Riding drafts/draft gaits - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Riding drafts/draft gaits

I'll be traveling to England soon [on vacation], and I plan to do some riding there. One of the stables I'm planning to visit offers rides on draft horses -Clydesdales and Ardennes- exclusively. I've never ridden a draft before, and I was wondering how riding a draft differs in "feel" from riding a lighter horse... are their gaits significantly different? Choppier, smoother? Are some gaits easier to sit than others? Perhaps I'm flaunting my ignorance; riding a heavy horse may be exactly like riding a light horse... I'd just like to hear from people who may have ridden heavy horses before, or those who own a draft/drafts.
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post #2 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 05:45 PM
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There's no single difference really, as with all horses there are shorter, choppier, smoother versions of any. There'll be a nice amount of shoulder in front of you

Get up, get going, seize the day. Enjoy the sunshine, the rain, cloudy days, snowstorms, and thunder. Getting on your horse is always worth the effort.
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post #3 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 05:54 PM
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riding drafts

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Originally Posted by plummy View Post
I'll be traveling to England soon [on vacation], and I plan to do some riding there. One of the stables I'm planning to visit offers rides on draft horses -Clydesdales and Ardennes- exclusively. I've never ridden a draft before, and I was wondering how riding a draft differs in "feel" from riding a lighter horse... are their gaits significantly different? Choppier, smoother? Are some gaits easier to sit than others? Perhaps I'm flaunting my ignorance; riding a heavy horse may be exactly like riding a light horse... I'd just like to hear from people who may have ridden heavy horses before, or those who own a draft/drafts.
hi firstly i hope you have a great vacation ,is the riding at cumbria england. i have a huge belguim draft and at the age of 42 and not riding since a child , i can honestly say heavies are are fantastic like riding an armchair big bouncy and safe .my horse is unfit so kept at a walk and trot , but the cumbrian heavies all gallop etc , i cant imagine riding a normal horse now , the only bad thing about them is they do nothing for your figure as you can always say yes to that take away dinner etc , after all your heavy horse can take it xx have a great time
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post #4 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 06:05 PM
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Obviously, same general concept. They are heavier and clunkier maybe? Gaits are more drawn out I guess? My percheron is like riding a couch. She is much wider than my light horses, so your legs muscles may have to get used to it and cramp up at first. She is happier going slower. Turning a tight turn quickly is not happening. Have a great time!
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post #5 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 09:33 PM
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Are you going to the Cumbrian Heavy Horse Society? You'll have a great time, and have access to some absolutely fantastic hiking while you're there as well.
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post #6 of 16 Old 07-10-2012, 09:43 PM
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In my experience, the gait smoothness of a draft horse depends greatly on their conformation and ranges widely throughout a singular breed, just like any standard sized horse. Some are smooth and some are...not.

The gaits do tend to be a bit bigger and longer. For example, when I was riding my perch gelding, we could be loping across a pasture in a gait that was pretty darn slow for him, but the quarter horse my Dad was riding was galloping pretty fast just to keep up with us just because John's stride was so much bigger and covered more country.

Other than that, the biggest difference between them and a regular sized horse just has more to do with how big they feel between your legs and how high off the ground you are.

The very first time I rode my 18 hand Perch, I had flashbacks to being a very small girl (about 5 years old) and riding on my old stout roping horse. John made me feel like a little tiny thing sitting up there on him.
its lbs not miles likes this.

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post #7 of 16 Old 07-11-2012, 12:42 AM
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Oh....they make your butt look small too.
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post #8 of 16 Old 07-11-2012, 10:30 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much to everyone who replied- and yes, I am going to Cumbria. Hopefully I wont look totally ridiculous; some of their horses are 18-19 hh, and I'm only 5'5 and change.
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post #9 of 16 Old 07-12-2012, 11:25 AM
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Gaits are more pronounced and differ in smoothness horse to horse. Depends on their confirmation just like smaller horses. You sit differently due to the width between you legs and tend to sit in a position that resembles sitting in a chair. We have two Belgians that we ride on a regular basis. We rode more when we were with others that rode their drafts as smaller horses and larger horses traveling in groups wasn't really comfortable and some of the smaller horses shied away from the larger. You won't have that problem where you are riding. Have fun!!!! Our girls can be just as quick as many smaller horses and as their moves are bigger and less anticipated it is more easy I find to temporarily lose balance.
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post #10 of 16 Old 07-14-2012, 04:16 AM
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I was really surprised. Riding my draft is like eating a decadent chocolate mouse dessert rather than drinking chocolate milk (regular horses). Its rich and surprisingly enjoyable and oddly enough I feel like I sorta float there on a tank that makes you feel safe and warm and protected. Or at least that's been my experience.

And, luckily, you can do almost everything on a draft you can do on a regular horse. I've found polebending is a challenge because the poles need to be stretched out a bit more for the big horses to move through unless you can doing flying lead changes at every pole turn.

You'll love it.
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