WHY are drafts so gentle and easy going... - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 10-24-2010, 10:37 AM Thread Starter
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WHY are drafts so gentle and easy going...

Well, we all know that, generally speaking, drafts are known for their calm dispositions and easy going manner.....

Well, our barn owner brought up a consideration: She was wondering if this was due to genetics. In other words, drafts are genetically predisposed to have kinder, gentler tempraments or whether it is because draft foals are typically handled by humans earlier and more consistently than a regular horse just because the breeder/owner wants to get a handle on their subservience to humans EARLY ON when they are young, when their size makes it easier to train them....

What do you think? Genetic predisposition or just consistent early human interaction???
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-24-2010, 11:44 AM
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I think it has to do with both. I believe they are genetically predisposed because of what they are breed for. They are work horses, they have been breed to be calm and strong. And because of their size and strength people do spend more time training them as you don't want something that big and strong getting spooked.

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Originally Posted by spookychick13
What Lone said.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-31-2010, 11:53 AM
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I think it just depends on the upbringing. I've seen a bucking horse( for rodeos) be drafts before.
I am working with one now and he is smart but can be very lazy and if he wants can plow through the bit. He was being jumpy yesterday and excited for this cool weather. He's easy to sit but deffinatly knows what he can and can't get a way with. He gives me a work out keeping him going but he's a good boy( he's only 5 too)
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post #4 of 11 Old 10-31-2010, 03:34 PM
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My Dad has always said that God knew what he was doing when he handed out horse temperaments. Can you imagine the temperament of your typical pony in a horse the size of a Clyde? That thing would be a killer. LOL.

That being said, I think it is like LS said, a combination of both. They are more prone to have a mellow temperament but how they are handled makes the final determination.

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post #5 of 11 Old 10-31-2010, 04:18 PM
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I think the calm disposition of the Drafts, came from their history of being work horses. Men of old, wouldn't have kept or bred, horses which could likely spook or run away pulling a plough, or going through the bedlam of cities, with a cartload of beer for the taverns.

Equally, carriage horses were favoured and bred for their flashing way of going and appearance. Small ponies were originally bred for their sure-footedness and obivous size.

All early horses had a job and were bred for the job intended. Just like dogs were bred for a job. Only more recently have all the different breeds of equine been kept for actual riding and pets. Therefore, we find different types, work ethic and temperaments.

The main reason my daughter first decided upon the Gypsy Horse, was because of their temperament. One of her mares, was the youngest horse to ever take part in The Rose Parade and that with only 30 days training. The Rose Parade is a huge test of temperament, considering the millions of people lining the route, with giant floats, kids throwing things and very loud bands. The mare didn't make a wrong move.

Certainly, careful breeding plays a big part and should today, just as in days gone by. Sadly these days, not everyone considers temperament first and we see some rank animals around and producing more of the same.

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post #6 of 11 Old 11-03-2010, 09:40 AM
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I think it has some to do with breeding - people wanted them that way. But I also believe it has to do with size.

It seems the smaller (on adverage) the animal the more aggresive. My theory is - survival. There are a whole lot more dangerous things out there when you're small, and a great big 18hh draft horse is alot more to take down. I realize that ponies are seldom eaten by cyotes, but survival instincts run deep.

I believe the same with dogs, little dogs tend to be more nippy and yappy.JMO
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-03-2010, 10:36 AM
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Drafts, fells, dales, punches, newforest ect. Are 'cold blooded' horses from cooler climates with less predators so they do not need to have such a flight, fight responce and they can 'chill' in their inviroment.

Whereas 'hot blooded' horses eg. Arabs need to be on-guard, more awake, ready to run, to protect.

So as we are 'predators' naturaly draft type horses can open up to us a bit more and don't have such an instinct to be weary around us they can relax.
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-06-2010, 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Rosalle X View Post
Drafts, fells, dales, punches, newforest ect. Are 'cold blooded' horses from cooler climates with less predators so they do not need to have such a flight, fight responce and they can 'chill' in their inviroment.

Whereas 'hot blooded' horses eg. Arabs need to be on-guard, more awake, ready to run, to protect.

So as we are 'predators' naturaly draft type horses can open up to us a bit more and don't have such an instinct to be weary around us they can relax.
I disagree with that. There are -- or in some cases were -- plenty of large predators in "cooler climates;" animals like wolves, bears and mountain lions. Wolves were and are a native species to Europe and North America but people have brought them to extinction in all but a few regions. In any case, breeds of domestic horse did not evolve through natural selection but rather though selective breeding for behavioural and and physical traits that people deemed useful for whatever purpose. As someone earlier said, it would not do to have a plough horse or a horse that pulled your cart into town for the market that was hot and spooky. The only truly wild horses which have developed through a few million years of natural selection are the Przewalski's horses of Mongolia.

Last edited by thesilverspear; 11-06-2010 at 07:57 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 11-06-2010, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by thesilverspear View Post
I disagree with that. There are -- or in some cases were -- plenty of large predators in "cooler climates;" animals like wolves, bears and mountain lions. Wolves were and are a native species to Europe and North America but people have brought them to extinction in all but a few regions. In any case, breeds of domestic horse did not evolve through natural selection but rather though selective breeding for behavioural and and physical traits that people deemed useful for whatever purpose. As someone earlier said, it would not do to have a plough horse or a horse that pulled your cart into town for the market that was hot and spooky. The only truly wild horses which have developed through a few million years of natural selection are the Przewalski's horses of Mongolia.

This. ^^ I actually find it a little ludicrous to imagine anything but man's hand shaped what temperament horses in their individual breeds have today. There was nothing natural or accidental about it.

Other breeds of horse whom are handled from birth still don't always have the same personality drafts do.

Likewise, not ALL drafts have that "gentle giant" personality.

That being said, while handling early plays a part I am sure in the big picture, as it does in any horse, I believe a draft's personality is primarily in the genetics.


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post #10 of 11 Old 11-06-2010, 03:52 PM
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Genetics - You try leaving two horses, say a Shire and an Arabian unhandled until they are 5yr olds & then bring them in to start their education.I've seen it time & time again you will have less of an arguement from the Shire.

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