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Author Topic: Horse Logging  (Read 2573 times)

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Offline dirthawger

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Horse Logging
« on: October 06, 2017, 03:29:25 am »
I currently run a small stump grinding business and have been really wanting to get into horse logging. My big problem is i have no horse experience or logging experience. Is it even possible to learn this trade on your own? And how do you go about finding work? Just advertise in the paper? Thank you for any help.

Offline Blue Noser

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 05:20:09 am »
I would start by contact a local government forester/forestry department and/or woodlot owners association. These people may have knowledge of local contractors who offer this service, or could guide you in the right direction.

Also, what area are you located in? Someone on here may be able to help if they know where you are located.

Good luck!

Offline 47sawdust

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2017, 06:57:35 am »
You will be way ahead of the game by working with someone who has many years experience logging with horses.It is a skill that requires an even temper,good physical condition,and foremost,the utmost respect for your working partners.
You also need good horses or mules,not all of them are well suited to this type of work.
 There is no greater pleasure than returning to the barn with a team after a good days work.
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Offline VAMuleskinner

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2017, 07:43:28 am »
Kind of saying the same as 47sawdust but find someone that can teach you a thing or two.  I started using a team of mules and it was a HUGE learning curve.  I trained them myself and started logging part time with them.  Luckily my mules were somewhat forgiving on my stupidity.  Not only are you dealing with animals but the way you fell and plan your cut has to be planned for the use of animals.  I started using only the mules but I found that my situation was better using mixed power (animals/machinery), using the mules to skid and bunch the logs on a trail and a tractor to pull the hitch to the landing.

Offline Magicman

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2017, 08:19:03 am »
Your questions and experience indicates that you are sorta getting the "cart before the horse", so to speak.  I doubt that you can just go to the horse lot and buy animals that are suitable and trained for your intended purpose. 

I am not trying to be negative, but I would concentrate on the animals first.  I view this as a long term venture and commitment. 
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Offline luvmexfood

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2017, 02:29:51 pm »
Years ago my father and I bought two horses that had been used for logging. Logging on extremely steep hills. Both, but one was worse, if they felt any slack in the chain pulling the load took off. Full gallop. The best one you could hook a couple of hitches to him and take him to the landing. After he learned where it was all you had to do was hook him and send him on his way. He took the logs to the landing and stopped and waited for someone to unhitch him. If the log got hung up on something he would ease off the pull and step over and usually get it loose. There's a reason they are called work horses. Having plowed a lot of tobacco with them it is a lot of work.
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Offline Wallys World

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2017, 05:41:13 pm »
Maybe FF member "Horselog" can give you a good idea what is involved.
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Offline killamplanes

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2017, 11:17:28 pm »
Funny this topic come up. I was just having a conversation about this today. Couple years ago I was on a track cutting, skidder skidding etc. A neighboring landowner paid a visit. Said he skidded with horses in past but not a full time logger. Well long story short he offered free to me he would skid some if I would drop them during week he skid on weekend. We'll a week into this I either cut to fast or he skidded to slow with the team. Long story short he payed me a visit again. By this time I was rollin thru it with the skidder. We sat there and talked comparing things, and we figured if I payed him 20 bucks an hour I would go broke and he would have to figure out if he would eat or his horses. I'm not being negative towards it. But he said for the hitch and turn times I had with a little 440 skidder with 15-25 gallons a day it wasn't feasible for his time. And he had to usually cut tree to 8-12ft logs, and not take tree length to landing.  He had fun and I got a semi load or 2 logs to landing for free so we both were winners. His horses were the anheiser busch big ones and they pulled wagons, rake hay, about anything and you could tell he worked with them alot. Still see him around and we have great mutual respect for each other..
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Offline dirthawger

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2017, 11:18:47 pm »
Goodness, talk about a lot of great informative answers. Yes I will admit Im putting the cart before the horse because #1 Ive never worked with horses and #2 I know nothing about logging (i don't even know what a landing is).  But having said that I'm willing to learn. I live in Shreveport, LA, and Im a coal miner running a side stump grinding business.

Offline dirthawger

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2017, 11:22:53 pm »
You bring up a good point, while the idea of horse logging sounds great, I do need to make money and not sure if that's possible with horses. Im open to other ideas for a small one man profitable logging business.

