Girls Horse Club Blog

Will Work for Food

Published by • Mar 27th, 2007 • Category: Horse Work, International Horse, LeadMare Tales

The light from the morning sun is nearly blinding as we glide across the rolling, snow-covered land. The cold makes my skin feel stiff, like a thin layer of ice. I can’t control the ear-to-ear grin, even if it means my cheeks will crack. The movement feels like slow dancing, swaying to soft music with a rhythm of hooves sinking in snow, harnesses clanking and horses breathing.

Horse Work

I turn to the driver next to me, eyes watering partly from the cold but also from the feeling of pure joy stirring in my heart. “This is heaven on earth,” I say.

Patrick Palmer smiles and pauses for a moment. Then in his quiet, kind manner he responds, “And I get paid to do this…”

Throughout history, horses have performed many difficult and important jobs. Beyond their role as a reliable mode of transportation (the true definition of horsepower) they’ve been “employed” as ranchers, farmers, soldiers, police officers, teachers, athletes, sight guides, tour guides, and the list goes on.

Although working horses are still important contributors throughout the world, in many countries a horse’s role is less about work and more about pleasure. At Thornapple Farms in Vermont, USA, horses make work a pleasure for Patrick and Cathy Palmer.

Meet Spud and Chief, two dapple gray Percherons with a rather unique job. These BIG boys work for their good life by pulling sleighs and carts around the Champlain Valley. But they’re most known (and loved) for their job as the local garbage collectors.

Yes, garbage collectors.

Together with their human co-workers, each Friday morning Chief and Spud travel an eight mile route through the town of Bristol to collect trash and recycling from the town’s residents. Rain, sleet, snow or anything short of dangerous conditions won’t deter this horse-powered garbage truck.

Spud (on your left in this picture) is a bit larger than Chief at 18hh, but Chief is the boss. He stands on the driver’s side, closest to the road where a steady stream of traffic passes. When a large truck comes up from behind, Chief looks back to assess the origin of the noise then turns to Spud, passing a silent communication to let him know the situation is under control. “As a team, they’re nearly unshakable,” says Lynda Malzac, a professional horse trainer who works alongside Patrick, Chief and Spud each week. “They’re gentle giants.”

So the next time you think being a garbage collector is the worst job in the world, think again. With the right attitude, a kind employer and an equine co-worker, any work can be a pleasure.

4 Nickers »

  1. That’s neat! I am thankful to all horses who take on jobs like that!

  2. neat! I didnt have time to read it properly but the pics are gorgous

  3. Cool! I own a horse that used to do heavy draft work.

  4. Work Horse…

    Just hope these horses leave less garbage than they pick up!……