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Draft Crosses.....Any thing I should know?

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  • Draft Crosses.....Any thing I should know?

    Recently aquired a (teenage) Clyde/Thoroughbred cross. Wonderful animal. BIG boy...

    I, however, have experience only with hot breeds, and the occasional warmblood (but the ones I like are just big boned Thoroughbreds anyway).

    I am wondering if there is anything I need to be aware of?
    Breed specific health issues?
    Joint Issues?
    Feed issues?

    He is currently eating a senior feed, can I feed him the 32%balance rationer that I feed all of my Thoroughbreds? Purina makes a 12%...but the hay they get in bulk is kinda crappy.
    "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18

  • #2
    Most everything for a draft, just costs more. Shoes are more expensive, along with all their clothing!

    If he is a teenager, probably has fewer physical issues, which sometimes develop with the big horses. A friend had one who coliced constantly, despite very good care. He was "high strung" in reaction to new things, stressed himself mentally, then would colic. Just was that horse, though I have heard of other drafts being like him.

    Not sure if you got a PPE, but any leg or foot X-rays should be kept as the benchmark, so you can compare back to them if issues develop. Lots of drafts with sidebones as they age, other issues. Doesn't stop you using them, but something to be dealt with. Drafts are ridden, but the body structure is made for going slow, pulling plows, big loads at a WALK. Even adding in TB, their body type may still be quite drafty, with straighter shoulders, big impact on the hooves in landing, so the "structure" of the skeleton does not hold up with hard galloping, jumping uses like smaller horses.

    And with a cross, you could have any combination of good and bad from both breeds. When they started breeding Thorcherons by us, 3 of the 4 produced were trash, throw aways. Had TB feet and legs on a Percheron body, so they broke down young. Perch hooves and legs on a TINY LITTLE BODY, and never did grow to match up. Couldn't trot or gallop either, no coordination! Young animals looked WONDERFUL at 2 or 3, but were just HULKS at 4 or 5, could NOT collect or gallop or jump. Plain UGLYYY! Just a poor breeding idea. But every year or two, she would get ONE animal who was pretty good, stayed good into maturity. Forget about tossing the other 15-20 garbage animals that looked like a committee designed them, they ended up at the horse auction for meat.

    I knew one INCREDIBLE Saddlebred x Clyde cross, but he LOOKED like a small Clyde in color and markings. He sure rode better than he looked, great temperment, jumped like a bird, and stayed sound for many years. He was raised a pet, best buddy of a girl who put all her time and effort into him for her own self. Someone saw her riding him along the road, offered her BIG money back then. She decided she had to sell him, the money paid for her WHOLE college education as a Dr. She cried for a long time over that, but sometimes you have to act like an adult! She went and visited horse several times over the years.

    She let me ride him in his only horse show for her, we got the blue in a jumping class. He was as soft and easy to ride as a rocking chair, no pounding hooves, very steerable, even when the Judge got in our way! Went around Judge, finished the course. Made her cry, him winning blue, but she was too nervous to ride herself. Sure changed my mind on judging animal by his looks! I understand he showed quite well for his new owners, won quite a bit of money for them.

    I know the Clydes have great feathers, but if you have wet ground, thick pasture, might be easier to keep the legs clipped real short so they dry quicker in wet conditions. Wet, white skin, heavy wet hair, leads to greasy heel, other skin issues on those type horses. Skin that can dry quickly, has lots less in problems for you.

    With the draft cross, most large ones are less reactive, accepting of odd and strange things your TB would object to. A huge part of their appeal to people is quieter attitude.

    Hope your enjoy your new horse a lot.


    • #3
      There are many threads on here about EPSM/PSSM, which drafts are somewhat prone to. If your guy is a teenager and hasn't had any muscle development problems, you're probably in the clear, but it would be wise to stick to a lower starch/sugar feed strategy and possibly some fat supplementation, stay away from grains. Check out ruralheritage.com if you want more info and aren't already aware of this issue.

      They really ARE nice horses, if you have a good one. Enjoy!!
      "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

      Spay and neuter. Please.


      • #4
        I have three and LOVE them all...so dependable, yet athletic.

        I second monstrpony...stay away from the sugars/starches. They are usually very easy keepers...my 5-year-old, who is still growing, only gets 2 lbs of Blue Seal Carb Guard a day, plus Nutraflax for Omega-3s and all the hay he'll eat. My other two (ages 8 and 12) get 1/2 lb a day and even less when the grass comes in.

        I don't pay any more for farrier work for them than I do for my other horses. And they all wear Rambos, the original line without the leg arches, just in the larger sizes (84"/87").

        Congrats and enjoy
        JB-Infinity Farm


        • #5
          I have three Clydesdales (will be 4 in April, I hope, when my mare is due). You need to go for the "high fat, low carb" diet and you will need to be wary of scratches, which Clydes are more prone to than other breeds. Other issues will depend on the individual animal, since it is a cross. Although few people will jump Clydes, I personally saw a TB/Clyde cross compete in win in Grand Prix jumping.


