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Developments at Detmold
Developments at Detmold

Developments at Detmold

by William Castle of Shropshire, England
with additional photos by Diana Zeuner

Whilst on a trip to Germany at the end of August I took the opportunity once again to visit Pferdestark, the biggest gathering of work horses in Europe, which takes place every other year in the north German town of Detmold. Pferdestark is a honey pot for people from across Europe interested in the practical application of live horse power, as well as those who just like to see the big horses, so by the time I arrived half an hour before the start, visitors from far and wide were already flooding onto the site around the old post windmill overlooking the open air museum and the town. Over the next two days more than two hundred horses took part in the driving, logging and ploughing competitions, the equipment demonstrations and the main ring attractions which included draught horse football and a Dutch game where the riders have to spear a suspended ring whilst riding at a gallop.

Developments at Detmold

But my main interest was to see the horse drawn machinery, and the changes and developments in technology since my last visit. But the biggest change was actually on the way to Pferdestark, travelling by train through the north German countryside, where since my last visit the number of electricity generating windmills has increased dramatically, as Germany makes strides to meet its responsibilities in tackling climate change. At Pferdestark itself, of course, an older form of renewable power was centre stage, as the horses and mules showed what they could do. Although in mainstream society working animals scarcely figure in the moves to reduce our impact on the planet, many of the people at Pferdestark are involved with working horses partly for environmental reasons, whether it be working on organic or biodynamic farms, or in areas with nature conservation status, including woodland and forestry. And it was also this group of people that were behind many of the improvements in animal drawn machinery at this year’s event.

Developments at Detmold

For anyone familiar with recent developments in horse drawn machinery, none of the innovations this year were particularly earth shattering [pun intended] or radical in concept. And that is probably how it should be, as when working with natural processes and limited power, we know that small changes can make a big difference. So I was just as interested by the gradual developments and improvements to existing designs made in response to experience in the field, as the completely new machines.

Developments at Detmold

In contrast to North America, where some of the machinery is produced by manufacturing companies, most of the equipment presented at Pferdestark has been developed by individuals who have a passion for working horses and a flair for engineering, but some had been put together collaboratively by groups of people who share a common aim. In their commitment to producing worthwhile pieces of kit despite the market here being small, these designers and engineers are providing a very valuable service to those of us who use horses. We are lucky to have them.

Developments at Detmold
Doug Joiner’s versatile forwarder. The shafts are Scandinavian style, ending at a point where the back band, belly band, trace and britchin all join together, so giving only one point of attachment to the shafts. The low rear end of the shafts helps the front wheels ride over logs and uneven ground, as do the walking beam rear wheels, and the heavily studded tyres prevent side slip in slippery conditions. The forwarder can be used as shown in the photo, or the front axle can be used on its own, after the rear part is lifted off the ball hitch, the front cross beam being replaced by an arch for skidding logs to the trail. The rear section can also be used on its own with a forecart, in which case the mesh can be reversed to give a longer length of drawbar. Both bunks and the rear axle can be moved along the central beam to help balance the load.
Developments at Detmold
Visitors inspect the line up of equipment. In the foreground is the simplified Hisko 3 point cart [without pto] showing its unique lifting mechanism which pushes the wheels backwards as the implement is lifted, which helps its stability.
Developments at Detmold
A selection of Equivinum’s row crop attachments.
Developments at Detmold
Kay Stoltenberg’s Boulonais team with a Hisko combination forecart and trailed 3 point cart, operating a Kuhn rotary rake. This development of the hitchcart features a hydraulic drive to the pto shaft, and also a hydraulic cylinder to cushion the load from the double tree, which also gives a readout of how much effort the team is exerting.
Developments at Detmold
The Austrian organisation for the promoting of working horses, Östereichishes Interessengemeinshaft Pferdekraft, put together this ground drive, self-loading hay wagon, by adding the ground drive mechanism and front axle to this older model machine, made by Pöttinger. The drive comes from one of the wheels, via a chain drive, through a gearbox and clutch to the baler type pick up reel. To unload, a lever unhooks the spring steel bands that form the bottom of the vehicle, dropping the hay on the ground, and the wagon is pulled forward.
Developments at Detmold
Developments at Detmold
A Fella hay rake converted to ground drive by Hermann Hauser from Switzerland, Reinhard Merton-Melching driving his pair of Rhinish-German coldbloods [Rheinisch-Deutsches Kaltblut].
Developments at Detmold
Norbert Möller’s powered three wheel forecart running a double reciprocating finger bar mower. François Barchon’s four up of mules were more than enough to pull this set up, but were a popular sight and worked together beautifully.
Developments at Detmold
Erhard Schroll, the editor of the German language draft horse magazine, Starke Pferde, driving a six up with a hitch cart and trailed plough. In Germany, and the rest of Europe, the use of big teams was unknown, so this six horse rope and pulley hitch was a novelty, the hitch consisting of Erhard’s three Rheinisch Deutsch Draught horses in the wheel position, and three horses brought especially from Sweden for the event in the lead, Roland Wirenborg’s Swedish Ardennes on the near side, Lars- Göran Görensson’s North Swedish Draught horse in the middle, and Jenny Görensson’s Swedish Ardennes on the off side.
Developments at Detmold
Jean-Paul Heck’s powerful Ardennes logging team stand while he adds information to the commentary by Elmar Stertenbrink.
Developments at Detmold
A prototype roller/cutter for use on green manures before ploughing, developed by the Italian horse farmers group, Noi e il Cavallo.
Developments at Detmold
Matthias Bru?ning drives his Rheinisch Deutsch gelding through an obstacle in the single horse logging competition.
Developments at Detmold
Developments at Detmold
Developments at Detmold
Developments at Detmold