H.H. Horse Logging

Ax Men

Location: Floyd County, Virginia

Using horses to get timber out of remote forests dates back to the early days of the industry. Now, a group of southern gentlemen in rural Virginia is taking this old-school practice and trying to carve out a future for themselves.

When landowners want their property thinned out so the remaining trees can grow bigger, they call in horse loggers. They’re in and out without damaging the land with unnecessary machinery—but getting eight 2,000-pound horses to move as one brute force is easier said than done. Between steep terrain, huge timber, tight deadlines and the unpredictability of working with animals, accidents come often and hard.

Leading the team is Jagger Rutledge, a know-it-all who’s trying to take over the reins from—and emerge from the shadow of—his father. Never too far away is dad Jason, who began this practice a decade ago and isn’t quite ready to let his son have at it. Meanwhile, horseman Chad Miano freely speaks his mind about both Jagger and Jason.