Conservation

Using Shire horses is a sustainable way to manage parkland. Not only are they are offering a much-loved service to London’s landscapes, the figures stack up and it totally makes sense environmentally and economically. Adam Curtis, Assistant Park Manager, Richmond Park
What we do

Whether you have a small wildflower meadow or large woodland, we can help you manage it with our horses.  We work primarily in and around London, demonstrating that working horses do have a place in urban settings.  These pages show a range of activities, but there are many other tasks we can complete for you – from watering flower displays to collecting recycling.  Talk to us about using real horse power.

Benefits in conservation

Working horses have an important role to play in modern conservation management. Horses can work efficiently alongside engine-powered machinery, such as traversing otherwise inaccessible woodland slopes in timber extraction. Innovative horse-drawn machinery can provide solutions to modern conservation challenges, such as helping control bracken in sensitive acid grassland habitats. At other times, a habitat may benefit from re-introducing traditional land management practices, such as cutting hay in regenerating wildflower meadows. At Operation Centaur, we employ all of these approaches.

Working horses also have additional benefits in conservation, offering low noise disturbance to wildlife, as well as lower soil compaction and impact on flora, when compared to heavier machinery. Horses also have a low carbon footprint. While working, we often design community outreach, publicity, or an educational element into our work, to allow our partner organisations to make the most of our presence.
Bracken rolling Richmond Park

Historic Royal Palaces and The Royal Parks have worked with us for the past 25 years, where we help deliver conservation estate management and heritage experiences. You can find out more about our conservation work under the links below:

Rare Breeds

Operation Centaur work with Shire horses and Cleveland Bays. Both are traditional English working breeds, which dramatically reduced in numbers during post-war industrial mechanisation. They are now listed on the Rare Breeds watch-list, with Cleveland Bays deemed “critical”, and Shire horses “at risk”. By providing these horses with sustainable work in contemporary society, it is our hope to help secure them a future.

Operation Centaur, Holly Lodge, Richmond Park, Richmond, Surrey TW10 5HS
Contact Operation Centaur
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In partnership with The Royal Parks, Historic Royal Palaces and  Shire Horse Society