Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Draft horses in dressage!

I'm always interested in non-traditional horses in dressage, and know many of you are too. While I never really thought of draft horses as dressage candidates, some of these big guys look like they're kicking equine butt at the lower levels. Who knows how far they'll go? Hats off to these riders and horses!

Here's a short one to whet your appetite


This is a longish video but be patient -- what a nice walk!



This one's a cross but I'm partial to blue roans


That is one massive head! Can she bring it up a bit more?



There is another video of this one in flat work -- think he is in draw reins?



Overall, I'm impressed with the forwardness and the riders' ability to ride without appearing to muscle these horses around. I can't believe it's an easy job.


24 comments:

  1. Wonder what the feed bill is like? Draft horses are very easy keepers for their size, but they are still big! So many draft breeds have lovely shoulders and nice gaits. They are intelligent, kindly, quick learners with a great work ethic. I can see why one would try dressage.
    How about a draft pony? This one looks like a sweety pie. http://tinyurl.com/yc6yucc

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  2. Thank you for sharing this! My trainer has always show draft crosses and one of my good friends has a Percheron that she shoes in dressage and does really well with! They are very capable animals!

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  3. I LOVE draft horses in dressage, and jumping. They aren't just plow-heads ya know :) Though it can be tough on the big bones.

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  4. Thanks for the videos! I used to ride a Clydesdale and also a Suffolk Punch; drafts are lovely horses. They're smart and gentle and if they get interested in what they're doing they can be really forward too. The Suffolk Punch couldn't show jump to save himself but he loved to gallop around the small x-country course that was set up, he'd really put his heart and soul into it!

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  5. Very cool! Can't say I come across too many draft horses in the hunter ring but this little collection is a lovely bunch. They all seem surprisingly light -- I bet they are lots of fun!

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  6. One of the lovliest horses I ever knew was a Percheron mare. She jumped and did dressage with a good honest work ethic, and a super cooperative attitude.

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  7. I think they are cute. So not to be too critical but I didn't really love the canter on any of them. The last horse's canter looked the worst to me. Are drafties not known for their canters? I have little experience with them.

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  8. Drafties can make very good low level dressage horses and they really don't need as much "muscling around" as one might expect. The only time I ever had to really take a hold of my Percheron was when he became frightened out hacking (he is a terrible wuss) and I had to stop him from bolting through a woodlot. He was just wearing a snaffle but he stayed under control. But I sure ached all over the next day!

    My Perch is a pasture potato now but when I rode him I found there were interesting training issues. He had some difficulties with straightness and as drafts tend to pull from the front rather than pushing from the hindquarters. I found I was using a lot of John Lyons methods with him (controlling the shoulders is a prime consideration).

    He was quite a pretty mover back in the day. He is a big friendly lug and everyone loves him.

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  9. that's interesting bay horse, to me the canters were better than I thought drafts usually offer -- at least in terms of being a a solid 3 beats and fairly balanced. I know friesians (old style) used to have weak canters. I don't have a really discerning eye myself. Can you describe what you're seeing?

    I think the thing that gave me a sese of their limitation is the thickness of the neck and throatlatch, and sheer size of the head. Their butts looked small in comparison. Suppleness was lacking, maybe in part b/c of the sheer bulk. This to me was a talented group of drafties though.

    There are some NICE crosses out there.

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  10. Regarding the canter:

    Canters are quite often difficult for drafties. The first reason is the pulling rather than pushing that I noted earlier (had to post as anonymous %$#!ing Google password). So they tend to run into the canter. The other thing is their flat table backs. While this can make for a very comfy sitting trot, especially in the Percherons, it makes the true throughness in the back that a horse requires to produce a decent canter.

    It's not impossible and a good rider, ie. not me, and with a talented and knowledgeable rider . My former trainer could get my plough beast cantering, circling and producing a rudimentary flying change all while maintaining a nice balanced canter. When I rode him, well it just wasn't quite so pretty.