Offline thecfarm

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2017, 06:12:50 am »
Not knowing about both,is hard to make money. But the money part is not the worse part,your safety is what I am more concerned about.
Horses can be dangerous being around,they more move when you don't expect it and drag a log over you. Doubtful,but never know. Than felling the trees can be dangerous too. You need to know what trees to cut and what to leave. You need to know the market of the logs. Some species sell good at a certain time,some sell better. Then there is bucking the logs to length. The market might want 10-12 footers,maybe only 9 feet 6 inches. And on and on it goes.
We do have a dictionary. Go up to the "Home" bar,it's kinda on the top of this page.  Starts out with Home,Help,Search. Go over to Extras,a drop down will appear,click onto Foresty Forum Dictionary. Than click onto a letter for what you are seaching for. Landing is in there.
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Offline Rick Alger

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2017, 01:05:23 pm »
I'm retired now, but I've done a fair amount of horselogging. The advice so far is right on. Learning from someone who is cutting with horses for a living is the key. That someone may be hard to find.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2017, 02:57:51 pm »
First things first.. Go find your log buyers.  You never invest in equipment without first finding your market.


Go to the sawmills.  Get the price sheets, get the cut length specs.. Talk to the scaler or owner at each place.  "Hey bud, im joe.  Doing some market research, thinkin about buying a skidder.  What are the worst mistakes you see come in here every day?  What logs are you sawing here (vs reselling to another mill.. Called yarding. Which cant pay you as good as that mills primary product.)

Take your time and dont rush into logging.  Transition from stump grinding into it.  Remember.. Loggers get about 50/50 cut of the timber.  If you were CHARGING a landowner for land clearing with your excavator, crawler loader, dozer et ... Then youd get 100% of the logs.  Youd be able to wiggle a toe and learn the ropes of log selling on a fee basis.. Where the owner of the logs is paying you.  When youre a logger, you gotta buy the log.  Sooo much less room for error. And the early years are FULL of errors. 

As for horses.. I need a horse like i need a hole in my wallet.

Offline Horselog

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2017, 04:38:47 pm »
I've been horse logging now for about 15 years, and we're now doing some equipment logging too, but usually a hybrid system using horses and a forwarder. 

Horse logging is a very hard business to learn.  It's so much more than hooking to logs with horses and pulling them out of the woods.  You need knowledge and experience with the general logging/forest products industry, forest management knowledge, and business and negotiating skills to be successful.  You also need some light equipment, a skid steer and small truck is a minimum, depending on your area.  The biggest thing you need to do is position yourself apart from the industry as far as quality of product, or else you'll fall prey to the John Henry syndrome: John Henry beat the steam hammer, but then keeled over and died.  You can't compete with heavy equipment using horses, so don't even try.  You have to spend the time and effort marketing yourself as having a superior/different product than equipment logging.  As long as you try to get conventional jobs you'll never make it.  If you can establish that you can do a better job than someone with loads of heavy equipment, you'll be able to charge more for your work.  Which brings me to two other points: 1) Your clients will be different than a company with heavy equipment and 2) horses work best in a management scenario where you're doing a somewhat light select cut and where reducing residual damage is important. 

A lot of my work is on properties that wouldn't have been cut if I wasn't doing it with horses.  They don't even consider equipment as an option most of the time, so if they want to log they accept the lower income for themselves because of the enhanced product we're offering. 

But sometimes I get jobs that other equipment operators considered, but because of the nature of the select cut, they aren't interested in the lower production involved.  And sometimes I just get good jobs that any logger would want because I have the ability to pay larger stumpage lump sums up front, and the owners were willing to what felt like a large sum up front, even though for the amount of timber being sold it wasn't very much.  All of this requires skills and knowledge of the logging industry, as well as contacts. 

Then there's the basic skills of felling timber, skidding with horses, bucking, loading, and hauling that you have to be good at. 

If you're starting from scratch with none of these skills, expect 2-3 years losing money, breaking even if everything goes awesome.  Then another couple years not making much, until eventually you can make decent living.  But this is not a way to get rich, and especially not to get rich quick.  You could cut a lot of these numbers shorter if you were able to work for someone already doing it and being successful, preferably for a year or more.  That's not going to be easy to find.  Although any logging experience will help some, even if it's heavy equipment logging.

I'm not trying to scare you, I'm trying to give you the realistic picture of what you're looking at.  There's lots of little niches you can fill, such as specialty skidding situations such as golf courses or power line right of ways, or other sensitive or special areas.  You can move a little more into the tree service side of things and do a little "backyard" logging, but all of this depends heavily on your marketing ability, as well as logging ability.

