Monday, 25 November 2013

Heavy Horses

At times I am staggered by the pace of change that has engulfed the world.

Not much more than a decade before I was born, horses pulled the ploughs and carts that had been the engines of agriculture for more years than most people care to count.  I was born just in time to see the tack of the horse age lie unused and abandoned in old barns and farm buildings - its use not just a memory but a reality for many people.

I also saw the consequence of the sweep of machines across the landscape - machine food, machine beer, machine landscapes: the loss of the small, the delicate and wild.

Today I wonder what it must have been like to walk behind the plough and talk to the horses that pulled them - unimaginably hard I suspect.  But rose tinted glasses make me want to find out.

Now we only see heavy horses as the strange cousin of race horses or show jumpers.  The circus side freak show of modern horses.

As a kid I learned the words to this song - and sang it as the players arm tracked down the great spiral to the middle.  It's only now that I think I have some understanding of what I missed and what I wanted to see.

Iron-clad feather-feet pounding the dust,
An October's day, towards evening, 
Sweat embossed veins standing proud to the plough, 
Salt on a deep chest seasoning.
Last of the line at an honest day's toil,
Turning the deep sod under,
Flint at the fetlock, chasing the bone,
Flies at the nostrils plunder.
The Suffolk, the Clydesdale, the Percheron vie
With the Shire on his feathers floating.
Hauling soft timber into the dusk

To bed on a warm straw coating.

And one day when the oil barons have all dripped dry
And the nights are seen to draw colder
They'll beg for your strength, your gentle power
Your noble grace and your bearing.
And you'll strain once again to the sound of the gulls
In the wake of the deep plough, sharing.

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.  SM 


  1. prachtig on z,on mooi vierspan te zien,nog een hele kunst om daar vandaag de dag mee door het verkeer te gaan.

  2. HI Stewart Yes it is a bygone time although the Amish people still use horses and ploughs.Isaw them plooughing with 6 horse troup and it looked so wonderful and peaceful.

  3. Living in horse country (Central Kentucky) I am always struck by the beauty of horses. I hope people never lost sight of their beauty and their majesty. They are a huge part of our culture here :)

  4. Magnificent animals Stewart.
    Gentle giants of the horse world.

  5. Wonderful post, Stewart! I'm a horse lover from way back (Way Back!!). The good ol' days - where have they gone??

  6. If only we could return to a simpler time. Beautiful animals, and great shots!

  7. I am currently reading a book (a series really) where all the machines have ceased to function, even gunpowder no long works and everyone who has survived have had to relearn how to live without technology. I don't think I'd make it.

  8. Beautiful, magnificent horses and I, too, wish we could return to simpler times!! A terrific post for the day, Stewart! Thank you for sharing!!

  9. I just love horses. I have always imagined that if I got out of the city life and moved to a smaller town, I would invest in some horses. There is something so magical about them.

  10. Lovely nostagic post....As a child, I knew a few people who farmed with horses (they were a novelty, I'm not quite that old that it was commonplace.)

    Also those big old Clydsdales are a trademark of a very popular beer over here and they do exhibitions with them and in fairs and parades pulling the beer wagon...

  11. Beautiful horses! When I lived in the mountains of North Carolina in the 1970s, my neighbor still plowed with mules and I loved to watch him and hear him talking to them. I, too, would love to go back in time and experience a different existence.

  12. They are beautiful!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River.

  13. They are beautiful horses. Here there are used for the Budweiser beer commercials and are on display at the Busch Gardens amusement parks. Wonderful shots, have a happy week!

  14. You speak for yourself I remember drays pulling wagons round Reading taking barrels of beer to the pubs, beautiful sight. There are still many here. Nice to see they are appreciated down under.

  15. Yes, life seems to go by in a 'blink' ~ Wonderful post and gorgeous photos of nature's beautiful creatures ~ thanks, carol, xxx

  16. Ah, draft horses are so neat. Thanks for the great post and photos too.

  17. Gorgeous horse shots.

    The world is indeed developing faster and faster.

  18. Beautiful horses!
    Hope you are having a wonderful day!

  19. These are wonderful shots of beautiful draft horses. We do see the Amish in our area using Belgian draft horses in their fields.
    I love that poem!