CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

No more tractors? Shire horses to be put to work on Hampstead Heath this weekend

Animals will be used after cross-country championships

22 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier

Shire horses [pic Timitrius]

A TEAM of shire horses will be working on Hampstead Heath this Sunday to help the land recover from the English National Cross Country Championships, held the day before.

The horses will be helping with ground restoration, tackling churned-up areas of the open space. Heath managers the City of London decided to bring in the horses after a campaign by Heath users – backed by actor Martin Clunes who is a shire horse enthusiast – to introduce the animals in place of tractors.

A petition to persuade the City of London to look into how the horses could be used received widespread support and last month the idea was ratified by the Heath’s consultative committee. Heath superintendent Bob Warnock visited Richmond Park, where the horses are used regularly, to see how they could fit in with the Heath’s own maintenance programme, and now, if successful, they could become regular visitors.

The horses come from a firm called Operation Centaur, who take the traditional working animals to open spaces across the South-East for contracts and shows. There is set to be a “meet and greet” session for Heath walkers to see them in action on Parliament Hill Fields near the running track, at 1pm on Sunday.

Heath management committee chairwoman Karina Dostalova said: “By using horses, areas which are difficult to access by tractor can be reached and the restoration work can take place soon after the races have finished.”

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