          • #6
            Nothing much to add other than to tell you that you'll adore him and will never go back to the high octane guys! My days of dealing with TB's are OVER. I am so tickled with Elliot (Belgian x TB) that I snapped up his baby bro as soon as he hit the ground! Find a good leather repair guy. I had to have some of my oversize and warmblood sized tack reworked to make it fit Elliot! (specifically nosebands)


            • #7
              Definately watch the sugar and starches. My cross only eats beet pulp, a multivitamin and cocosoya oil. Best resource for diet is Dr. Beth Valentine. They can also be prone to ringbone and sidebone.


              • #8
                Waldo, the love of my life, is a semi-retired clyde/TB cross and simply the best horse ever. He doesn't need any special consideration, necessarily. Now that he is getting older his breathing has gone downhill so he is going on Prednisolone all the time. 3 years ago he fractured his coffin bone because of his excessive knee action and hard ground, so if you plan to do some heavy jumping or galloping I strongly suggest Shock Tamers. Other than that be fully prepared to have horses with a great sense of humor and that you will love forever!
                It's psychosomatic. You need a lobotomy. I'll get a saw.


                • #9
                  I like 'em!

                  Mine are easy keepers in all ways. I feed enough soaked beet pulp and alfalfa pellets to mix vitamins, lysine, flax and yeast into. Don't know the dry weight but I give a 2-cup measure of the soaked mix. Plus local grass hay.

                  One of mine had what I thought were EPSM symptoms so I kept her on that diet for about a year. Over the summer she went to hay only and no symptoms recurred so I am just playing it by ear. I think she was slow to mature and clumsy. (Shhhhhh... she's not a star athlete even now but a cute and capable trail horse which is what I want her to be!)

                  Other than the EPSM risk and that they are usually (not always) easy keepers, there aren't any other hard'n'fast rules. The different draft breeds have different levels of energy/hotness/athleticism, as do the things that they are crossed with, of course. My trail horse gal is Paint/Percheron. My other draft cross is... we have no idea, but she is as nimble as my other is clumsy, and as hot as my other is placid.
                  Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                  • #10
                    They tend to have very sweet personalities, love attention, be easy keepers, and make solid dependable mounts.

                    On the negative side. some inherit legs with too little bone for their body size, such poorly conformed horses may be prone to arthritis and injury.

                    Nothing is worse then a draft cross with a flighty TB mind, they can be difficult to ride, and prone to injury.

                    For anyone thinking of getting a draft cross, always take a close look at the hoofs and the legs... If the horse looks like a sausage with tooth picks legs, or has little feet, it's probably a good idea to keep looking.

                    A well bred draft cross will be evenly proportioned for it's size.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by draftgirl01 View Post
                      Definately watch the sugar and starches. My cross only eats beet pulp, a multivitamin and cocosoya oil. Best resource for diet is Dr. Beth Valentine. They can also be prone to ringbone and sidebone.
                      We feed the same but also add rice bran and the working horses when in heavy work get whole rolled oats and barley depending on work load. Also important to use electrolytes when working and sweating - because they sweat alot.

                      Also, our working horses are also stretched after each workout - it is important for draft crosses because they have more slow twitch muscles and it really helps with their flexibility.

                      I do not pay more for blankets, bits, or shoeing except for one horse that needs eventing shoes from europe because they don't make large enough ones for her here (size 7).

                      here are some pics of our draft crosses.

                      www.hotelfun4kids.com/horses.htm - also see the video link at the bottom.


                      • #12
                        I have a belgian/ t'bred cross who is turning 17 this year. I bought him as a 3 year old. He is a hulk of a horse but well proportioned. I've used him mainly for foxhunting at which he excelled, he did some novice level eventing probably could have done training level but I was too chicken to move up. I got my first level dressage scores on him for my bronze medal and my daughter did low level jumpers on him and he was quite competitve. He is still going strong but I mainly trail ride him and school dressage with him at home. We occasionally jump and he has been strong and sound his whole life (knocking wood) I have 3 other horses 2 of which are competing in dressage so I no longer compete Rocket and I haven't fox hunted in awhile although I'm sure he would be up for it should I want to go.

                        The hardest thing I've found about him is keeping him fit. He has to be ridden 3-4 times a week to maintain his fitness level. He is basically a giant air fern and I have to carefully watch his diet or he will pork up. He gets 2 ounces of a pelleted vitamin supplement and 1/3 cup of flax per day. I have him on Cosequin mainly as a safe guard against joint problems (hey, it might work)

                        He is such a love and I wouldn't trade him for anything. Here is a pic of him in the hunt field.
                        Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.


                        • #13
                          I have a Perch/tb.

                          Be prepared to "wait" a bit after you give an aid..... as in , "oh, we should canter now? OK". You can get him hotter on the aids, but remember is is not a hotblood.

                          I love my horse.

                          In my "very" limited experience, they ahve good memories for both bad and good things.... it has taken over a year to get him to trust and be confident in me. We suspect very confident riders in the recent past, and before that.... maybe a driving crash? Who knows.

                          He is SO sweet, tho...

                          I predict you will ove yours, too!



