Woodwork with horses

Gian Denoth

Gian Denoth (52) from Tschlin is a full-time farmer and works in the rearing of young cattle. For 30 years, he has also worked in forestry, where he pulls wood with horses.


Are you often in Samnaun pulling wood?
We are always in Samnaun pulling wood. But in the Samnaun valley there are not many places where you can pull wood with the horses.


What is the daily routine like when working with horses in the woods?
Most of the forest workers with us are farmers, so first we have to do the stable work at home. At about 8:15 we start, then we work for 3 hours until noon. We always take something to eat, build a small fire and make coffee. After the break we work until 4.00 pm. After the hard work we go back home with our horses in the horse trailer.

Is it difficult to work with horses?
The horses are mostly well-behaved and calm. It always takes a good relationship between the horse and the driver. With time you build up this relationship, then usually everything works well.

What kind of work are horses used for?
The horses are used when it is too steep and impassable. Where it is not possible to use the winch, our traditional forestry work has many advantages. It would also be good to work partly with machines.

What are the advantages of horses in woodwork compared to modern machines?
The main advantage is that the soil is not compacted. When you go in with the machines, the soil is very compacted and flattened. The forest floor is a complex structure with many living creatures and small animals. The soil can be wonderfully preserved with the horse, young growth can be better avoided and nature can be left. The trees that are left behind can be better cared for.

Do you enjoy your work?
I enjoy my work very much. I have been working in forestry with horses for about 30 years. If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't have been at it for so long.

Which horses are best suited for woodwork?
You can pull wood with many breeds, including a pony. The advantage is that our horses are very calm in temperament and not too nervous. The animals get used to the sound of cutting trees with a chainsaw and they are not afraid of machines either. The most important thing is that the carriage driver gets along with the horse very well. Not every horse suits every carriage driver. You first have to find out if the relationship with the horse is right.



How many forestry workers make up your team?
At the moment there are four of us. Alina is our intern. Not every day we are full because everyone has a farm at home where they have to take care of it.

How many horses do you have?
It depends on the work. When we first started "traveling", we were working with 4 horses. The animals don't mind if they have to stand in the forest or in the stable.

What exactly is "traveling"?
When you use the "Sappie" to bring down the wood from above without a horse. Sappie is a tool for pulling wood in forestry that combines the functions of a hammer and a turning hook.

What two breeds do you have here at the moment?
My horse belongs to the Percheron breed and is called Uranie. The other horse belongs to my colleague at work. It belongs to the Ardener breed and is called Largo. Largo is only the second time in the field. I talk to the horses in Romansh.