Working Draft Horse Demonstrations at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Reader Contribution by Susan Melgren
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If you happened to get off the beaten path and wander over to the show arena at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR last weekend, you were in a for treat–working draft horse demonstrations!

Otto, center, and Jim, right, were an impressive sight to see. These American Belgian draft horses stand 17 hands tall and weight about 1,800 pounds each–which is small for this pair, according to horse logger Greg Lange (far left).

Although the younger of the pair at only 10, Jim “takes the reigns” in the relationship. “He’s the dominant one, but it takes two to get the job done,” Lange says. According to Lange, it’s a situation of big brother-little brother–except in this situation the little brother is the older of the pair! At 18 years old, Otto has more experience in the horse logging business. Although it might look like Otto is pulling less or working harder than Jim, Lange says Otto knows how to pace himself better. 

During the weekend Jim and Otto demonstrated their amazing power by towing a 1,600-pound log around the shown arena, a task they’re well acquainted with as part of Greg’s impact restorative forestry business. Greg describes restorative forestry as a single-tree selection technique, used to thin the forest for health. “I like using horses because it’s a natural, low-impact way to move the wood,” Greg says.

Greg’s business, Draftworks Horse Logging, is one of four that make up the Olympic Forest Guild. Other businesses included in the guild are Heritage Millworks, also owned by Greg Lange, an FSC-certified wood product business; Sitkum Tree Service, run by Conor Haggerty, an arborist; and S&L Portable Sawmill, run by Scott and Lynn Whitmore, which offers on-site custom cutting. Together the Olympic Forest Guild offers tree and timber consultation, low-impact harvest options and millwork manufacturing.

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