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Backing for Shire horses on Hampstead Heath

Campaigners say the horses could be kept in purpose-built stables at the Parliament Hill staff yard

16 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Shire horses PIC: Timitrius

USING Shire horses for land management work on Hampstead Heath came a step closer this week when the City of London’s Heath consultative committee gave its support to the plan.

Shire horse enthusiasts Sarah Dawes, Tim Sanders and John Carrier have been lobbying Heath managers to investigate whether they could follow other large London parks and use the beasts to do some of the work currently undertaken by petrol-driven, 4×4 vehicles and tractors. Campaigners showed there was widespread public support for the idea through a petition which collected nearly 150 names in just an hour on the Heath.

They told the committee they had gone on fact-finding visits to Richmond Park and Capel Manor, open spaces where the traditional workhorses are used. The horses could be used in areas of the Heath that are hard to access and would fit with the City’s push to cut carbon emissions and protect the environment. The plan has been backed by actor Martin Clunes, who has Shire horses at his home in Hampshire. Campaigners say the horses could be kept in purpose-built stables at the Parliament Hill staff yard, or a partnership could provide stabling at nearby Kentish Town City Farm.

However, the cost of keeping the horses might mean that the City follows the lead of the Royal Parks and hires horse specialists for specific tasks. The committee was told Heath superintendent Bob Warnock would be drawing up a report to investigate how they could be used.

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