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Could ‘snaking horses’ have been used in logging?

Si Cantwell
StarNews

Q. Could the reference to “snaking horse” in the J.P. Newton story refer to a horse used in logging? A “snaking horse” would pull logs from where they were felled through the trees to a loading area.

A. The reader is referring to a MyReporter question answered by StarNews staffer Ben Steelman, who wrote:

According to the website Equestrian Life, “snaking” is an old-fashioned term referring to stallions signaling dominance, often by turning its head and pointing – usually to signal that he considered a particular mare his own. Mares would sometimes “snake” to lead their foals. We’re not sure, but apparently Newton was breaking horses of this snaking behavior when it was unwanted.

Do any readers know more about “snaking” horses? Let us know in the Comments below.

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Bob Griffith

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2 Responses to “ Could ‘snaking horses’ have been used in logging?”

  1. On February 6, 2013 at 11:09 am Richard Cecelski, Carolina Beach wrote:

    While “snaking” is a term used to describe a common behavior found in horses, the “snaking horse” referred to in the J. P. Newton story was likely an advertisement for a particular type of logging horse. The behavior (not connected with logging) known as snaking is primarily associated with alpha males: a horse will lower and point its head as it pushes a mare in a certain preferred direction. This behavior can be observed by the wild / feral horses of Shackleford Banks as alpha stallions strive to keep the mares in their group (known as a “harem”) within his boundaries (and away from other suitors). Contrary to Ben Steelman’s speculation of the purpose of J.P. Newton’s snaking horses, snaking is not a behavior that likely could be trained out of a horse.

    I grew up hearing stories of the colossal logging horses my great-grandfather, Guy Sabiston, would work with in the low country of Carteret County. These stories were from the days when trucks were absent or few. The imagery of these steeds still seems bigger than life in my minds’ eye for their feats of strength and endurance. Of the different roles held by the individual horses, perhaps the most valuable place was held for the “snaker”, the horse that “snaked” the logs from within the woods to a track or to a logging road where they would be loaded onto wagons and trailers. The snaker had to be sure-footed, stout and intelligent.

    The value of strong and reliable horses in days gone by can hardly be overstated. They constituted a families’ sustenance and success. Guy Sabiston was a quiet and gentle man who worked the logwoods and fields until the day he died. My grandmother told me that she could remember only one time that she recalled him being overwhelmed with emotions. The great hurricane of ’33 collapsed his barn, killing all but one of his magnificent heavy horses.

  2. On February 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm Si Cantwell wrote:

    Thank you for contributing that. Those “snaking horses” sound like valuable working animals indeed.



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