No matter what I’m doing, I seem to always be trying to dream up some new contraption that will generate electricity. Today while I was helping my husband and daughter get ready for an afternoon horse ride, I had an epiphany! Horses and mules were used for thousands of years as work animals but nowadays they are primarily used for pleasure. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be used for work. It’s not like their genetic makeup has changed. The only thing that has changed is the way humans choose to use them.
Because our mule Annabelle is trained quite well to pull a two wheeled cart there seems like there has to be a way to “harness” (pun intended) her skill to generate electricity. The more I think about this, the more I like this idea. We have to get her out and exercise her anyway. There’s no reason that with a little bit of ingenuity that we couldn’t exercise her and generate electricity at the same time. At the moment I have two ideas for how we might be able to do this.
Idea Number 1 – Modify A Cart Into A Mule Powered Generator
The first is simply to have my husband modify a cheap training cart so that it has a solid axle. Then he could weld a sprocket to it so a chain could turn a permanent magnet motor. He could also fabricate a basket that would hold a 12v deep cycle battery.
We would have to work some details out like how to make sure that the additions to the cart don’t negatively affect its balance. We would probably also have to install some kind of a charge controller so the voltage that is put out by the permanent magnet motor doesn’t fluctuate with changes in the speed of the cart.
By modifying a cart like this, Annabelle could be pulling double duty. She can take us places in the cart but at the same time she could be generating electricity that could be used however we see fit. The cart could even have a power inverter installed on it which would essentially transform the cart into a mule powered mobile power station.
Idea Number Two – Modify a Hot Walker Into A Mule Powered Generator
There is a machine called a “hot walker” that is used to exercise horses and mules all over the world. This device kind of looks like a kiddie carnival ride. In the center there is a shaft that is powered by an electric motor. At the top of the shaft are long metal arms that stick out perpendicular to the shaft. At the end of these arms are ropes that are attached to the horses halters. When you turn the machine on, it slowly rotates the shaft which essentially leads the horse in a large circle.
Exercising a horse with one of these machines is kind of like a person walking and leading them for an hour or so but they go in a large circle and it’s the machine that does the leading.
Annabelle is trained to respond to voice commands so if someone stands in the middle of a round pen and tells her to walk, she will walk along the perimeter of the pen until someone tells her to stop. Most people know that if you spin an electric motor with some kind of outside force, electricity will be generated. My idea is to modify an old hot walker so that instead of the arm of the machine leading our mule, her harness would be connected to the arm so that when she is told to walk forward, she will essentially be pulling the arm which will spin the shaft and generate electricity!
Time For A Dose Of Reality
I realize that machines like these would have to be very well engineered and the animal that is used as the source of power must be very well trained. Please, please, please! If you have a horse or mule in your backyard, don’t go trying these things on your own. Whenever you have a 1,200 pound equine attached to a cart, buggy, wagon, or any type of equipment, there is the potential for an accident which can result in serious injury or even death! Don’t try this!
I’m just at the “idea” phase of this project and “IF” I decide to move forward with these ideas, you can be sure that we’ll take things really slow and make sure that Annabelle is very well trained for the new job that we’ll be asking her to do.
I don’t envision devices like this as being generators that will be able to generate much electricity but they might be a good source of emergency power if our other systems should happen to fail. I’m going to let these ideas mull around in my head for a while before we do anything. Be sure and check back with us here at BooneyLiving.com for an update to this idea. When we actually build one of these devices, I’ll pop back into this article and update it then.
Over time I’ll be adding lots of articles to my website about alternative energy experiments. If you would like to read another article like this one, you should check out A Look At Hand Crank Power Generator Technology.
Warning: Working with large animals can be extremely dangerous! If you don’t know what you’re doing and your not working with an animal that is very well trained, don’t attempt anything that is written in this article. Even then, there is always the possibility of being injured or even killed while working with large animals such as horses or mules. Do so at your own risk!