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Dr Sarah Taber @SarahTaber_bww
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what the heck let's do a draft horse thread

This thicc boy is a Brabant, same really cool blue roan coloring as the Ardennes horse from earlier.
Before about the 1940s, the Brabant & the (US) Belgian were the same breed. But after that they diverged. In Europe they bred them to be ... uh ... meatier. Like literally shorter & blocky because after WW2, the main reason to raise draft horses in Europe was for meat.
Meanwhile in the US Belgians became the horse of choice for those still using horses for work. So they were bred to be taller & leggier, the better to cover ground with.

Also bred out most of the feathering around the feet bc it collects mud- not very fun for a working horse.
I'm told that before WW2 the US's favorite draft horse breed was the Percheron. Don't know the reason for the switch. Like modern US Belgians they also tend to be taller, lighter draft horses with clean legs.
Clydesdales! They're unique among draft horses in that they weren't actually meant for farm work. They were for pulling carriages.

They were bred VERY tall -> long stride, plus the leg feathering.
Notice how the leg hair's super long, flows all the way to ground.

Listen: if it's the 19th century & you need to let people know you're a fancy twat, there's no better way to do it than with horses with fancy leg hair. Takes a stable full of grooms to keep that shit clean.
Next: the Shire horse. Used to have short feathering like Brabants. However this breed came close to extinction after WW2 & was crossbred with a lot of Clydesdales to bring it back. Now the coloration, shape, & feathering is very Clydesdale influenced.
Hmm so those are the major draft breeds. Let's do a couple ~exotic~ ones.

Note: in the last 10-20 years the dressage world discovered warmbloods. AKA "wow if we crossbreed Arabians with a draft horse, we get something that has a manageable personality & looks amazing."
So there've been a lot of interesting draft crosses, new proto-breeds being created, and very tiny breeds suddenly getting bred a lot more vigorously.

It's kind of cool, but also has led to some choices that are not always in the best interest of preserving working horse lines.
A great example is the Friesian. Even back in the day Friesians were gorgeous, so they were one of the dressage world's 1st choices for crossbreeding light horses to make warmblood sporting crosses.

It split the breed into draft/classic, baroque/medium, & light/sport lines.
This is crazy bc I looked up this breed ~15 yrs ago & it was p evenly split btwn heavy, medium, & light animals.

Now you have to really look to find a heavy one. Lots of these monstrosities though. : /

(can anyone else hear Will Forte going "ze Hapsburg line ... has ended.")
On the plus side though this is what happens when you cross a Friesian & an Appaloosa & we should do this all the time

just kidding, this little guy's coat matured into white with a few dark spots. but that foal phase was majestic you guys
The Fjord is from Norway, & interesting in that it's basically a draft breed that's pony-sized. Great choice for a place that needed animals that could work hard but also not eat everything in sight.
Like the Friesian, the Fjord is getting pulled into the show horse because it looks cool. It has the Ice Age horse-type coloration: a black stripe down the middle of the mane & back, plus some have zebra stripes on the legs.
Traditionally the mane was roached (cut straight across) for ease/comfort of working animals. However if you cut it fancy, it's also very Instagram-friendly, which is probably involved in the breed's current popularity.

See also: foal w pretty pronounced zebra stockings.
Hmm the Vanner horse is what happened when Romani in the UK kept using draft horses that everyone else was discarding after WW2. Roma liked spots; other still using horses in UK preferred solid colors. So the Vanner is like "all the UK draft breeds in a blender PLUS COLORRRR"
However like many draft breeds at this time, the Vanner's getting pulled into the world of "people who need to launder ill-gotten gains through breeding Glamorous Horses" which leads to a lot of shots like this one
Ok now for the best part, DRAFT MULES


Draft mules are the same awesomeness as regular mules (healthier, smarter, & eat less than horses) but DRAFT-SIZED
Draft mules typically have a draft donkey dad (yes. draft donkeys also are a thung) and a draft horse mom. Pictured: draft donkey.

US draft donkeys are a mix of European draft donkey varieties, which became a unique breed called the American Mammoth Jackass. Yes, for real.
Also France has a draft donkey breed called the Poitou that they kept just for making draft mules, and it is something else.

france why
Anyway, draft mules are just. ahhhh I like big ass & I can't deny

My work with draft animals has been somewhat limited but I enjoyed working with the draft mules a lot more than the draft horses. They don't startle, and they're a lot more proactive.
One time we had to move cattle pen panels around in a paddock that contained both rodeo cutting horses & draft mules.

The horses bolted to the other end of the paddock & stared.
The draft mules watched us for a moment. Then they figured out "ok, we're moving panels," walked over, & started nudging the panels around with their noses.

We didn't ask them to do it. They just saw a thing happening & wanted to get in on it.
Mules got a bad rap bc you can scare a horse into submission (you absolutely shouldn't do that. but it's possible). Folks got used to cruel, lazy horsemanship.

And then they tried it on mules. Who are way too smart for that shit. But if you're good to them? They'll hook you UP.
Anyway, that's a thread on draft equines.

Also if you ever find yourself in a scenario where you're dating a person who "loves horses but just can't stand mules" run aWAY. They have just told you something very crucial about themselves and it ain't good.
ps. this donkey has Such Good Legs(TM)
pls pardon the sickle hocks on the one to the left
you know you've seen too much shit when all you can see in this pic is "what's wrong with its forehead... why did they hide it like that"
In other "just kidding" news, to clarify, breeding horses for color is a TERRIBLE idea that is amply explored here:
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