View Full Version : Horse Powered Equipment

Nov. 22, 2009, 06:54 PM
This might a little stretch from the usual stuff found here on the Farm Forum.

I picked up a Rural Heritage magazine at my local TSC Saturday. I got it because the Autumn issue contains a huge amount of photos of the 2009 Horse Progress Days in Indiana. The photos in one article were oriented towards use of true horse power for running equipment around the farm. I was quite amazed at the variety of adaptations that were shown to power things like milk coolers and refrigeration units, log splitters, laundry appliances, butter churn, meat grinder, ice-cream churn and that FAMOUS item everyone wants the generator for, THE WATER WELL! The power source was a horse driven treadmill, with a real horse just cruising along.

Granted, most of the innovators were Amish types, but Homesteader types, or people WAY OUT in the sticks, without reliable power from the grid, might be quite interested in these horse powered machines. Having the power out for a couple hours is inconvenient, but for days, no power is beyond "hard to deal with!"

I am just putting this idea out for thinking on. No idea what a horse treadmill would run in cost. Does appear to be easily movable, on a sled-type arrangement for pulling into place. Compared to a generator, might not be as costly. No cost to install the breakers on the electric system, keep fueled up! One photo showed the treadmill hooked up to power up some storage batteries, so you could even have your computer going for COTH!!

You might still be able to find a copy of the Autumn Rural Heritage magazine at your TSC store. Or you could order one from their site:


What I thought was the BEST photo was the treadmill hooked up to power the hay bale elevator!! That is really justice, working the horse for his own dinner instead of US doing all the work!

For the small equine collectors, I bet the treadmills come in a small size, you could power things with your Minis. They would stay trim and fit, you get the power Minis provide for other uses! People and equines, a TRUE partnership in work.

Anyway, I thought the whole planning for using true horse power in these daily jobs was really well done. New technology being taken advantage of in real life, super practical uses for many people who might not have any conception of the POSSIBILITIES out there, off the beaten path.

Frank B
Nov. 23, 2009, 10:15 AM
For those that have never seen one in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQCKHEmIDYM

RFD-TV (http://www.rfdtv.com/printsched.asp?timezone=0) shows them frequently on their "Rural Heritage" program slot.

Also check out their "Horse And Country" program at 6 AM weekdays. Lots of H/J & dressage from the UK.

Nov. 23, 2009, 11:06 AM
Thanks for the post! Hubby and I were just talking about this kind of thing the other day. Having lived through Hurricane Ike in Ohio last fall (still a cat 1 hurricane when it reached us!) and a week without our own power, moving the farm and a well with animals it's a concern. Hubby talked about hooking up a bike, but this may be something he'd want to do instead.

Without seeing the article or the video (can't get YouTube at work), I wonder if you could work out something more like a hot walker instead of a treadmill?

Nov. 23, 2009, 11:38 AM
There is a multiple horse powered "Sweep", which is like a horse walker or the old pony ride carousel. Horses are attached/driven so they are truly pulling their arm, to create the power running off the gearing of power shaft. Pictured clearly in the Rural Heritage article.

That sweep and horses were powering the whole sled of vacuum pump equipment like would be used for a milkhouse in the dairy. Tools powered were the vacuum pump, an air compressor, a compressor for the refrigeration unit that cools the bulk milk tank with an air powered agitator, plus the milking machines. Shown are 4 animals hitched to the sweep, light horses is what they said. Looked like bigger boned, 15h + animals to me, not drafts. The comment in article from a horse machinery builder, said that sweep was a bit underhorsed in power. He felt 4 heavy horses would do a much better job, for that task.

Sweep pictured is built lower to the ground, which puts the singletrees horses pull with, down at the optimum angle for best use of horse power. You want a downhill line of traces from shoulder/collar, going down to the singletree. Level trace pull loses horse power from the animal. That is OK on a light driving cart, but wastes power on a machine like a sweep that may need some horse work to keep moving for the power generated.

Just all the new ideas of things to be powered, were concepts I had never considered moving into the modern world! Small treadmills were very common in the past to use the large dog, a sheep, goat, on a small treadmill for powering a washing machine or butter churn. They were sold in catalogs with a variety of attachments for the home user.

Sweeps would certainly be an alternative for a treadmill, in providing the power from horses. Might be cheaper too, if you have the ground to dedicate to installation. Probably come in sizes smaller than 4 horse.

Nov. 23, 2009, 11:59 AM
Sweeps (in my locality, they call them 'horse powers') were often used to power saws, and occasionally, water-well drills. I've seen a few in action.

A lot of thought is being put into horse-powered farming equipment these days. Some have hydraulics, run by a ground-drive wheel. As you mentioned, goodhors, the past issue of Rural Heritage has a ton of information. I wish I could get to Horse Progress Days one of these years, to see all this in action!

As a frequent contributor to Rural Heritage magazine myself, perhaps you've read some of my articles. Look for one of my photos as the cover of the next issue, and a story inside of the Thurso, Quebec, sleigh ride.

Valerie Kirkwood

Nov. 24, 2009, 12:12 PM
draftdriver, I will certainly keep my eye open for the next issue of Rural Heritage now that I "know" one of the authors! I don't have a subscription, have not read the past magazines in depth. Just glanced thru them at the store, but WILL be checking better now. I may need a subscription!

There was quite a lot of interesting stuff in there, with tips credited to past issues from the 1970s. I didn't know the eye color of male and female horses were different in the flashlight at night!! I am going to check that out myself.

I guess I just had not considered "horse power" would be keeping up in progress with technology for other uses. We all laugh about how "old-fashioned" driving horses, draft teams are nowadays. What MORE could be needed for them to do?

We are into Driving, but all light horses and carriages. No practical application except having fun! We seldom have enough snow to sleigh, and when we do, the road is among the FIRST to be plowed clean since it is considered an "artery" for traffic. Sold our sleighs, but do get the carriages out in winter for a drive.

Nov. 26, 2009, 02:27 PM
I didn't know the eye color of male and female horses were different in the flashlight at night!! I am going to check that out myself.

I wondered about that one. It could be an old wives tale. I don't think my pony gelding's eyes reflect red, but he's as ancient as dirt. Maybe there are cataracts or other aging issues going on with him. All my others are mares, and they don't reflect red.