Are Draft Horses Comfortable To Ride

Brent Mccoy
• Sunday, 11 October, 2020
• 9 min read

In this article, I’ll be discussing the differences between draft horses and riding horses and also identifying some ways in which they are similar. As with anything that can be categorized anywhere in the world, the broad category of horses is broken down into general types.

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They are characteristically wide in the shoulder, barrel, and hindquarters, and they boast beautiful leg “feathers” as well as thick, stout necks. Riding horses typically stand between 14.2 and 17 hands tall, and they generally weigh between 1000 and 1300 pounds.

Though it depends on the breed, they are typically long-necked, longer-backed, long-legged, and altogether comfortable for a person to sit on. In every regard, they are traditionally smaller than the draft type and are used in any discipline that involves riding.

Though it is a small part of the driving world, it still demonstrates that horse types aren’t bound to specific disciplines! Drafts are built to haul heavy weights over long distances.

No, cross-training doesn’t hurt anyone, but be sure of your horse’s limits before asking them to do something they may not be physically inclined to do. Though, it may be difficult to find the tack that will properly fit them, unless you ride drafts regularly.

They also make great fox hunting and trail riding mounts. Draft crosses are even a preferred mount in fox hunting, 3-day evening, and dressage.

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Draft horses are known for their calm, quiet demeanor, and this can make them fantastic riding partners. Of course, if you want to compete in national-level hunter derbies, you can’t be riding a draft horse.

If you want to compete at Malay Equitation Finals, you can’t be riding a draft horse. Most of the time, draft horses cannot physically perform Grand Prix dressage movements or jump 3’6” fences.

This isn’t because they aren’t athletic, it’s because they physically are not built to move in the ways that those tasks require. Yes, ride your draft horse if you want- but be realistic about what your expectations in the saddle are.

Drafts and riding horses are different in the build and their size, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t have similar jobs. I hope this article helped you learn about the differences and similarities between draft horses and riding horses.

While many draft horse owners today continue to use their heavy horses for similar types of work and/or for competition, there is growing interest in riding the “gentle giants.” In fact, ranch operations that provide guided trail rides are increasingly adding draft horses to their string.

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(Source: keepcalmandrideadraft.wordpress.com)

In April 2014, several ranch hands told reporters from The Guardian that are increasingly using draft horses, the diesels of the world, to prevent losing income from potential customers of any size. This doesn’t come as a surprise to draft owners who have already enjoyed the benefits of riding their hitch horses.

“I rode all the mares that were a part of our six-horse hitch,” said Heather Yahoo, of Jim Belgians in Caledonia, New York. Using specific cues in the saddle versus in harness helped avoid confusion.

A seasoned draft horse used to wearing a harness and responding to cues may make a good candidate under saddle. Although they are already accustomed to accepting bit and cinch pressure, it is wise to start slow.

Still recommends gently placing the saddle on the horse’s back and lightly tightening the cinch. Because your draft is likely already trained to respond to voice and rein cues, it’s important to remember that they won’t immediately understand leg and seat cues like horses trained to ride.

To create a smooth transition and help your draft understand what you’re asking, use voice commands at the same time that you apply leg pressure. Depending on the size of your draft horse and the tack you already own, you may or may not need to invest in new equipment.

shire horses draft horse stallion woman riding clydesdale gorgeous facts horseback rider cowgirl percheron cow ass
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In Yahoo’s case, the three saddles she already owned fit her Belgian mares well. The most significant changes she needed to make were to the girt and billet straps.

However, if you plan on competing with your horse, the rules of the event may specify which types of bits are acceptable. Amish harness shops are one source for finding a wide variety of equipment built specifically for draft horses.

If you’re competitive by nature there are plenty of opportunities to show your draft horse. “A hitch draft will never move like a quarter horse, but with enough miles in the saddle they can be slowed down and lower their heads,” Yahoo said.

“I SAID GEE!” The author at a recent draft horse show on catch- ride Bushmaster Rock. I have gotten the opportunity in my horse life to ride some truly well-broke full draft horses in my lifetime, as well as many excellent draft crosses.

This list is about the truly well-broke driving horses that for whatever devil-possessed whimsical reason we’ve decided to attempt to ride. Bless our gentle giants, for they are endlessly patient and saintlike for allowing us to crawl all over them and barely flick an ear, regardless if it’s the first ride of their lives or the hundred and first.

horse draft horses barrel racing clydesdale rider braymere ride bareback breed largest pretty patiently entered waited starter ring he saddlery
(Source: braymere.blogspot.com)

Whenever I’ve gotten on a light horse for what might be its first ride ever, there’s a lot of prep work that goes into that moment. This feature is particularly useful when riding a draft with no saddle training, as they have no idea what it means when you apply your leg.

