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Hello all,

I'm still a few years away from being in a position to buy my first horse (still saving up/finishing school - currently part-boarding a horse) but I've just been day-dreaming and lightly considering my options just for fun. It's always been my dream to own a draft, or at least a draft cross - I just adore riding giant horses and the look/build of them. I don't think they're a terrible fit for what I want to do, either - I'm not interested in showing so I don't need a horse that's particularly fast/good jumper/etc. I'd like to be able to do some low-level cross country just for fun, but I wouldn't be jumping anything over 2 feet and wouldn't go for very long.

That being said, I know a lot of people are critical of drafts because of the extra expenses in feeding, the extra-large tack needed, the "lazy" stereotype, etc. So I wanted to ask current/previous draft owners about their experience owning a draft horse for riding. Would you consider it "worth it"? Were there certain elements that didn't live up to expectations or surpassed them? How much different was it from owning a non-draft? Is there a specific draft breed better suited to a bit of low jumping?

Thanks for all your help!
 

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If you could get ahold of an Irish Draught horse, you'd have just what you want, I think. I rode an Irish Sport Horse (Irish Draught X with thoroughbred) and he was the best horse I have ever ridden. He had the mellow, gently personality of a draft horse, but, when his engine kicked in, he was fast, sure footed, brave and even a bit 'hot'. Darn fine horse! 17hhs, too.
 

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When I think of draft horses I think of very large boned, short-coupled, heavy on the foot, really made for working by pulling not a riding horse.
When I think of draft-crosses I think of large boned, heavier and heartier horses, not some small, delicate looking horse...
Temperaments can run the full range from quiet to fire-breathing as with any breed.
Stabling and feeding needs met need some very educated individuals to truly feed a draft healthy...there is a difference!
Farrier care of a draft over a cross can be substantially different in prices and literally equipment needed....

I do though think it sounds enchanting to think of running cross-country jumping on a draft horse in reality you will be limited because of how many of them are built in what they can do even for short riding times.
They are built to go forward on flat ground, not jump over fences...the real drafts.
Massive butts, massive shoulders and necks used for straining into a harness and moving objects...not lifting those hooves feet in the air and clearing a jump...
They don't often move very fact, but at a very consistent speed to get their days work done.

Put some refinement in their blood by breeding in some "light" horse blood and you can come up with some nice combinations of pluses making running through fields, jumping fences and riding trails a lot of fun...
Refinement also softens some of the massive lines of work horse too to being a working partner easier to sit when your legs not resemble the Thelwell ponies...
Ever sit on a large Percheron or Clydesdale?
I have and I'm not short... :|

"Drafts" is a huge field of animals...
Want to narrow that field down some in what kind of draft you refer to...
You must have some idea of what you want...
:runninghorse2:...
 

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If I was in your shoes, I would go for a draft cross, if your wanting to do any type of jumping.
My experience with my full drafts. Riding is a pain, due to me being 5'4", you just don't get off just anywhere, you cant get back on (at least I can't) tack is more expensive, you cant go to the local shop and by it, usually you have to order it, and get 2 so you have a backup for next time. Yes you can jump a draft, I just wouldn't (my opinion only) its just its ALOT of weight coming down with a lot of force.
A lot of drafts are also not the most comfortable ride, especially if they have a history of being driven. I had a team of Belgians that were driven more than ridden and they would rattle your teeth out with anything over a walk. My 18 hd Belgian was like a couch to ride, he had never been put on the heavy wagon to pull either, but it goes back to the having to pick my place to get off and on.
The cost for feed isn't that different for me from a lite horse, but I don't have to buy hay and have grass in the summer. The farrier is a different story, It's a PAIN, the farrier I had for 8 yrs and loved decided to get a full time job, so since he's quit, Ive been thru about 6, most don't want to do a well behaved draft, much less one that has issues with holding up feet. So make sure they are good with their feet. Ive finally found one that I think I will be keeping for awhile. They also charge double what a lite horse pays.
Most full drafts will require a larger trailer also, they might not fit in a regular slant load. We use a livestock trailer.
Sorry for the rambling, there's so much to say about drafts. :)


I will always have drafts, however I mainly drive and not ride. They are my first choice.
 

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Even with a cross you have to look at conformation and suitability. Same really holds true for any purchase. Consider what you want to do then choose the horse that is conformationally sound for that purpose.



I'm not short and trail riding an 18h horse means you need help getting back on once you get off. Whether it is a fence, stump. ditch.... It takes effort.
 

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There is a difference between a draft horse that is solid muscle and wide as a bus and those that are narrower and leggier. The latter type do much better as saddle horses. At the World Clydesdale Show, there were quite a few Clydies who competed nicely in under-saddle classes-- a few crossed over from the farm team or show hitch classes, but the ones that did the best and looked to be a nice ride had never been driven-- they were purchased as a saddle horse from the start with an eye for nice movement, a little lighter build, and even temperament. Plus, a horse that is just a bit narrower is far easier to ride. I would look for a Clydesdale or Shire if you want a full draft, and a Clyde, Shire, or Percheron cross if you want a cross. There are some FABULOUS Percheron/TB crosses out there that are steady jumping machines.

A article about a gal who rides Clydes was seen on another horse enthusiast forum. The jumping video in the article shows a horse leaving the ring just before she enters-- that horse leaving is the type I would look for if I wanted a draft horse for pleasure/jumping. If you watch until the end, that horse wins the class and you can see him take a jump at the very end. If you search you can easily find that article and video embedded in it.
 

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Look up The Jumping Percheron.

Lazy? Not by a long shot. I am leasing a Percheron now, and lazy is not at all what she is. We do first/second/third flight fox hunting. We have done some dressage and low level jumpers, along with fox hunting and trail riding. There is another draft, Hank, I forget which breed, but he does first flight.

It is about training. It just feels so great being on a draft, like you are on an 18 wheeler.
 
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