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The Heavy Set
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The Heavy Set

I gave you some information about light breeds of horses, and now I will tell you about the opposite, which you surely guessed (if you didn’t know already) is known as the heavy horses, or draft horses, or even draught or dray horses, depending on where you live.

Of course, as the name suggests, this is a type of horse that is much heavier set physically. They are more muscular because they were bred this way. Unlike light horses, which are the closest type to ancestral breeds of equine, this horse was bred with the purpose of taking on heavy tasks to help farmers and general laborers. They are great for ploughing and pulling very large loads on a cart, such as logs, or even for some recreational uses such as group tours in the countryside, visiting places like maple shacks in Canada (‘cabane à sucre’ in French; popular in Quebec).

 These horses were also bred to be very docile. If not, it surely would be very difficult to make them accept the tasks they are needed for. Patience is also a strong characteristic they share, along with their incredible strength.

At time, the lighter breeds of heavy horses can be used for sports, but this is usually because they have been crossbred with a light breed of horse. They will mostly be used for driving carts and at times, under the saddle.

Of course, they are recognizable because they carry a much bigger muscle mass, which is very apparent at the shoulder level. Their movement is also generally more upright and they have very strong hindquarters. You can also see many of them sport a lovely, feather-like fur around the bottom part of their legs.

 

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Leave a Comment

  1. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Very interesting blog, Annie, I like anything with a historical angle to it! We call these type of horse "shire horses" here in Britain (not really sure why!) Please trot over and check out my latest blog, The Real Horse Whisperers, and if you like it, you know what to do, thanks! :-)
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  2. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Voted. I've always loved draft horses & have been fascinated by their history, lineage & different types of uses. Great blog. Please check out my new blog: Building Confidence Takes Time & vote if you like it. Thanks :)
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  3. jst4horses
    An important part of heavy horse history is the knight. Knights of old were not like movie knights. They had heavy horses that could stand up, let alone move under the heavy weight of the knight and the armor. Knights rode lighter horses to move across country, but the heavy horses and the wagons that pulled the tents, and armor and food for horses and knights are not adequately represented in movies. The big, heavy horses could withstand the slam of the lances against their rider. The tournaments were not as in the movies, they were filled with pomp and circumstance. Often just one knight would compete against one knight to settle an issue between disputing kingdoms. I feel it is necessary to remind ourselves always that whatever we humans force a horse to do, horses would rather be wild and live freely with their own culture. And they are members of the family. I will never forget one of the major reasons I quit training race horses, a man came to see his syndicated, million dollar horses when they came in to train for the opening seasons and hopefully one day go to the Kentucky Derby. He told his son"don't get attached, they are just investments". They are not, and to me a horseman is a person who never forgets to honor the horse, not just use it and dispose of it.
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  4. jst4horses
    An important part of heavy horse history is the knight. Knights of old were not like movie knights. They had heavy horses that could stand up, let alone move under the heavy weight of the knight and the armor. Knights rode lighter horses to move across country, but the heavy horses and the wagons that pulled the tents, and armor and food for horses and knights are not adequately represented in movies. The big, heavy horses could withstand the slam of the lances against their rider. The tournaments were not as in the movies, they were filled with pomp and circumstance. Often just one knight would compete against one knight to settle an issue between disputing kingdoms. I feel it is necessary to remind ourselves always that whatever we humans force a horse to do, horses would rather be wild and live freely with their own culture. And they are members of the family. I will never forget one of the major reasons I quit training race horses, a man came to see his syndicated, million dollar horses when they came in to train for the opening seasons and hopefully one day go to the Kentucky Derby. He told his son"don't get attached, they are just investments". They are not, and to me a horseman is a person who never forgets to honor the horse, not just use it and dispose of it.
    Log in to reply.
    1. Chestnut Mare
      Chestnut Mare
      100% agree jst4horses! But then Naturegirl and I are vegans and animal rights activists, so naturally we are against any kind of cruel exploitation of horses, or any animals. You might be interested in my latest blog, The Real Horse Whisperers, which touches on that subject, please check it out, and vote if you like it!:-)
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  5. love4equine
    love4equine
    I love my draft cross. She is my preffered trail mount. She is so calm and easy to ride. She definately has what we refer to as "draft brain", she doesn't react to things that other horses find scarey. I tell everyone that "I prefer my horses short and wide". Sierra is a Percheron/Morgan cross that stands 15.2 and weighs about 1100 lbs. Love my big girl!!! Drafts and draft cross are a great choice for larger riders and men too.
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