How sure footed is your Draft?

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How sure footed is your Draft?

This is a discussion on How sure footed is your Draft? within the Draft Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category

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    10-02-2009, 12:12 AM
How sure footed is your Draft?

I have been busy reading your posts and looking at your horse pics. I am astounded that so many of you are riding such BIG horses - 17 hh and upwards. I am in New Zealand and I do not know of one person (outside of serious eventing) who rides anything over 16 hh for general trail/hacking.

I really wanted a heavy horse but was not prpared to go over 15.3, I was fortunate to have scored my young mare. She is incredibly solid, I had to sell my old saddle and invest in a new western with a 9" gullet. Phoenny is nearly as wide as she is tall, LOL!

Anyway my question is what sort of terrain are you mostly riding your horses on? In our area it is very steep, rugged country. Our biggest problem is not the roughness but what our hills are made of. We have what is known here as Papa clay. Papa is grey and is a really good hard quite smooth surface when it is dry. However as soon as it rains it is turns to mud and man oh man does it get slippery! The hiils in my area are also really prone to slips (landslides) and it is not unusual to find the track you used one day covered by a slip the next day after a good rain. By the way I am in Taranaki and we get A LOT of rain. Generally most slips are not too big and you can ride a horse over them or worst case scenario lead on over, most slips are maybe 3mt wide and knee to belly deep on an average size horse.
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    10-02-2009, 12:30 AM
question continued

Sorry ran out of room. My point is that the general belief is that a smaller horse 15 - 16 hh even if heavily built is going to be lighter therefore better in mud and bog. Also that a smaller lighter horse will be less likely to slip quite so much. Another problem in our particular location is that due to slips, tracks are often reduced to nothing more than goat tracks. And I mean that literally, we have a lot of wild goats and they walk around the very edges of big slips that cover tracks , eventually usually by the next summer when everything has dried out and hardened you end up with a foot wide goat track between a solid wall of dirt and a straight drop. I am wondering about hoof sizes for small tracks.

I would LOVE to have a big draft horse but I am genuinely unsure about their suitability in really tough terrain. I would sincerely love to hear what you guys are putting your big horses into and where you would be prepared to ride them. Or if there are honestly some places that you just wouldn't go with them. Cheers Steph.
    10-02-2009, 01:12 AM
Well, we have hilly, rocky terrain and some red clay around here, minus your rain! My gelding is about 17.3+, 1800 lbs. + and he handles himself very nicely around here, going up and down hills, around hairpin turns, etc. Once when we were by a river, his front end went into quicksand. He turned around and then his hindend went down up to his belly. He heaved himself out, blew his nose and off he went. I can say we are vertically challenged when it comes to riding under wooded areas!

He has nice big feet which might be an advantage for traction :)
    10-02-2009, 05:09 AM
I have draft ponies, so none above 14h ;) Here we're very rocky, hard, dry ground, nothing like what you have!
    10-05-2009, 10:22 PM
Green Broke
My boy is 18 hands and 2100 lbs. He didn't get his feet under him until he was about 7 but now he's extremely sure footed.
    10-05-2009, 11:28 PM
Whew, Solon, that makes me feel better about John. Maybe he will get better the older he gets. Right now I am not comfortable riding him on much more than mild grade hills. Nothing slippery or complex. He is really clumsy and will stumble over his own feet on flat dry ground. What makes it worse is that he will stub one toe then stub the other while trying to catch himself and almost fall. Bessie seems to really know where her feet are though, I have yet to see her stumble once since we've had her.

BTW: John is 18hh and 2000lbs and Bessie is about 17.2hh and probably 2100 lbs.
    10-06-2009, 12:52 AM
Thanks for your input guys. I thought your comment on John's clumsiness is really interesting. When I broke in Phoenix the thing that I fell in love with her the most was her lovely big walk. I found her to be extremely forward moving. As we progressed to bigger outings she seemed to be getting lazier and lazier instead of fitter. About six months down the track not only was she lazy, she was stumbling something awful, she just seemed to be tripping over her own feet. And then a small area of hair on her wither started to change colour. I had to stop using that saddle immediately and buy a new one. I invested in an extra wide gulleted western saddle. Suddenly I have my big striding, forward moving girl back! No more stumbling or hesitation going up and down hills. My original saddle was to narrow and pinching her shoulders. Just a thought.

Maybe when it comes to riding a big horse in the rough I just need to take some concrete pills and harden up. By the way the reason I am even asking this question is because I would love to put Percheron over my mare but obviously have worried a lot about progeny size.
    10-06-2009, 01:23 AM
How big is your mare again? If she is a standard sized horse and in good health, I am willing to be she could handle a percheron foal fairly well. Of course there are always risks in breeding and even more so when the sire is much larger than the dam but it is possible and does happen. I have a foal from a Belgian mare and a QH stud that I am looking forward to training and riding. Unfortunately, that is still 4 years away :,,(.

And I don't really think that the saddle is John's problem as he does the same darn thing free in the pasture. LOL.
    10-06-2009, 01:48 AM
Phoenix is 15.2 hh however her sire was a Suffolk Punch draft horse and her dam is a clydie thoroughbred x. Phoenny is not quite 5 yet so there is no hurry for breeding, she may get a little taller but the main thing about her is that she is still filling out. I have commented before that she is almost as broad as she is tall.

I have no doubt that Phoenix could handle a Percheron foal, what I question is my own ability to ride such a big horse in really rough terrain. I guess I am trying to work out if my fears are reasonable or irrational.
    10-06-2009, 11:01 AM
IMHO, drafts are like any other breed of horse. Sometimes you will get one who is really sure footed and other times you will get one that will trip over a blade of grass. Just like some will travel really smooth and others will beat you to death in the saddle. With the mare being the smaller of the parents, likely the foal would not be as big as if the mare was the big draft.

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