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Are Draft Horses Good For Riding

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Wednesday, 23 December, 2020
• 7 min read

I am looking at getting a new horse and I just wanted to know what people thought of drafts for trail riding ?? If that helps, I have a Latvian Warm blood, light draft type.

horse percheron draft horses breeds breed clydesdale vs weight cheval percherons chevaux trait riding cavalos animals rock2 most pretty work
(Source: ihearthorses.com)

Contents

My drafts can last longer then my friends NHS BUT mine are worked on a regular basis, be it riding or driving. Our Belgians work all day in the Hatfield all summer and in the woods logging in the winter.

I also took my 17y/o Belgian gelding on a 15-mile trail ride, and he did fantastic, didn't even work up a sweat, and we trotted most of it. For a trail horse, a Draft is an excellent choice because they usually have more mellow personalities and are more sure-footed.

My Percheron TB cross does good on the trails, meaning she's level-headed, forward, not spooky, and hardly ever takes a bad step, but she does not have the stamina or the recovery after she gets tired of a lightweight horse. We usually do a ten-mile loop a couple of times a week, and we can do it at a pretty fast clip, but it took her much longer to get to that point.

), can carry an extra rider if need be, doesn't mind having saddlebags and other things draped on him, is a great size to pony other horses, does fine w/ endurance-went out recently with a friend while trying out a TWH, and we had to trot pretty much the whole 2 hours, and he was sweating but had energy and enjoyed himself, for such a big horse (1800+ lbs and about 17.3-18 HDS.) He is pretty nimble, can handle tight turns, steep ups and downs, mud, quick sand, etc.

Did you watch any of the competition for America's Favorite Trail Horse? There was a Spotted Draft Horse that competed, and it happens that I know the rider Erika Andrews and Tickle Me Elmo very well.

draft horse riding child horses ride rider equestrian ponies shire stick
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I competed many times in Northern Virginia judged obstacle trail rides with them, and Elmo was a constant winner. If you are talking about a lot of trotting and cantering then this is true, but they can walk all day long over rough terrain just fine.

Many of the draft breeds were developed for long work days pulling. It's not the same endurance as an Arabian that can trot all day long, but it is a type of endurance. We have a draft cross, and he has been a great trail mount for my husband.

Apache is mostly a good calm mount that can take him down the trail at an easy pace all day long. My first share horse was a Clydesdale, unschooled and green as grass, but we did do short trail rides around the farm.

The woman who runs CHH (above) regularly competes at endurance with one of her Clydesdale's.... Basically, sharing a horse means that you pay the owner X-amount each week, and get to ride their horse for a set amount of days. I used to pay Bracken's owner £20 a week to ride him at weekends.

My Fjord loves hacking out, she never wants to turn back. 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.

draft horse horses roan breathtaking ardennes coloring riding bit climb
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As with anything that can be categorized anywhere in the world, the broad category of horses is broken down into general types. Some examples of riding horses include Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, and Arabians.

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.

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.

percheron riding horse draft horses stallion mare info history horsebreedspictures
(Source: www.horsebreedspictures.com)

Draft crosses are even a preferred mount in fox hunting, 3-day evening, and dressage. 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.

In fact, ranch operations that provide guided trail rides are increasingly adding draft horses to their string. 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.

horse horses draft shire dressage riding mounting need ride pretty block flickr breeds friesian cosmopolitan explore clydesdale saddle mount animals
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

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. Correct saddle fit is critical to preventing back pain.

horses horse clydesdale riding shire draft bareback pretty amazing breeds thrill gives something still astride breed stallion pferde spirit maid
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

A saddle designed for smaller, light breed horses may pinch. 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.

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Sources
1 horserookie.com - https://horserookie.com/horse-riding-equipment-list/
2 horserookie.com - https://horserookie.com/horse-riding-gear-for-beginners-equipment-list/
3 www.actionridertack.com - https://www.actionridertack.com/Trail-Riding-Horse-Tack-Gear-s/1821.htm
4 animals.mom.com - https://animals.mom.com/tack-absolutely-need-ride-horse-10552.html