
- April 27, 2014 at 8:19 pm #83177
We recently added a 10-year-old Suffolk-Haflinger mare to our farm. Ginger is a lovely mare temperamentally and she’s trained to work, so we’re really enjoying and appreciating having her. As far as her size, she’s 14.3-15H and maybe weighs 1100-1200#. So here’s the question: We have a two-section drag harrow, with each section maybe 4×5′. Assuming Ginger is able to pull one section without too much effort, we’d like to harrow a hillside field as the first step in restoring it. Parts of the field are steep enough that you wouldn’t want to run a tractor crossways, and the best we have managed over the years is to bushhog up and down. From what I’m describing, do you think we can safely drag the hillside with a horse? If so, what precautions do we need to take: Should we harrow crossways or up and down? Do we need extra-long driving lines to stay out of the harrow’s way? Is the harrow likely to slide downhill, or will the tines hold it in position? Will pulling it uphill be too taxing for the horse? Have I given enough info for you to understand what I’m asking? I’d sure appreciate any and all input from those who’ve had similar experience.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.April 29, 2014 at 5:01 am #83188
My feeling is that horses and operator can go relatively comfortably where a tractor cannot. I have disk harrowed some steeper sections without too much trouble. I would be surprised if your harrow slipped down the slope. I suggest dragging across the slope. Start on a section that isn’t too steep and see how you and your horse feel. If things feel good keep hitting steeper sections. Without seeing your set-up, I don’t think extra long driving lines should be necessary. I would drive uphill and to the side the harrow. Do you have a helper who can assist if things go awry?
GeorgeApril 29, 2014 at 9:58 am #83189
Thanks, George! This is exactly what I needed. Brian and I will be tackling the hill-dragging together, so definitely there’ll be backup. Don’t know if Ginger has pulled a drag (spike-toothed?) harrow before, so your recommendation to start on relatively level ground is all the more applicable. Also, going crossways and staying uphill make sense. Hopefully, all said and done, the experience won’t be too “harrowing”! Again, I appreciate your valuable input. CindyApril 29, 2014 at 10:18 am #83190
I routinely chain harrow our pastures along the contour with our team to avoid having them going up and down steep sections of the field. While the harrow does drift down the hill some, most of this can be managed by driving such that you account for the drift. Chain harrows can have a fair amount of draft depending on the length of grass, the newness of the tines, and the direction it’s pulled. Just be mindful of your girls level of fitness as you are working.
JohnApril 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm #83191
Hi all, Just want to add one thing. from experience! When dragging a harrow (any type) or other large, wide, dragging farm implement, (and the teamster is walking) it is essential to have lines long enough to walk all the way around it, and behind it. This may not be apparent at first as walking on one side seems to work fine. But eventually you will try to make a tight turn away from you, or your horses will shift, and the natural response of the teamster is to get behind the team. You may well end up on your belly on top of a harrow. It is safer; and easy to set up with rope if that is what you have, to make sure your lines are long enough to get behind the implement.April 29, 2014 at 7:25 pm #83199
One thing Brian just informed me is that the teeth will be set at a backward angle, so they should drag along the surface more than dig into the soil. Hopefully, easier on the horse. This pasture has been “sacrificial” for the past 15 years. Though it hasn’t (yet) suffered serious erosion and it is covered more or less with grass, the grass is very short and no doubt the roots are weak. That’s what we’ll try to fix. But, per your advice, we will certainly be mindful of Ginger’s capability and fitness. I also think we’ll go with lengthening the lines with some rope. It won’t hurt, and if it could save a hair-raising harrow-surfing experience, it’s worth the minimal effort to add. Thanks, all of you, for your expert recommendations! Getting your input has made me a lot more comfortable tackling this new task. Cindy
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