Sunday, 21 June 2015

30 Days Wild - Day 21 - Working Horses at Chailey Common

Day 21 gave me a chance to see some old friends. Monty, Ellie-May and Hamish are three Ardennes horses that I have previously seen logging in Wilderness Wood. They belong to the Working Horse Trust and can be seen doing various types of work around the area. This weekend they were bracken rolling at Chailey Common.  The Uckfield FM article, Working horses join the fight against invasive bracken, explains this conservation work.

Saturday, 21st June

I parked on the road just below Chailey Memorial Common and enjoyed seeing the wild flowers along this peaceful stretch of road.

Foxglove by huge oak trunk.
 Swinging off the road, I encountered a dampish patch full of lush ferns and red campion and caught a glimpse of a female blackcap.

Ferns and red campion.
I followed a little path through some woodland and up a slope covered in bracken and heather. I was just beginning to wonder where the horses were, when I saw them. The people from the Trust were putting their harnesses on, ready for work.

Monty - nearly ready.
I enjoyed watching the whole patient process sheltered from the wind by a sturdy oak. While I waited, I could hear a family of blue-tits calling to each other from within its welcoming branches.

Monty (Nearest) and Ellie May - Chailey Heritage in the background.
Monty and Ellie May (Nearest) rolling bracken.
The teams walked up and down, pulling the rollers that crush the bracken stems and weaken its growth. The drivers exert amazing control over these powerful creatures using just a few words and gentle touches on the reins. I was briefly distracted when I heard a shrill cry overhead and saw three buzzards overhead.

Hamish with the other team in the background.
Hamish up to his knees in bracken.
I managed to get a bit lost on the way back to the car but fortunately the Working Horse Trust people are as patient with daft, stray humans as they are with their horses and they got me back on course.


  1. Nice series. I've been doing the same on the other side of the forest:

    1. Thank you. I've just had a look at your posts - very interesting and well focussed. As you have probably gathered my approach is a bit more scattergun because I'm travelling backwards and forwards to Birmingham at the moment.