THE clock has been turned back to the days before tractors and machines – by a coloured cob called Blue who is carving a new career as a traditional logging horse.
The 11-year-old heavy horse and her owner Chris Wadsworth have been recruited by the Forestry Commission to work in 360-hectare Guisborough Forest for the first time in nearly 20 years.
The project will see about 200 tonnes of sycamore removed to open up part of the woodland to allow other native species like oak to grow and improve recreational access to the forest's popular keep-fit trim trail.
Horse logging dates back many centuries and was once the way all timber was removed from woodlands before the advent of machines and caterpillar-tracks.
But it is still thought to have a part to play as horses are more manoeuverable and also tread lightly on sensitive and steep terrain.
Chris, from Guisborough, is one of the UK's top loggers and is now harnessing all his 21 years' experience to teach Blue the ropes.
“She has a very nice temperament and to say this is the first job she has done as a logger she is doing remarkably well,” he said.
“It takes some time to train a horse, but I've got high hopes Blue will cut the mustard as a first class logger.”
Blue's previous career has been variously spent hauling scrap carts, pulling a traditional Gypsy caravan and in a riding school. Her logging career could easy extend for another ten years.
The Forestry Commission's Ian Blair said: “It's a delight to see a logging horse back in the wood – the partnership between man and beast is thrilling to see.”