A COLOURED cob called Blue is carving a new career as a traditional logging horse.

The 11-year-old heavy horse and owner Chris Wadsworth have been recruited by the Forestry Commission to undertake horse logging in 360- hectare Guisborough Forest and Walkway for the first time in nearly 20 years.

They will remove about 200 tonnes of sycamore to allow other native trees such as oak to grow and to improve access to the forest’s popular keep-fit trail.

Horses are ideal for working in difficult areas and tread lightly on sensitive and steep terrain.

Mr Wadsworth, from Guisborough, is one of the UK’s top loggers and has 21 years’ experience.

He said: “Blue has a very nice temperament and, to say this is the first job she has done as a logger, she is doing remarkably well.

“It takes some time to train a horse, but I’ve got high hopes she will cut the mustard as a first-class logger.”

Blue’s previous career has included hauling scrap carts, pulling a traditional gypsy caravan, and a spell at a riding school. Her logging career could easily last ten years.

Ian Blair, from the Forestry Commission, said: “Access to this part of the forest is quite difficult and we have a power line running over the forest canopy, all of which points to the use of a horse rather than machine.

“Timber harvested will be used for firewood to meet the soaring local demand for green energy. It’s a delight to see a logging horse back in the wood. The partnership between man and beast is thrilling to see.”

Demand for timber is increasing, and with forest chiefs saying 50 per cent of local woodlands could be under-managed, horse logging could have a bright future.