#1 Boarding. Does it normally cost more to board a draft? Will most boarding centers even allow you to board a draft horse being that they're so big?
I don't board my horse but I've heard most places charge more due to the potential damage a draft horse can cause to the facilities.
#2 Cost. Does it cost more to care for a draft than a lighter horse. What does it coast annually on average?
I'm not sure exactly what it costs to feed my guy annually but he goes through about 1/2 a 100 lb. bale a day in hay and bales run $13-$19 a bale for good grass hay. Some draft horses can't be fed alfalfa due to a metabolic disorder that runs in drafts. You might have to pay extra if they don't feed grass hay.
#3 Shoeing. Do draft breeds have to be shod, or can they go barefoot?
Not all drafts have to be shod. I live in CA where it's very rocky and have to keep my gelding's front feet shod. Luckily my farrier charges me the same to do his big feet as he does to do my other horse but that's very unusual. Some people have a hard time finding a farrier who will care for their horse-very hard on their backs and toes I've been told!
#4 Riding. What age are drafts able to be ridden and are they good for riding? Do they have good gaits?
My gelding is 5 and hopefully done growing. I waited until he was 3 to get on and only did light trail riding at the walk, started trotting more at 3 1/2, increased the demands on him and did a little arena work at 4 and finally cantered him at 5. He is a draft cross, well-proportioned, longer legs, neck, more angle to his shoulder than a full-draft and his walk and trot are lovely. His canter is very unbalanced right now but still not bad.
#5 Tack. Do many places carry draft tack? Does it cost more?
Not too many places carry draft tack around here so I've had to order on line and once in a while something shows up at my local consignment store. It hasn't cost me any more except that I had to keep getting new saddles while he was growing...... finally I think we're done in an XL tree!
#6 Temperament. Are they generally gentle or more excitable than lighter horses?
My gelding has been extremely easy to train and 75% of the time, he is soooo calm and sensible but like any other horse, he has his moments of insanity. He's an amazing trail horse, loves water, very brave, easy-going, rides double, no fuss ever :)
#7 Grooming. About how much longer does it take to groom a draft?
Well, my daughter's complain when they wash him that it's like washing 2 horses and hard to reach his back so we need a stepstool. At 40+ I have great biceps!
#8 Breed. What are some of the more common breeds? What are the ones that you like most?
My gelding is a cross of perch/paint/clyde/TB. I think often drafts are crossed with TB's which makes a pretty nice riding horse.
I bought my gelding from a PMU rescue for $900 as a yearling and have done all his training. Don't know what he'd be worth now but I get compliments on him all the time :) There are a lot of needy horses out there right now at auctions and rescues so look in your area, call your local animal control/shelter, etc.
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