Which Breed for Carriage / Sleigh Driving? - The Horse Forum
  • 2 Post By Incitatus32
  • 3 Post By Mulefeather
  • 2 Post By Avna
  • 1 Post By PaintHorseMares
  • 1 Post By DraftyAiresMum
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  • 1 Post By ChitChatChet
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post #1 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Northern Illinois
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Which Breed for Carriage / Sleigh Driving?

Hi all, I'm new to the forum. My husband and I are moving to a new home with a gorgeous two stall barn on 2.8 acres in northern Illinois. The property is next to a Christmas tree farm and a forest preserve 1.2 mile down the road. I wanted to get a horse but having trouble deciding which breed. I am hoping to have a multi-purpose horse that can pull a sleigh or carriage and also can ride trails. I would eventually like to give the neighbors and friends rides. I am somewhat of a beginner. I took English lessons for a year like 8 years ago and I go on trail rides on my vacations. I have never owned a horse before. I am looking to get a horse capable of pulling a 4 person sleigh or carriage. I realize that a sleigh is harder to pull than a carriage with wheels. I only want one horse at this time. (The barn has two stalls.) I am kind of intimidated by the draft horses and was looking at the Morgan horse. What are your thoughts? Would that be too much for a smaller horse other than a draft?

Thank you.
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post #2 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
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The right Morgan horse is bred to do everything a draft horse does AND a light horse. I use Morgans to do carriage and sleigh rides, ride and race. Never had any of them that weren't able to do any job I threw at them.

That being said driving is VERY different than riding and often MORE dangerous, so you need a competent trainer before you do anything else.
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Incitatus32 is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 04:18 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Harrisburg, PA
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For a four-person sleigh, you're looking at a draft horse- light breeds are going to have trouble pulling anything that heavy on runners, through snow. A lighter horse could handle a two-person sleigh. But since winter is only one season and you want a horse for things you'll be doing a lot more of the time (trails, carriage driving, etc), I would focus on that rather than trying to hit all your wants right off the bat.

To start, I'll say that the best breed is "broke" and "gentle", which can come from MANY breeds and types of horse. When you search, look at individuals rather than breeds. If an Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, Saddlebred, Arabian, or a Heinz 57 mutt, whatever comes across your path that is gentle, willing, and SAFE, that's the horse you want. I would take refresher lessons with both riding and driving instructors before you start shopping, and take someone with you when you go to look at a horse. A mistake buying a riding horse can hurt you, a mistake buying a driving horse is force of mass destruction set loose.

A standardbred would suit most of those purposes just fine, and there are MANY of them out there that have already been retrained from being off the track and can be adopted through various organizations. Most of them are also fantastic horses who are very well-suited for trail horses and general riding horses due to their training at the track -they're used to noise, fuss, traffic, being loaded and unloaded off trailers, being bathed and groomed, hitched and unhitched, and lord knows what else, pretty much from the day they hit the ground.

Get to know the driving and riding community where you will be living, and talk to a lot of people- that's the best way to find what you want!
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post #4 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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Two Morgans (they could keep each other company at home, as well). Make sure you get a more 'traditional' type of Morgan, as the show type can be lightweight and flighty. Look for words like old-style, traditional, or Lippit.

Or a pair of Haflingers, which are moderately commonly sold as small work horses in the Midwest, according to the ads anyway.

If you really want to drive, buy a steady well-broke team of small stocky horses built to pull, and take lessons. Gosh, I would love that!

It is on my bucket list, driving a pair through the snow. With bells!
I have a ways to go on this dream (I have one Morgan, not trained to drive, and no snow).
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post #5 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 04:53 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Orange County, NC
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Our stocky trail riding Paints pull wedding carriages with no problem. Don't have enough snow to ever try a sleigh, though.
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post #6 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 05:50 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Chino Valley, AZ
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A good draft cross would fit the bill nicely. My guy is Percheron/paint. Granted, he's 17hh, but there are smaller draft crosses out there (another member has a gelding who is the same cross and a year younger than my guy and he's 15.3hh). I can trail ride my gelding, plus he's got the umph to pull. The same member with the other Percheron/paint I mentioned also has a Belgian/QH cross is her go-to ranch horse and can drag a fighting cow like it isn't even there.
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post #7 of 10 Old 11-03-2015, 05:56 PM
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Western Massachusetts
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This is what I mean:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg haflingerteam.jpg (65.1 KB, 62 views)
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post #8 of 10 Old 11-04-2015, 11:55 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Northern Illinois
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Thank you so much everyone. I would definitely take lessons before I would make a purchase. Thank you for all of your suggestions. I really appreciate it! :)
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-04-2015, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Idaho
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Two Dales ponies would pull your 4 person sleigh with ease I think.

I drove a team of Dales this summer. We rode them all day harnessed them up that evening to pull a carriage with 6 adults and 2 children. They never broke a sweat. Amazingly strong little things

They where about 13 hands. The amazing thing is that before this summer they had been unused for 4 years. You would have never know it. They where harnessed up and driven with no issues whatsoever.

I have a Morgan right now that I am not pleased with, I know my displeasure shouldn't go across the the entire breed as most Morgans are wonderful. Mine is too as long as I dont ride him, packing is fine. Maybe I should teach him to drive...hmmmmmm
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post #10 of 10 Old 11-07-2015, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Southern Michigan, smack in the middle, just over the boarder
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As far as strength goes, any decent haflinger could do what you want just fine. As far as brains go, the right haflinger could do it. Plus, most haflingers can live on just about anything and don't need a high dollar diet, at least not for the occasional work that you are considering. I suggest picking your horse more by its personality than anything. A horse with a level head and bad confirmation is ten times more useful than one with a flutter head and perfect confirmation; or, to look at it another way, find one you can love and depend on, because then you will want to be with it and and work with it and keep it happy.
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