They're varying in size and other characteristics, but all share some important traits that have made them invaluable in their service to man. They have a natural curiosity and willingness to learn, which has led to their being well suited to a variety of pursuits.
Draft horses make wonderful companion horses and are favored for their docile demeanor. The use of Heavy Horses throughout history has been a critical aid in the civilization of man.
Individual draft horse breeds are often named for the country where they originated. The heavier draft horse was developed from the bulkier type of equine found in the Northern Hemisphere.
The modern draft horse is believed to have the bloodlines of these earlier large equines. As early as the roman times, Europeans used huge types of horses for heavy labor.
Large farm horses demonstrating a calm, constant and unemotional temperament were used for pulling military wagons. After World War II and the development of the internal combustion engine, the need for draft horses diminished greatly.
Many were sold to slaughterhouses and the number of breeds began to drastically decline. Since the later part of the 1900s, dedicated breeders have begun efforts to pull a number of breeds back from the brink of extinction.
Individual draft horse breeds are often named for the country where they originated. The Belgian Draft horse is probably more plentiful than any other breed In the United States.
It is still used on small farms as well as being shown publicly in Draft shows and pulling contests. The Percheron, which probably has the closest ties to the Medieval war horse, is another regular, doing work as well as seen publicly in Draft shows, pulling contests and jumping.
But perhaps the most familiar of these Draft breeds is the Clydesdale, being represented by the highly publicized and famous Anheuser-Busch teams. Clydesdale Belgian Percheron Suffolk Punch Shire American Cream Spotted French Classier.
With their calm personalities some are used for therapeutic riding programs, helping people with disabilities learn to walk by the feel of the horse's movement. Draft horses are often crossed with lighter breeds to create a large light horse.
There are a number of different breeds, with varying characteristics, but all share the common traits of strength, patience and a docile temperament. With a natural curiosity and willingness to learn, Draft horses make wonderful companion horses.
Also, the hair around their ankles can attract bacteria in the soil, making them susceptible to “scratches” or pododermititis. This problem is more prevalent in horses that are subjected to wet muddy conditions for extended periods of time.
In other words, cold -bloods were bred to pull farm equipment, not to run for long periods of time. For instance, the Dennis is a breed of draft horse that comes from France and Belgium.
Cold -bloods make perfect workhorses, of course, but they are also highly sought after as show animals. There are a number of breeds, with varying characteristics, but all share common traits of strength, patience, and a docile temperament which made them indispensable to generations of pre-industrial farmers.
They are also commonly used for crossbreeding, especially to light riding breeds such as the Thoroughbred, for the purpose of creating sport horses of warm blood type. They tend to have broad, short backs with powerful hindquarters, again best suited for the purpose of pulling.
Additionally, the draft breeds usually have heavy bone, and a good deal of feathering on their lower legs. Draft breeds range from approximately 16 to 19 hands (64 to 76 inches; 163 to 193 cm) high and from 1,400 to 2,000 lb (640 to 910 kg).
Draft horses crossbred on light riding horses adds height and weight to the ensuing offspring, and may increase the power and “scope” of the animal's movement. The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire named Sampson (later Mammoth), who was born in 1846.
He stood 21.2 hands (86 inches, 218 cm) high, and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb). One type of horse-powered work was the hauling of heavy loads, plowing fields, and other tasks that required pulling ability.
Of the modern draft breeds, the Percheron probably has the closest ties to the medieval war horse. These Shire horses are used to pull a brewery dray delivering beer to pubs in England.
In this picture, members of the public are being given a ride. By the 19th century horses weighing more than 1,600 pounds (730 kg) that also moved at a quick pace were in demand. Tall stature, muscular backs, and powerful hindquarters made the draft horse a source of Horsepower for farming, hauling freight and moving passengers.
The railroads increased demand for working horses, as a growing economy still needed transport over the 'last mile' between the goods yard or station and the final customer. Even in the 20th century, draft horses were used for practical work, including over half a million used during World War I to support the military effort, until motor vehicles became an affordable and reliable substitute.
A breed developed exclusively in the U.S. was the American Cream Draft, which had a stud book established by the 1930s. They are particularly popular with groups such as Amish and Mennonite farmers, as well as those individuals who wish to farm with a renewable source of power.
They are also sometimes used during forestry management to remove logs from dense woodland where there is insufficient space for mechanized techniques. Crossbred draft horses also played a significant role in the development of a number of warm blood breeds, popular today in international FEI competition up to the Olympic Equestrian level.
Small areas still exist where draft horses are widely used as transportation due to legislation preventing automotive traffic, such as on Mackinac Island in the United States. Historically, draft horses were shod with horseshoes that were significantly wider and heavier than those for other types of horses, custom-made, often with caulking.
In North America there were five draft horse breeds on the classic list: Belgian, Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, and Suffolk. Coldblooded horses, because of their stolid demeanor and great weight are not suitable for sports other than hauling or pulling competitions at farm shows.
Some people love the look of draft horses, who have thicker coats and manes to enable them to endure rough weather more readily than sleeker horses. Their heads and eyes are large, their legs and shoulders massive, for pulling wagons filled with hay or dung or for being in harness.
Built for endurance, these horses tend to have stronger limbs, often with long, thick hair around their lower legs and hooves for added warmth. Bonnie Hendrick’s comprehensive 1995 book International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds points out that skeletons of ancient draft horses many thousands of years old have been found in the Brabant area.
When the gun made mounted knights obsolete, the Belgian horse found new work with farmers, loggers and anyone that needed heavy objects moved a long distance. Belgians are large, muscular yet versatile horses able to do a wide variety of tasks asked of them.
Legs grow ample “feathers” of hair but not as much as other draft breeds. The most common color is sorrel (also called chestnut) but the occasional red roan or bay is seen.
Perhaps draft horses know that they are far too large for most predators and so are not as prone to run away or panic as other horses or ponies are. Because of its gentle nature, Belgians are often bred for meat or for the harvesting of pregnant mare urine for hormone replacement therapies in menopausal women.
Belgian owners know that this is money well-spent as they enjoy the companionship and athleticism of their four-legged friends. Buying a Belgian horse is often less than $1000 since they are often found in animal shelters and rescues from slaughterhouses or pregnant mare urine farms.
Hay costs anywhere from $4 to $25 depending on where the horse lives and drought conditions. Manure removal: Belgians produce more stool than regular horses and it has to go somewhere.
Veterinary fees: Horses need vaccinations, deforming and annual tooth checks which can cost anywhere from $1000 to $15,000 per year. Miscellaneous: It’s amazing how much stuff a horse needs to be happy and healthy.
These include fry sprays, fly masks, brushes, hoof picks, shampoos, conditioner, shovels, buckets, water troughs, fencing and on and on. They are the draft breed of choice for the Amish communities of North America, for small farmers and for logging in places where machines cannot get to.