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Do you know what is a "horsepower"? Like, "That car has 395 horsepower?"
A horsepower is a measure of work, expressed in "You lift so many pounds so many feet in so much time" 33,000 pounds one foot in one minute.
It's cool somebody took this video, but everybody who lives in horsedrawn country has a story like this. I have a story about getting my pickup, full of steel, buried in mud, and my own draft horses that I just bought pulled it out.
And they were elderly.
I didn't drive them.
That was on my mind today because I got my four wheel drive pickup buried in mud and couldn't pull it out with a "25 horsepower" tractor.
I guarantee two broke-to-work Belgians (or other draft breed) could have pulled it out.
Without breaking a sweat.
What they did was, they said, "A horse can do <this much work> in an 8 hour day. Divide that number by 8, you've got what a horse can do in an hour, do the math, so much work per second.
Then they took a steam engine, and they got up all the steam they could without exploding,
And they said, "Look! We can do as much work in an hour as 27 horses!"
27 horsepower.
If you're not doing that much work, you're not generating / consuming that much power.
It is a measure of work over time.
Say you're going 7 miles an hour on the interstate. Your car weighs 4,000 pounds, and you weigh so little in comparison that we can leave that out of the calculation.
But you're not lifting those couple tons ⬆️upward, you're rolling it on wheels.
So your Bloviated Rocket Express doesn't "have" 395 horsepower. It "has" - is producing - about two. Horsepower.
The Bloviated Rocket Express swerving silently through the streets of the empty city on the TV ads is probably producing about - I don't know, maybe 80 horsepower...
I was up at the neighbor's small engine shop - this was back when I had my Belgians - and some guy came in, and he was blowing his horn about high-powered lawnmowers, and he stopped for breath and I said, "I'm mowing a five foot swath with two horses," and he said,
"Bullshit. Y'are not either," and the guy who owned the shop said, "He's talking about real horses. Draft horses."
And the guy said, "Really?" And I said,
"Yup. Hay burns hotter than gasoline."
I don't know how a donkey can pull. Nowhere near as much as a draft horse, but teams (2) of draft horses routinely pull 6,000 - 7,000 pounds, dead weight on a sled, in competition events.
One of my old mares weighed about two, two-and-a-half Abes. I bet four to five Abes could
Give those two old girls a run for their money.
The biggest problem I had with my Belgians, in the long run, was I didn't have enough work for them.
I plowed small patches, disked them. I used the horses to mow hay, to rake it, and to haul it. I had a tractor to bale it.
But mostly they just stood around. And got less and less willing to work when asked to. Everybody needs steady work, something productive to do. Not every day, but every few days anyway.
That's the advantage, to me, of "just a donkey."
I figure Abe probably weighs somewhere around 500 - 600 pounds. I've never weighed him, but I've ridden a friend's 700 pound mule, and had 1450 pound mares, and just guesstimating, 5 or 6. He's about armpit high on me.
I don't know what draft horse work harness weighs, but I'd guess maybe 35, 40 pounds. Imagine what you've seen on the Budweiser Clydesdales, without the chrome and shiny stuff. Still a lot of leather, and it's thick.
Remember they might pull a semi trailer truck in these clothes.
My mares were about eyebrow high on me. Amish people - anybody who really works horses - don't want those sky-high long legged draft horses that the fairs and TV loves.
I bought my mares from Amish people. I was the mares' retirement plan.
And I was in my early forties.
First you get down the collars and put them on.
The girls are just standing in the barn, they don't have to be tied. Collars go big end down, buckle behind the neck.
You hang them up big end up, to reduce sagging, and the horse wears big end down.
You pull the harness onto you shoulder. First the britchen, spider, back saddle, then take one hame in each hand.
The hames are the metal things that ride on the collar and do the pulling.
(Not this fancy)
Anyway, you get all that leather balanced on your shoulder and forearm, walk up by the horse's shoulder, and lift / sling the whole mass up on her back.
The hame in the right hand goes on the far side of the collar.
There's a limit to how high up in the air you want to heave that
Cart horses - delivery horses, wagon horses - was where the real tall, longlegged draft horses were needed. You give a horse an extra six inches on every step he takes and he can deliver beer to a lot more taverns in a day. It's no advantage on the plow.
Abe's harness hangs on my closet door. I think I'm going to go over to collar-type harness for him - I've still got an 18" horse collar, which is about his neck dimension.
Amanda wore a 24" collar, Sherry a 25". IIRC.
We've got this circular motion, I feed Abe, he poops, he pulls the sled to haul it for processing (by worms.)
Come spring / summer he's going to get to haul square bales too, eight or ten to the load. I haven't told him yet.
But - it's easy. He's little. His stuff is light.
I don't even know how many bales Amanda and Sherry could pull. A big, four-wheeled, car-tire wagon, piled as high as I could reach from the ground. The top layer was almost even with the barn loft.
But I was forty-ish.
That was thirty years ago.
Eight or ten bales at a trip. Maybe 40 to 50 in a day. Abe doesn't burn as much hay as Amanda and Sherry did.
It's pleasant. Working with animals. They don't make a lot of noise. They snuffle and clomp and are alive. You have to feed them but they change their own oil. They make fertilizer. They can turn around in their own length. They can walk sideways.
And you can grow their fuel.
Weight x distance x time.
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