You can squeeze all day long, and they’re still going to plod along in that straight line they intended to the whole time. I’d love to be a railbird some time at our local draft horse show for the riding classes (except I’m usually riding in them) just to listen to the chorus of muttered (or shouted) gees and haws and whoa as horses and riders thunder by.

I’ve also ridden the opposite: when the partner gets out of sight or earshot, grab some mane and hang on because you’re about to go very, very fast until you find him. And of course I’ve ridden some horses that don’t seem to care at all where there partner is and continue to ride on just fine.

This is particularly true at our local draft horse show which offers a few riding classes. Since everyone there is primarily showing their hitch horses, most of us usually enter the class with a pair of reins buckled onto the regular driving bridle, including the blinkers.

You can show me your light horses, your gained breeds, your loftiest dressage mount. I’ve ridden lots of different breeds, from Icelandic's to Arabians, and nothing has come close to the sheer comfort of plodding about on a draft horse.

riding horse horses saddle horn draft there ride things horseback dressage wallpapers don classical type difference between before buzzsharer tell
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Another difficult one to truly pin down, but I’m going to credit this again to the brilliant temperament and incredible presence of draft horses. At the age of 5, Larry Wise recalls, he was often hoisted onto the lead horse of his grandfather's plow team.

Credit: Heidi Morocco The Frisian breed, originally from the Netherlands, has been threatened with extinction, but today is growing steadily. This sleek, black horse measures around 15 hands, and is admired by both riders and the harness world for powerful bone structure and a fast, high-stepping trot.

But Wise had reason to believe that he'd ridden at soaring heights: He was aboard a mighty draft horse. Here, we'll cover what some have already discovered about the draft horse: behind its size, power, and muscle, lies a “gentle giant” that can be a perfect trail mount and rock-solid equine friend.

While lighter horse breeds were being developed throughout other parts of the world, a large, strong-boned animal endured the harsh conditions of north-central Europe. War-waging societies of the early Medieval Period used these heavy horses as battle mounts.

It's unclear as to when and where draft horses became the animal of choice for farmers and wagoners, but their role as powerful harness horses has inspired selective breeding for centuries. Horses as tall as 18 hands high and weighing 2,000 pounds are common in such breeds as the Percheron and Shire.

draft belgian horse horses brabander riding paarden roan file much processie fun commons they belge wikimedia curly heaven wikipedia
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Breeders selected not only for size and strength, but perhaps more important, a quiet calm temperament, distinguishing draft -horse breeds as cold-blooded animals. Since then, the breeds have recovered, yet the majority of the draft -horse industry is still dominated by their demand as harness horses.

On the Trail Since the days on his grandfather's farm, Wise, now age 52, has spent a lifetime with a number of horse breeds, but he always comes back to his gentle giants. Far from the image of giant hooves and trampling steps, Athanasios paints a picture of grace and elegance as she and her Percheron, Smoke, roam the farms and wooded trails of the Shenandoah Valley in West Virginia.

Nonetheless, their gentle nature, solid structure, and strong work ethic are what tie them to other draft breeds. The Gypsy Manner Horse Society is one of the smaller draft -horse registries, with approximately 1,500 registered members since it was established in 1996.

Since then, several additional organizations have been founded in hopes of developing this unique horse that originated from the animal that carried gypsies across Europe. “We're a parade unto ourselves,” says Tweedier, who now breeds her beloved horses at Gypsy Manner Ranch in both Redmond, Washington, and Ocala, Florida.

“The demographics are people who've paid their dues with hot horses,” says Tweedier. Commonly associated with the Anheuser-Busch team of noble bay giants, Clydesdale's are rarely appreciated for their abilities as riding horses.

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Over the years, Johansson has developed an affectionate bond with the 10 gentle giants at her farm. Myth-Busting You may've ruled out a draft horse as trail mount because of common misconceptions associated with these breeds.

“A healthy draft horse has just as much energy and is just as capable of cantering and galloping as any other breed,” says Beth Valentine, DVD, PhD, professor of anatomic pathology at Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine, a draft -horse owner, and co-author of Racehorses, an Owner's Manual (www.ruralheritage.com/bookstore). Reality: It's true that the colossal size of some draft horses makes them majestic creatures.

Myth #3: It's impossible to mount a draft horse unaided on the trail. Reality: While it can be difficult to mount a tall horse on the trail, there are ways to overcome this challenge.

According to Dr. Valentine, draft horses need about three-quarters of the amount of feed per body weight than light breeds.

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