Heavy horses at Morden Hall Park
Heavy horses are once again cutting the hay meadows at Morden Hall Park. Old fashioned hay cuts using heavy horses have many benefits both to the natural environment and to the rare horse breed doing the work.
In 2018 we brought heavy horses in to harrow and cut our meadows for the first time in many years. One year on we are already seeing the benefits of using heavy horses over machinery to maintain our meadows. We're planning to continue to bring the horses back annually to harrow in February to help weaker plants to thrive by clearing dead matter and then to cut once in late June or early July to enable wildflower seeds to disperse.
Benefits of traditional methods
When compared to modern mowing machinery heavy horses offer a positive alternative with lower levels of noise disturbance, soil compaction and impact on flora and fauna as well as a much lower carbon footprint.
Flower meadows benefit from harrowing, cutting and raking with traditional working horses in the longer term too, slowly regenerating and allowing species to recover. We are hoping to see wildflowers we’ve never seen before in the South Park.
Keeping heavy horses in work
Operation Centaur uses Shire horses, one of several breeds of heavy horse. Heavy horses have been dramatically impacted by the increase in mechanisation in past decades and Shires are now listed on the Rare Breeds watch-list as “at risk”. Using these heavy horses as part of modern meadow management helps ensure that they remain with us into the future.
Find out more about Operation Centaur: http://www.operationcentaur.com/conservation
Getting the community involved
Check the What's On section of our website for details of community volunteering days around the hay cut if you'd like to get involved.