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Shire horses from Operation Centaur used to cut the Bushy Park Meadow

Volunteers needed next Thursday to support the horses


The majestic shire horses will be keeping with tradition and cutting the meadow which runs from the Diana Fountain to White Lodge in Bushy Park next Thursday ( 21 September)

A spokesperson for The Friends of Bushy and Home Parks said: “It’s important to cut the meadows once the flowers have gone over and remove the cuttings which reduces adding nutrients into the ground which would encourage unwanted plants to take over.

“The shire horses are hard workers but they need some help from us.”

Volunteers are needed to act as ‘marshals’ to be positioned around the edge of the meadow when the work is being carried out.

The beautiful animals offer many benefits compared to heavy machinery, according to Operation Centaur which manages a herd at Richmond Park.

Harder to reach areas can be accessed more easily, wildlife is less disturbed by noise or impact on the soil, and horse work has a low carbon footprint.

Shire horses were commonly used for working the land one hundred years ago and it is estimated there were once over a million in the UK.

Now, there are less than 3,000, and just ten are based at Operation Centaur in Richmond Park.

Known for their laid-back and docile temperament, the horses are phenomenal weight-pullers and were historically used for carting ale from breweries to public houses.

Today the horses help with conservation and forestry work and are also valued for their heritage, offering seasonal carriage rides to anyone wanting to take a trip back through time.

In an appeal for help The Friends explain the following:

Your role

  • You will be there to ask members of the public not to approach the horses or enter the meadow area. You will also be able to educate the public on why they are cutting and why horses are being used. The Royal Parks will put together guidance on this subject  to share prior to the day. This event will not involve any manual work.


  • Volunteers will be required between 10am and 2pm. You meet outside the gate in the morning at the end of Lime Avenue which leads to White Lodge.


  • You will stop for lunch at midday for half an hour and The Royal Parks will provide tea and biscuits for everyone.
  • Toilets will be available in the White Lodge car park; these are the outdoor blocks of which The Royal Parks will make everyone aware of location on the day.
  • Volunteers may lock bikes in the White Lodge visitor car park. Try not to drive to the task day if possible, however, the closest car park will be by the Diana Fountain in the park and is free. This is approximately a 10-minute walk to the meeting point.

How to get involved

You can sign up here or go to the hub at Help the Horses! Meadow Management (

To learn more about the shire horses go to





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