Average age for a draft horse???
We were looking at purchasing a 12 year old 18.2 hand Belgian gelding as a nice well broke horse to help us train our other younger Belgians. What I am worried about is how long will this horse likely be still usable? Do the heavier drafts break down sooner and deal with arthritis sooner than a light horse? This guy has done it all and seen it all! Unicorn hitch, 6 horse hitch, cart classes, etc. He's been to tons of fairs and shows and everything in between! Which of course means he was shod in scotch bottoms a lot (hard on the joints I am sure). For the last few years they used him "as an anchor" to help train other horses to drive. However, he has done nothing for the last year but stand in a field.
I am just worried that I will be getting a horse that may only have a year or so left of being usable before he starts having health problems. Is this a legitimate concern? I know with light horses 12 or 13 is a really nice age to get a well broke horse! But a friend of mine who has clydes has nothing older than 11 on her farm.
Thoughts? Opinions? Any comments on the normal usable age for these big guys?