Draft horses back to work in Wisconsin

MEDFORD, WI (AP) — Powerful and versatile draft horses are being used in Wisconsin to help a cellphone company upgrade its towers among other jobs in the fields and forests.

Draft horses can get in and out of spaces some vehicles can't because the animals are agile and lightweight compared with trucks or tractors, Milwaukee Public Radio reported.

"There's a lot of movements that are converging to make people interested in using draft animal power: organic farming, sustainable agriculture, eating locally grown food," said Joe Mischka, publisher and editor of Rural Heritage magazine. "One of them is the ecological benefits. Horses have a much smaller carbon footprint."

Farmer Jason Julian is able to use horses in his winter logging business, Legacy Horse Logging, because of the animals' ability to traverse roads that are snow-covered, muddy or flooded.

Logistics company CH Coakley hired Julian earlier this year to deliver boxes of gear to cellphone towers for a large U.S. Cellular service upgrade in northern and central Wisconsin. ATVs and trucks couldn't get to some of the towers because the primitive access roads were covered snow or muck.

Julian said he has delivered supplies for the upgrades to a few dozen sites, sometimes making multiple trips to the same cell tower. He uses his pickup truck to carry the horses in a trailer, while his mother or wife follows in a second pickup truck hauling a wagon.

They meet up with a CH Coakley truck on a highway near a cell tower's access road. Together, Julian and the delivery drivers determine whether the horses will be needed or if the truck can get through on the access road.

"There's a lot of people that enjoy horses and have a weekend horse, go riding here or there. There's not a lot of people that make a living with them," Julian said. "And when you start making a living with your horses, they have to be able to work. They have to trust you. You have to be able to trust them. It's just the next level."

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