Modern technology has given today’s farm a lot of advantages – but is it always the best choice? Tractors and other farm equipment can be costly to purchase and maintain, can compact the soil, and dirty up the air on your farm. For a possibly more economical, and definitely more organic choice, consider using draft horses on your farm.
Using horses gives you more options than mechanical farm equipment. They can pull a carriage or farming tools, can be ridden, teamed up or used alone. They run on sustainable fuel (crops that work great as cover crops), produce manure for your land, and maybe even more horses to sell or replace older models.
Lest you think that draft horses are all monstrously huge and will eat more than they are worth as labor, consider a few smaller draft breeds. Small draft breeds include Haflingers, which have striking chestnut coats and flaxen manes, are around 14 hands and under 1,000 pounds and are bred for a good disposition. Norwegian Fjords are an ancient breed dating back to Viking times, and pack a lot of strength into a small package. Gypsy Vanners are about the size of an average light horse but with a stockier build, and have extremely good temperaments, making them a good choice for beginners.
Try to find someone with experience working with draft horses to show you the ropes of farming with horses. It is a learning experience for both you and your horse, and not something to jump into lightly. But the rewards of working your land with a strong, gentle friend rather than a gas guzzling machine is worth the time and effort.