Farmer gets help from horses

Adam MacInnis
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Stanley and Kate are an odd pair, Jim Wood will admit.

Jim Wood mows hay with his horses Stanley and Kate at his farm in Lansdowne, Nova Scotia.

Stanley is pure Belgian horse and has the chestnut coat typical for the breed. Kate, his half sister, is several hundred pounds lighter, is shorter and has a black coat courtesy of her Percheron mother.

"These two are so odd together that you'd never believe they'd make a team, but they make an excellent team both for work and pulling," said Wood who has trained the pair since they were colts.

The team recently won a horse pulling competition in Westville (Nova Scotia) adding to a long line of wins, Woods has won with his horses. But while many draft horses pull only when actually training for competition, Wood's horses earn their keep year round, from hauling logs in the winter months to ploughing in the summer.

The work keeps the horses in top shape and is a large reason why he believes he's been so successful in competitions.

"To them hooking on a drag is just another job," he said. "They don't really get apprehensive about it. As colts they were trained hauling rocks off these fields."

This time of year the horses are busy cutting hay. Woods has a sickle-style mower, which is wheel-driven that the horses pull.

"This is the Cadillac of mowers," he said.

While in the past he even baled with the horses, lately he's used a tractor to give the horses a break on that end.

The horses treat the work with the same nonchalant attitude they bring to their other tasks - although they like to nibble on the fresh hay as they await their commands to move forward.

"I wouldn't say they enjoy it," he said. "What I would say is it's natural for them to do it. It's what they're bred to do. It's a natural activity."

The same is true for him. He loves horses and to use them to work his farm is only natural, he says. He finds the horses are as fast at mowing as many tractors would be and in the woods they can get to spots no machine could while also causing less damage. Not to mention hay is a bit cheaper than diesel these days.

"It's practical," he says.

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Organizations: Cadillac

Geographic location: Westville, Nova Scotia

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