There's lots more that could be said, but I'll stop for now. I can answer questions if you have them.
Benjamin Harris
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Offline grouch

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2017, 07:17:28 pm »
[snip]

A lot of my work is on properties that wouldn't have been cut if I wasn't doing it with horses.  They don't even consider equipment as an option most of the time, so if they want to log they accept the lower income for themselves because of the enhanced product we're offering. 

[snip]


Of all the excellent info in Horselog's comment, the above stood out most to me. My property won't be conventionally, mechanically logged while I'm above ground.

There's not enough of it to make access roads fit for machines big enough to handle both the terrain and the trees. (I've been trying for over 2 years to map out a least-destructive track for a 2wd tractor to get to the 'bottom'). The slopes, drainage and location of the trees would require more than one trail to be cut for conventional logging.

Horses or mules could likely get to every tree on the place and get it out without damaging the land or other trees. That low impact on the land is more important to me than higher potential dollars from the logs.
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Offline Grizzly

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2017, 07:48:54 pm »
I agree with what I'm reading. The fellow hiring horses to log is a very unique person who has particular ideas and isn't worried if the world disagrees with him. If I had horse knowledge and a horse or two I could access a bunch of small woodlots that simply won't consider mechanical logging. But I don't so I'm thinking about small skidders or tractor attachments where I can get very long skid ropes onto and simply reach into those small woodlots. I like the whole concept of horse logging and would pay a premium to hire someone.

Dirthawger - you've got a real project ahead of you and reality needs to be looked at but don't quit. Take your time and see what you can accomplish. Find good people to mentor you as has been mentioned.
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Offline WV Sawmiller

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2017, 09:24:19 pm »
   I had a man with mules and experience come haul for me last year. See this thread

http://www.forestryforum.com/board/index.php/topic,90576.msg1394287.html#msg1394287

    I enjoyed it immensely but learned real quick it was real hard work and you needed a lot of skill, special equipment and experience working with these animals. I would never think of trying to start something like this without a pretty extensive internship with someone who knew how to work such animals. It is hard and it can be very dangerous . From  what I saw there are lots of much easier way to make money. You could not do it for the money - you would have to do it because you loved the horses/mules and being in the woods.

   I see it as a special niche market. You'd have to market yourself as a low impact logger and find customers willing to pay more for you to haul a load of logs off their property with mules than their next door neighbor would be willing to have the same load hauled with machines.

    Good luck but get some more experience before you get too much further into this idea.
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Offline dirthawger

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2017, 11:14:54 pm »
Well.... after hearing what y'all have to say, id say im more interested in logging more so than horse logging. Horse logging is something i might like to tinker with but i run equipment for my fulltime job so that way i wouldn't need to learn 2 skills although running a skidder is probably a lot different than running a dozer. My main goal would be to make money and sounds a lot harder to do with a horse.  I already know the answer to this but should i work for a logger for a while to learn? I get lots of days off through the month and it works out to be i work 6 months a year.  But i don't know many employers that would give me a flexible schedule so it wouldn't interfere with my job or my stump grinding jobs i get.  And how do you guys go about finding work? Ive never seen any advertising for logger work. As far as equipment goes, what would i require for a one man operation? I got a tractor, a 1 ton and a trailer right now.  Thanks for yalls help.

Offline VAMuleskinner

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2017, 03:54:43 pm »
Tractor, truck, and a trailer is all you need to start with.  Others may disagree with using tractors but tractors have been used in the woods for a long time.

Offline dsgsr

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Re: Horse Logging
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2017, 05:52:56 pm »
I know this won't be very popular but.

Volunteer, or work for peanuts. Back in 2012 I wanted to get my CDL Class A drivers Lic. I talked with a contractor about driving one of his trucks on the weekends. I just told him I wanted to get my CDL and needed experience. He knew of me and knew I wasn't a slacker, so he tried me out one Saturday. I got my learners permit and ended up working the hole summer working Sat. and Sun. hauling stock pile. After a month he told me to take gravel home for payment, who can't use some gravel. At the end of the summer he loaned me a truck and a Class A driver to take my test. For the next two summers I worked weekends I was available and bartered for gravel. Every once in a while he would give me a few hundred. I now have my own construction buiz.

David 
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