The Lenihan family have been in the business of horse logging for over 20 years.
Dad, Simon Lenihan, moved to the Lake District from Ireland to set up his company, Celtic Horse Logging, with the aim of promoting eco-friendly logging and to combat commercial forestry damaging the Lake District’s ecosystem.
The family carries out a number of operations across the whole country, including Balmoral estate.
The Lenihans come from a household steeped in tradition and the family business has a history in working with draft horses.
Celtic horse logging do not produce any carbon emissions or cause any damage to standing trees, giving the practice a very low carbon footprint.
By using horses, the process of logging is more effective when working in delicate areas such as bogs, by streams and in ancient woodland.
This is because they’re able to work in parts that large machines are not able to without decimating the area.
Heavy machinery can cause rutting, soil compaction and erosion, threatening the surrounding nature.
Machines press down on the soil, which causes water to run straight off it and increases the risk of floods, instead of being absorbed into the soil.
One of six sons, Mark Lenihan, has spent years watching his Dad work with horses and began learning the trade from an early age.
He says: “Recently we’ve had to go to locations that have been damaged by heavy machinery and we have to make a plan to work with the damage that’s already been done.”
Mark believes that the key to the company’s success is the close bond between the horse and the logger.
When practicing horse logging it is crucial to establish a strong relationship in order to maintain the horses trust when working together.
Mark adds: “Some horses have a closer bond with certain loggers depending on how long each logger has worked with them.
“For example, one of our Belgium ardennes stallions, Rosco, has created a close bond with my brother David. They’ve been working together for the last four years through all weather conditions, which has really built that relationship.”
To the Lenihans, the horses they work with are family, which is shown through how well they work together and makes the work they do even more enjoyable.
Mark continues to say how the relationship between the horse and logger is vital, he says: “There are some areas we’ll take them that are quite steep or the weather may be bad, causing some horses to back away. However when you have that key relationship with the horse they’re able to move forward.”
The tradition of horse logging may be an old one, but it can be brought back into modern day life, and help preserve and protect many historic and environmentally sensitive sites across the UK.
The Forestry Commission, National Trust and many wildlife trusts have all used horse logging in recent years.
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