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Stables

Birthing pen at Upper House Farm.

By the seventeenth century, oxen had largely been replaced by horses to draw ploughs and carts. Most farmers used shire horses and the plough-team usually comprised three, two of which pulled together while the third drew a chain fixed to the centre of the crossbar, walking on the right. By the eighteenth century, threshing machines, harrows, rollers and reapers were also drawn by horses and stables became the hub of the working farm. Most stables had haylofts with pitching holes through which the hay was pushed down into feeding racks fixed to the outside walls, to which working horses were tethered. Hay-seeds swept up in the loft were sometimes planted in the leys, to boost the growth of grass. The loft also provided insulation for horses sweating after a day in the fields. After 1800, stalls became more common, and loose boxes, or foaling pens, were used for sick horses, and pregnant mares, or to give riding horses more room to stretch their legs.  Floors were made of stone to make cleaning easier. The carter’s day started at 5.00am with mucking out, feeding and harnessing the plough team.