Beautiful, strong, eager and friendly, that is how Hans Sidbäck describes his working horses. Their jobs? Moving logs out of the forest, chopping grass in summer and plowing away snow in winter. And wedding transport – occasionally. Meet the North-Swedish drafthorses, some of the coolest guys in town.
Hans Sidbäck whistling (left) for his young horses, which come by immediately (right)
My classmates Pauline and Frida saying hello to one of the youngsters
It was a great start of the horse-course, having a look at a horse business. Our class was divided into four groups, each visiting a different type of horse facility. Our group spent a couple of hours listening to Hans Sidbäck and his wife Raili, who own North-Swedish horses for breeding and draft purposes. We were extremely lucky with the weather and strolled over the farm while we discussed many things, such as housing, feeding, equipment and horse education. Not only do they have a lot of experience working with draft horses, Hans is also famous for writing several books about forestry work with horses.
“In some cases horses are just more suitable for the job compared to machines.”
Hans and his horses are mainly hired by municipalities, such as the one of Uppsala. You would think that in ‘our modern time’ all the work is done by machines. At least, that was what I thought. I was happily surprised to hear that in some cases horses are just more suitable for the job compared to machines. For example if trees have been cut and need to be removed out of the forest a machine might be able to get the job done, but will make a mess of the tracks. Horses may take a little bit more time – and therefore money – but will leave very few traces, which is highly appreciated in forests close to communities.
A fascinating illustration about driving on steep terrain
From ‘The Horse in the Forest’, author Hans Sidbäck, drawings by Sigurd Falk
Hans and Raili have shown us not only their horses, but explained about the different machinery they use as well. Which is a lot, as every job seems to require different types of equipment. Also it was very impressive to learn how much weight two of these guys can move – up to 4000 kg(!) of timber if the terrain allows. It is always nice to hear someone speak with much passion for their animals and work, but it is even nicer when it teaches you many things you didn’t know about before.
ps. one last goodbye kiss!