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  11. I'm not really an expert. But in my opinion, for what it is worth, some looked a little weak behind, but some videos are grainy so I can't be critical. The last guy at least looked rather strung out behind at the canter, and kind of running into it. Almost like a running walk in the hind legs crossed into a canter in front. I see what you mean about draw reins too. I didn't watch the other vid of him, but in the one you posted he looks broken at the 3rd vertebra and kind of tucked under.
    I guess I'm used to looking at warmbloods all day. Anyway, I think draft horses are adorable regardless. I wish I had more of a chance to work with some. :) I've tried to convince my husband that he needs one for years! Thanks for sharing these vids :)

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  12. Horses can (and often do) function outside their stereotypes. I can remember bemoaning my luck when I "drew" a young and very green Quarter Horse for a dressage test in college [waaaay back when]. I saw us as doomed to failure; but you know what? That little knocker performed brilliantly and we did quite well (sure taught me not to pigeonhole breeds :o)

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  13. Drafts are so much fun! I rode a Belgium mare a few times in lessons, including once over fences. She was a lot of fun to ride. Although, she did take a good amount of leg to get going, but she was easy in the mouth. You could feel it from the other side of the arena when she would trot or canter, and landing from a jump too! I was twelve when I rode her, so I had to use a step stool to groom and tack her; quite a funny sight!

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  14. Nice videos. Thanks for sharing. I love draft horses. :)

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  15. Draft horses are bred for work. Cantering is not necessary for work, so it's understandable that it's a weakness. Some draft breeds have changed a lot from lighter work horses to heavy work and now to getting sportier.
    Since we discussed dressage on RFDTV in another post, there is another show called "Rural Heritage" which often features draft horses doing farm and forestry work. Very enjoyable to watch. There is another show called "Training Mules and Donkeys", you can see mules doing dressage and eventing.

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  16. I used to have a draft cross who took a good bit of leg but lightened up in the mouth with training... eventually he needed less leg/seat but still a GREAT deal more than the thoroughbred I rode next. I didn't find his learning dull or anything. My group also used to take a green Shire eventing with us, who was a pretty good sport at very low level once he learned to jump over those "toothpicks." We also used to take an older Belgian cross mare in a pinch if we needed a show-morning replacement (aka someone's horse boycotted the trailer). She was a lovely lady.

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  17. well I thought they were a nice selection of drafts....I esp liked the first Shire.....

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  18. thanks for sharing...I love drafties, they're kind and intelligent and it's wonderful to see them in a dressage rink

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  19. These are beautiful videos. I have a Percheron mare who used to be able to wear my Warmblood's saddles. She however has matured a bit and NOTHING fits her any more. I need to find out where to get a Draft dressage saddle or at least a all purpose English saddle. Thank you for any info you can pass on.

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  20. RE:"...riders' ability to ride without appearing to muscle these horses around"

    Wow! You hit the nail on the head. I have a new-to-me Percheron/Standardbred cross and training with him has killed my form and makes me feel like I can't ride. One of the challenges is that I am leaning forward trying to drag him along! I think it's quite a trick to not appear to be "muscling these horses around" and I'd love to hear from anyone who is training a draftie in dressage about how you might get around that.

    Cheers.

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  21. Valerie,

    Here is a resource for draft sized tack http://drafthorsesaddle.com/index.php?cPath=13&osCsid=e603f461cae9067ecc8e4abf7e87f8f3

    Paula

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  22. I presently am schooling a wonderful Clydesdale that I found for an older student. Though I have 40 plus years riding and training all breeds and have a BHSI, I had never worked with this breed. They are surprisingly wonderful, at least this one is, super forward mover that accepts leg and contact and shows unreal ease with lateral work. here here Clydesdale!

    Roger

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  23. I presently am schooling a wonderful Clydesdale that I found for an older student. Though I have 40 plus years riding and training all breeds and have a BHSI, I had never worked with this breed. They are surprisingly wonderful, at least this one is, super forward mover that accepts leg and contact and shows unreal ease with lateral work. here here Clydesdale!

    Roger

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  24. I presently am schooling a wonderful Clydesdale that I found for an older student. Though I have 40 plus years riding and training all breeds and have a BHSI, I had never worked with this breed. They are surprisingly wonderful, at least this one is, super forward mover that accepts leg and contact and shows unreal ease with lateral work. here here Clydesdale!

    Roger

    February 1, 2014 at 6:45 PM

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