Heavy horses at Morden Hall Park

Heavy horses mowing the meadow 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 February 2018, Operation Centaur’s heavy horses visited the park for the first time to chain harrow our hay meadows. They returned to do a first cut of the meadows in April. Traditionally two cuts a year are needed for each meadow. The heavy horses are returning in late July and late August to make the second cut.

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.

Boy in the meadow at Morden Hall Park
Boy checks his buttefly net in the meadow at Morden Hall Park
Boy in the meadow at Morden Hall 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

Get involved

The Morden Urban Rangers are calling their community involvement events around the hay cuts ‘Cut to the Past’ and they want you to get involved. They’ll be helping to run the hay cut event in late August, and ran a stall to inform and engage the local community as part of London National Park City week in July.

" Come to our events. There is one where you can participate in the hay raking. You can find out more about what we are doing as well as the benefits of it."
- Morden Urban Rangers