Female Horse Management students from Bridgwater & Taunton College had the opportunity to become ‘Lumber Jills’ for the day.
They headed to Courage Copse Creatives, a small woodland enterprise based in the Taw Valley, North Devon and spent the day exploring the heritage of the Women’s Forestry Service and how experiences on the WWI Home Front compare with women’s experiences today.
They learnt valuable forestry skills including how to use an axe, bow saw and actually felled a tree by hand under the careful watch of hosts Katy and Vince.
Over lunch, a National Heritage guide spoke with students regarding the historical aspect of women in the forestry service which prompted lots of thought and discussion within the group.
In the glorious afternoon sunshine, students had the great privilege of working with professional horse logger Kate to harness up and work her two Ardennes horses in the forest. Horses and woodlands have a long history and relationship together - in the past timber for ship and house building was pulled out of the woodlands by horses. Having been through a mechanical and technological phase of large scale forest/woodland management, there is now a resurgence and interest in the use of working horses within UK woodlands. They are especially suited to environmentally sensitive sites because of the low impact they have on the forest floor whilst extracting timber. They are also able to extract from sites with difficult terrain, unlike machinery.
Students and staff thoroughly enjoyed the day and felt inspired by the experience. Level 3 Horse Management student Holly Murley enjoyed the session and was delighted to work with the logging horses. She felt the underlying message of the day was powerful and empowering for women, proving that women can and have done the same jobs as men. It also opened up career options that she would have never considered or even known about.
Click here to watch a short film about the project.