Very few homesteads use actual “horsepower” on their farms these days, preferring instead to rely on mechanized power. Here are some best draft horses to consider, the top breeds for your homestead, and all the major reasons why you should get started with this old-fashioned skill.
They are perfect when it comes to tilling and plowing, as well as pulling carts, logs and tractors stuck in mud. Draft horses are ideal for people who want to log the forest or till the field without completely tearing it up and compacting the soil.
Because horses have better weight distribution than heavy machinery, they can work more efficiently and with less long term impact on the land. Plus, draft horses are more nimble than these pieces of equipment, allowing you to work in harder-to-reach or muddy areas without getting stuck.
Gentle giants, they are the perfect breed to build confidence in young learner riders. Bred specifically for farm work, this horse has a gorgeous cream coat and amber-colored eyes.
A chestnut-colored horse with a white mane and tale, the Belgian measures up to 17 hands and weighs roughly a ton. They are usually bay colored with notable white feathering, but can also be brown, black, roan, and chestnut.
A French draft horse, the Percheron is native to La Perch, just southeast of Normandy. A large horse, it is usually black or a beautiful dapple gray but other colors can be found, too.
A black horse with white markings, the Shire is becoming more popular on the farm as well as in the show arena. Yet despite their size and stature, has a wonderful temperament and grabs attention everywhere they go, plus they make a beautiful tourist attraction when used to pull wagons.
First imported from Great Britain in the 1880s, this horse is unfortunately listed as critically threatened by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Bred in Europe after World War II, Brabant is a thick-bodied Belgian with heavy leg feathering.
It’s not a super common breed of draft horse, yet it is a strong, leggy horse that’s perfect for work around the homestead, as can be seen above. Native to the Netherlands, the Frisian horse is a graceful, nimble light draft horse that has been used as a warhorse in the Middle Ages.
With their striking black color, high-stepping action, and flowing wave manes and feathers, this is a useful horse to have around the homestead. They are sturdy and eager to please and are frequently used in show competitions for umping, far work, and endurance.
A typical Harbinger will stand about 15 hands tall and weigh roughly 1,000 lbs, making it one of the smaller draft horse breeds. You will need to provide them with regular veterinary care and be aware of various potential health issues, too.
The minimum daily caloric requirement for one of these creatures is at least 10,000 calories for every 1,000 lbs of body fat. Some medical issues are specific to draft horses, such as Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy.
This condition causes the muscle fiber to atrophy as a result of the body’s inability to metabolize starches. At the end of the day, caring for a draft horse comes down to being attentive to your individual horse ’s needs and abilities.
It’s best to exercise caution in the beginning, too, particularly if you are working with a young or inexperienced team. Watch out for the potential health issues that your breed is prone to, and inspect your animals daily for signs of injury or illness.
Draft horses also have a more difficult time controlling their own body temperatures during the hot summer months. Make sure you have a shady area on your property, either in the barn or the pasture, where they can cool off.
Always carefully inspect the hooves of your horses before bringing them home, as this will give you an idea of their overall health. If you’re new to draft horse work, you might want to consider buying an older team that has been trained well with an experienced teamster.