Considering becoming a draft horse owner...
For other draft horse owners out there, what are some things you had wished you had known before you had bought your first draft horse? What are some tips you have for anybody looking at buying a draft horse?
The price difference in everything. Their trimming and shoes cost more. They need more fly spray because they are bigger. I don't care what anyone says my drafts eat more pellets. They can't have grain and the pellets are more expensive. They need bigger girths, bigger bridles and bigger halters, all cost more than normal horses. If you let them develop normal bad horse behaviors you have a bigger horse to deal with. They do better in bigger stalls. They have certain health issues normal horses don't usually get... well from what I heard anyway. Like canker and they are prone to mud fever or scratches, if they have feathering you have to keep it clean.
Oh and if you are trail riding....you have to duck more often.
BUT they are usually laid back, easy to get along with. Most of the time they have big personalities. And they are amazingly beautiful.
Why can't drafts have grain? You're not the first to mention this. The mare that I am looking at appears to be a super easy keeper and if I get her I was thinking I would put her on a RB.
Ditto pretty much everything SUJ said. All your costs - tack, supplies, care, require MORE. Add to that, some vet bills are higher - more sedation required to put a bigger horse out enough for teeth floating means higher cost, etc. I don't necessarily agree with the more feed but that varies horse to horse, and in what you are used to feeding. I do spend a lot of time bathing feathery fetlocks. lol
I think if there was one thing I wish I had known before getting a drafty, it would be a reliable source for good quality, affordable tack. There is a LOT of crappy quality draft tack out there. Good stuff is harder to find, and comparatively a lot more expensive!
ETA: on the grain front - drafts are bigger, heavier horses, with a slower metabolism then most lighter breeds, that can make them more prone to founder with the wrong feeding regimen. Sweet feed is an absolute no, but then I personally believe it should be an absolute no for ANY horse. You have to be a bit more vigilant on their diet, with regards to what they are taking in, sugar levels in hay and feeds (I have my hay content tested) and in some easier keepers, grazing muzzles can be a must in the summer months.
This mare appears to be a rather easy keeper, but I have yet to set up a time to go see her in person yet. Where I would board her she would be out to pasture half the day and on a dry lot the other half. I will likely get her on a LSLS feed or a RB if she is a really easy keeper.
I agree 100% with the tack issue. Unless you ride western, you are not going to find any quality saddle. My son rides english and english draft saddles and bridles are practically nonexistant.
Also, agree with the extra cost in farrier work and even small things like wormer...take two tubes.
On the other hand, I can list a thousand reasons why I love my draft....
They are fantastic, family friendly horses.
Unless the draft is in heavy work, most cannot have grain....or shouldn't anyhow....they are usually extremely easy keepers....prone to fatness. Keeping their weight down is usually a battle.
Let's see, if you get a draft cross it is more difficult to find tack because they don't quite fit the draft bridles, but are too big for the warmblood size! I had to buy one of each and put the pieces he needed together to get a fitting bridle! There are quality English saddles-I use a Thornhill Berlin, extra wide and it is great! Some farriers have charged me more for doing his feet but my current farrier does not, because he is well-behaved. He takes a lot of grass hay, about 5-7 flakes a day depending on the season but doesn't really need anything else although I give him flaxmeal for his coat and vitamins. I really need a bigger/taller trailer but luckily he is calm and I use my 3 horse slant..... I get a lot of comments like "How's the weather up there?" as we're riding or "Geez, that horse is huge!" Love him to death!
I have three drafts. I co-own a full blood 18 hand percheron mare that gains weight like crazy no matter what she's on so one flake morning, all day turn out and one flake of hay evening works perfect with her. I mix MSM into beatpulp to help with her joints since she has mild arthristis from an old cart injury.
My Clydesdale eats the same amount as my trainers thourobred and get's worked 4 days a week. She's on 2 flakes morning and night, 1 flake alfalfa dinner time, 9-5 turn out. Fed a mix of beatpulp and alfalfa pellets that fill a water bucket morning and night.
My Gypsy Drum mare eats the same hay ration as my Clydesdale but only gets a small bucket of beat pulp and alfalfa pellets. One of the treat bucket sizes I think it's a 3 gallon? not sure the amount, my trainer would know though since she feeds.
It does cost more but it helps if you have hook ups. All the tack I found I went to consignment stores for. I have an extra wide tree dressage saddle that fits my Clyde and Drum mare and an extra extra wide all purpose jumping saddle for my drum mare that also fits my percheron but not my clyde. Bridle sizes are warmblood easily found in tack stores and my percheron has the only custom 7 inch bit. all my others are 5.5 and 6 inch.
I actually had my step dad make me a bridle. It amazingly is basically a one size fits all. I've been trying to talk him into making me a couple more. But it's a western bridle. I forgot about the trailer issue. We can't take our Belgian anywhere because he can't fit in ours. And I think the reason I say he eats more than the other horses is because I have a Haflinger, Haflinger X Gypsy and a 14h grade mare. Who can live off a lot less food than him.
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