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Best Draft Horse For Beginners

author
Christina Perez
• Friday, 16 October, 2020
• 8 min read

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.

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Contents

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.

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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.

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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.

draft paint horse cross trail gelding beginner henry horses reno
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Physical Characteristics: Medium-boned; finely chiseled head; wide forehead; flat profile Generally, geldings (castrated adult males) are the calmest and make the best beginner horse.

Physical Characteristics: Compact body; wedge-shaped head; short back with sloping shoulders and powerful hindquarters Largely bred for racing, a thoroughbred might turn out to be more horse than most beginners can handle.

Physical Characteristics: Muscular body; broad chest; strong hindquarters; distinctive coat pattern These horses are typically attentive, social, and have a strong desire to please their caretakers.

The Missouri fox trotter horse is another gained breed for a comfortable ride. With its head down and tail up, the horse steps deliberately with one always foot in contact with the ground.

Justus de Cuveland/Getty Images Icelandic horses are sure-footed, long-lived, and resistant to harsh conditions. They descend from Shetland ponies, and their small stature makes them feel less imposing to new riders.

draft horse paint cross henry trail beginner gelding horses reno
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Their special step is called a “told,” which is a sped-up walk that offers a level ride even over rocky terrain. Australian Scenic/Getty Images Clydesdale's often have a quiet demeanor that beginners enjoy.

These horses tend to be forgiving of a beginner’s mistakes and are generally calm and steady. Sometimes saddle fit and tack sizing can be difficult for these large horses.

Physical Characteristics: Feathering on legs; round feet; broad forehead; arched, long neck In general, beginners should avoid untrained and highly spirited horses, as they can be difficult for even veteran equestrians.

Similarly, the athleticism of Andalusian horses can make them difficult to manage for beginners. A novice rider needs to gain proper balance, requiring a horse that gives them confidence in the saddle and forgives their mistakes.

The United Kingdom and Ireland might be small countries, but they have an incredible diversity of native horse and pony breeds, many of which are perfect for novices. Morgans stand an average of between 14.1 and 15.2 hands high and easily recognized by their small stature, graceful, upright necks, and well-muscled bodies.

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Morgan horses are ideal for beginners because of their sweet, gentle natures and strong desire to please. The Morgan horse can do it all being favored in both English and western disciplines, trail riding, and carriage driving.

Gypsy Manner horses resemble a draft type animal with an average height ranging between 14 and 15.2 hands high. Initially, the Gypsy Manner lived as a member of the family, coping with the hazards of everyday life on the road.

Perhaps the main reason why Gypsy Manners are ideal for first-time horse owners if the fact they are a very hardy breed. The Connemara pony is native to an area in western Ireland where they were the backbone to many Irish farming families.

The Connemara pony has a gentle disposition and loves human interaction, making them easy to handle and train. Safe, sensible, intelligent, and patient, this hardy breed is a superb mount for both beginner adult and children horse riders alike.

Connemara's ponies are incredibly athletic and versatile with a natural jumping ability and seen competing in all disciplines as well as trekking and hacking. They evolved from the Section A Welsh Mountain pony, crossbred with larger breeds like Arabians, Hackneys and Thoroughbreds to create a sturdy animal.

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This hardy breed is intelligent and friendly that is gentle enough for children and beginner adults to ride, but with the ability to compete in different disciplines with a more experienced rider. Because of their varied size range and calm nature, the Welsh Cob is found in many riding schools, being useful for different types of clients.

Bred for its strength and size, these gentle giants performed in battle, as farm horses and for pulling carts. The Shire horse is renowned for their kind, easy-going nature and is not easily spooked and rarely buck or rear.

However, its exact origins are uncertain but thought that the bloodlines include European draft and warm blood breeds crossed with lighter framed Spanish horses like Andalusian's. They became all-around horses carrying out farm work, pulling the cart to take the family to Sunday Mass as well as the owner’s mount in the hunting field.

Compared to other draft breeds, the Irish Draft is smaller standing between 15.1 and 16.3 hands with a lighter frame. However, they are incredibly versatile with an impressive jumping ability and compete in all equestrian disciplines as well as for use in the mounted police.

Strong and sturdy, Norwegian farmers used Fjord horse to pull heavy loads on their hilly farms. The Fjord horse is possibly the oldest and purest breed in the world, originating from Norway more than 4000 years ago.

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The Harbinger horse originated in Italy and Austria during the late 19th century, developed for transportation and farm work. Temperament is a significant part of the Harbinger breeding programs, and horses should have a kind and quiet nature.

America’s favorite horse breed comes in three categories of Bulldog, Thoroughbred and Progressive, standing between 14 and 16 hands high. Hot breeds such as Arabians and Thoroughbreds are generally too highly strung for an inexperienced rider to handle although there are exceptions.

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Sources
1 extension.umn.edu - https://extension.umn.edu/horse-nutrition/feeding-weanling-and-yearling-horse
2 ker.com - https://ker.com/equinews/feed-management-weanling-and-yearling-horses/
3 practicalhorsemanmag.com - https://practicalhorsemanmag.com/news/health-update-25757
4 www.integrityhorsefeed.com - https://www.integrityhorsefeed.com/growth.php
5 www.brandtsmill.com - https://www.brandtsmill.com/our-products/horses/