Horse drawn extraction systems should be considered for:
> Ancient semi-natural woodland (ASNW)
> Plantations on ancient woodland sites
> Riparian woodlands
Ecologically sensitive areas
Amenity woodlands
> Under managed woodlands
> Woodlands with limited access
> Steep sites
> Quality timber stands
> Seed tree extraction
> Wind blown trees

Horse drawn timber extraction

Sustainable Management Options
for Land Owners and Managers

Frankie Woodgate
Telephone: 01233 850418
Mobile: 07929 202 963

Natural Traction

The vital role that horses play as a method of timber extraction is now recognised within the woodland and forestry sector.

An environmentally sensitive management technique, horse drawn timber extraction offers the woodland manager and owner a viable low-impact alternative in situations where the use of machines may either be inappropriate or uneconomic.

Natural Traction is a company dedicated to the goal of sustainable land use. With many years practical and research experience in the field of sustainable woodland and countryside management, we offer a range of services from felling and extraction to management planning, grant applications and habitat creation, restoration and management.

The Natural Traction team offer a professional,
efficient and versatile timber extraction and
woodland management service.

Horses provide a means of timber extraction that minimises:

> damage to regeneration
> damage to stools and standing crop
> compaction, ruts & damage to woodland floor
> noise and fuel pollution, and fossil fuel use

As with mechanised systems, horse drawn
extraction outputs are reliant upon a number of important operational considerations;
> access to timber
> extraction distance
> site topography
> presentation of felled timber
> product type

Given the above factors single horse drawn extraction output can vary between 7 and 20 tonnes per day.

Late in 2005, Frankie applied for a grant to expand the business from the Forestry Commission's 'Woodland Harvesting, Processing and Marketing Grant' Pilot Project. The grant contributed 30% of the capital invested, allowing her to purchase a second horse, a horse-drawn forwarder and a horse lorry for transport.

You can find out more about Frankie's project on the following 'Woodlots' page: Frankie WHPMGs

An evaluation of the WHMPG pilot scheme can be found here on the Forestry Commission's website


Using tractors and sprays to eradicate bracken is expensive and undesirable on many sites

The horse drawn bracken bruiser crushes the stem of the plant in several places and causes the sap to bleed. This desiccates the plant and weakens its ability to store nutrients for the next year's development.

Bruising is carried out after the growing season from the end of June to August, and has many advantages such as:

> weakens the plant far more than cutting
> is chemical free
> breaks up the deep litter layer, speeding decay
> is not dependent on weather conditions
> is particularly cost effective on rough, sensitive or inaccessible sites ·

Studies have shown that regrowth is limited by 50-90%, although this varies according to site conditions. A three to five year bruising regime may be required for total elimination on bracken covered sites. One to two hectares (2.5 – 5 acres) can be managed in one day.


We can also offer a consultancy and management service. Whether you’re a new or experienced landowner we can visit and work with you to identify and achieve sound management objectives for your farm, woodland or amenity site.

For more information contact:

Frankie Woodgate
Telephone: 01233 850860
Mobile: 07929 202 963

Natural Traction has received grant aid from


If you are interested in learning to work with heavy horses, we can tailor courses to suit your needs and experience.

From one-day introductory sessions to five-day courses in ‘Working Horses in Woodlands’, we offer training events in our own ancient semi natural Woodland or can provide similar courses on your own land.

Natural Traction is run by Frankie Woodgate who has a BSc in Countryside Management and spent a number of years researching the role of horses in UK and European forestry. With a longstanding practical background in woodland management and working horses in forestry and woodlands, Frankie manages her own ancient semi natural woodland (ASNW) with horses and has written a number of articles on horses in forestry.

References for Natural Traction are available from private landowners, the Forestry Commission, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust.

Fully insured and NPTC chainsaw certificated
Member of the British Horse Loggers (BHL)

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