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Riding Draft Horsses?

6306 Views 39 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  draftrider
Ok, so out of all of my years of riding horses, I have yet to ride a draft horse. I would like to know from those who have experience riding drafts, how it is. Is it kind of like sitting on a big couch (bareback)? Is it bumpy, really comfortable, etc. I really want to ride a draft horse dude! haha
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I've enjoyed reading this thread. Have to agree with the "tank" description. I've only ridden one draft, lovely Percheron mare, so I am very limited in my knowledge. However, she was wonderful in the walk and canter, but oh my, that trot could loosen my back fillings!

Gotta agree with kevinshorses, would love to have that mare (though I'm sure she's deceased now) but I don't have the same "equipment" to trade!LOL!
If Thoroughbreds are Greyhounds, draft horses are English Mastiffs. That's the best analogy I can give you. :wink:

All the drafties I've ever ridden have been like big, round, comfy, lofty, smooth couches. Although my big guy is a bit klunky and clumsy, his trot is heaven. It was really weird the first time I got on my draft colt. I was used to Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses, and he had a lower center of gravity and a heavier, slower step. But like I said, I could trot on him all day long. :) If you ever get a chance to ride a draft, go for it.
I'm the complete opposite - I've ridden more draft/draft crosses than anything else since I started riding! :lol:

As has been said, they do bounce into canter, so that's something you have to remember. And yeah, they're a bit wider (the "tank" description is accurate!!) so a good stretch is advised before you get on board! Oh, and use a mounting block/step - getting a leg-up onto a 17hh Clydesdale is NOT for the faint-hearted!!

Here's a group of us at a place called Cumbrian Heavy Horses in the Lake District - the only dedicated heavy horse riding centre in the country!

(I'm in the middle, in the orange hi-viz, on the biggest horse - an 18.2 gelding called Ollie!)

And here's two of us racing down a track!


I rode my Sally bareback once - it was like sitting on an armchair.

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Wow Daren, those are some awesome pictures. :D
Thanks! :)

Look for my thread on Clydesdales - there's TONS more! :lol:
My Jack (18.3hh shire) is a great ride, everyone who rides him can't help but smile :D He's responsive, makes downward transitions in two strides, is forward going and all paces are extremely comfortable - his width and the fact that rising trot means you have a moment of freefall :lol: are the only differences...that and his slow but steady walk!





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How stunning is he!!! haha would love to see him out doing dressage, you must have mega long legs, such a big horse to keep together!
How stunning is he!!! haha would love to see him out doing dressage, you must have mega long legs, such a big horse to keep together!
That's one of our plans...among many! We'll be starting with ridden shire/heavy classes in the shows this season and seeing how we progress! :wink:




This is my perch mare! She does everything and anything and is the best money I've ever spent. I got her as a green 4 y/o and now shes doing great in dressage and hunters. Just recently we started schooling flying lead changes and she has picked them up very quickly. Please dont mind my position I'm working on getting it stronger again!
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I've only ever seen a Percheron once, a stallion, and it was MASSIVE! It put some of the Clydesdales to shame!
I just rode a draft for the first time the other day, it really wasn't any different to me. Now mind you he was a 32 year old Clydesdale and it took alot to keep him walking so we didn't do anything but a walk LOL. But being up there wasn't any different :p I would love to ride a draft w/t/c, though!
Come to the Lake District in September - you'll get to do it! :lol:
Daren: Those pics of you on the last page with those gorgeous drafts is really cool!! I bet it's fun to run those mammoths like that! I really want to ride a draft at WTC and possibly...G(I bet its real fun)!
I had a brief flirt with gallop on a smallish (16hh) Clydie a couple of years back. Downhill. Not for the faint-hearted...!

However, check these video clips out:



These are the guys I ride with in The Lake District.

How much fun does that look? :D
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A hint for those whose drafts have choppy or rough trots- simply lean forward and put your hands on the base of their neck while you trot. It helps to stabilize you. Not very pretty in a show ring, but if you're out in the pasture or trotting down the road it really helps.

One thing I love about my drafts is the thunder. When a light horse gallops, its... alright. But when your drafts come a running you can feel the ground shake. They are amazing!

Most drafts ARE very gentle, but can also be stubborn. I've seen very few lazy ones. My Perch is very athletic and just loves to run. Nothing more amazing than a gallop on a 2000 lb plus animal.
Got to agree on the "thunder"!

I remember standing at the gate calling Arwen so that I could give her her usual evening apple, and across she came, like a bat out of hell.

She could be heard by people in the yard, a hundred yards away!
Haha, the first time I loped John out in the pasture, Dad and I were riding together. It took John a minute to get up into the lope but when he did, my Dad got to laughing at me and said "It sounds like a steam locomotive is trying to sneak up behind me."
My horses are crosses, not pure draft, but they are night and day difference to ride between the two of them, so I thought worth the mention. :D

My gelding, Claymore (part Clyde, the one in my avatar) had a real jackhammer trot when I got him. He was green when he came to me and had not been taught to collect or move properly, and with some training he has learned to be much lighter on his feet, so it's decent now. Not great, but certainly tolerable. His canter is still a work in progress, some days it's perfect, smooth and collected as can be, other days it's just "hang on and hope there isn't a fence nearby" because he pounds the ground for all he's worth. Like I said, still a work in progress. He's very eager to go-go-go! A single kiss is all it takes to transition from walk to trot and trot to canter.

My mare is a different story. She's half Shire, and while we have had off and on soundness issues with her last year, I'm crossing every finger and toe to hope she is past all that now - because she is a great ride. Her trot is like gliding, I actually had to have someone watch me riding to make sure she wasn't somehow gaited, it is THAT incredibly silky smooth. Her canter, if possible, is even more delightful, easy, rocking horse style that feels like floating. When I got her, she had just been a broodmare all her life, never been broke to ride, but I had her riding easily with only about 3 hours on her back, and took her off the property for an extended trail ride after only about 10 hours on her back. Moving in a balanced, collected way seems to be just innate with her. She'll never, ever win any speed competitions, but she's dreamy to ride. She's super willing to do anything you ask, but she's much more laid back of a personality than Claymore is.
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Speed- yes it takes a few strides to get up to speed, but once you get going, you stay going!

One thing I have found that is pretty much universal is their willingness to please people.
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