                          • #14
                            Invest in sturdy fence...with hot wire. lol

                            I love my draft cross. He's 8 years old, Perch/Tb/Paint, has a nice solid body, with sturdy legs & huge bare feet. HE's a big bodied horse, but not drafty. He moves like a light horse and is pretty responsive. He's brave, sweet, willing and extremely accepting of new things. I've had him since he was a weanling, and I would get another in a heartbeat.
                            "We're still right, they're still wrong" James Carville


                            • Original Poster

                              I do adore him, already.

                              He does have Clyde legs and feet (5) but is more "sporty" through his neck and shoulder-moving back into a big barrel and a huge butt.

                              Should I start him on a joint supplement now as a preventative?

                              Would I be safe moving him over to Enrich 32-from his senior feed?

                              Where do I get a Shock Tamer that size?
                              "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18


                              • #16
                                I have a lovely 1997 model Clyde/appendix cross who is a very good boy. He's pretty drafty but is incredibly light on his feet for his size. He's not a self-motivator but if you convince him that you're serious, he's happy to work for you. He's turned into a cute dressage pony and a dependable and willing lower level eventing partner. He could probably jump up to Training but as others have mentioned, maintaining fitness is a constant concern with him and with all his size, I don't want to gallop him into the ground. I just don't think he'd hold up.

                                I'll echo a lot of what others have said... He's an air fern so we have him on a low carb/high fat diet. I pulled a blood panel on him last fall to test him for EPSM, just in case, and he tested negative. Just something to keep an eye on.

                                Aside from extra paste wormer and $15 extra for his size 5 shoes, I don't find that I spend any more money on him than I would a "normal-sized" horse. His tack, equipment and whatnot all costs the same as it would if I had a smaller horse. He wears an 86/87 blanket, and not all manufacturers make those, but they can be found.

                                Sometimes hauling can be an issue so you probably don't want a slant-load for your horse and you'll want to be sure that whatever you haul him in has some extra height and/or width depending on your guy's size.

                                I know no horse is perfect but I love my guy to pieces. I hope you enjoy yours as well. Good luck!
                                Last edited by AEM74; Mar. 5, 2010, 02:17 PM.
                                "If ever I did not have a horse or dog in my keeping, I should feel I had lost touch with the earth." ~Beryl Markham


                                • #17
                                  Great horses...I've written before about my fjordX, he's a tank of a guy at 15.2+ and guessing 1400#. Super versatile guy, hotter "inside" than you think, but so willing.

                                  My 23 yr old daughter's old qh is 29 and not up to doing heavy riding anymore. We found a perchie/paint cross. Adorable horse. Dad was an english import perch, just under 16 hands and built to the max. Our guy is 16 - 16.1, haven't sticked him yet. He'll be 6 in may. Still almost black but will be a dark dapple like his dad.

                                  Their temperments are phenomenal, and personalities a hoot. The perchieX is just now coming out of his shell. We just got him the end of Sept.

                                  The only draftx I've known that wasn't great was a perch/mustangx. He was dangerous under saddle, had gone from auction to auction. Super thin when he was purchased and seemed to be going well under saddle after gaininig a little weight. My friend bought him from a teenager that "rescued" him. He was a doll on the ground, but dumped her one day, and she couldn't remember what happened. The dressage trainer got on him in an arena he'd been in a dozen times. He started to get balky, she just put her leg on and he literally turned into a bronc. Needless to say, he went somewhere else but his owner never said where...but not to another auction. He would have made a great combined driving horse.

                                  That is the only draftie I have ever seen or heard of being dangerous like that. Most are pocket ponies on the ground and under saddle.



                                  • #18
                                    I've only been around draft-x's - usually the PMU variety. Nice, sensible horses, but they do need to be trained to be light and move out of your space, trained not to yank for grass with their big thick necks and not ever invade your space in a box stall, trailer, etc. They seemed to be a bit thick in that department. I'd say ground manners are very important if the horse is a bit insensitive.
                                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                    • #19
                                      I inherited a 16 year old percheron/quarter horse cross with small feet in September. The feet were a cracked mess because his body is too big for them, so when the hoofs flare, they crack. He is now on a 6 week trim schedule in the winter, and will be on a 4 week trim schedule in the summer to prevent that, along with getting a hoof supplement (Biotin 800, which has 50 mg of biotin per ounce) and daily hoof oil (Fiebings), as his feet are also way too dry. This has gone a long way towards turning things around, and his feet are much healthier now.

                                      Because of his age, previous hard use and a prior leg injury, I also have him on a joint supplement, which has made a nice difference in his daily comfort level. I consider this his semi-retirement home, as we just walk on the trails, and work at a walk/trot in the ring. He rides on a french link bit in the ring, and is geting a low port kimberwicke for the trail because I don't want to be hauled off into the next county on a percheron freight train if he winds up and takes off!

                                      I would go along with Foxtrot in the manners department. When I got mine, he was bullheaded and pushy, with a reputation for being combative and non-cooperative for vets and farriers (notice the plural on that last word), sometimes needing sedation for the simplest things. I found that mine is a perfect and instant mirror of the treatment he receives, more so than any other horses I have ever owned. If you raise your voice and push back, he winds right up. If you correct quietly and consistently, he gentles down immediately. He was so used to pushing back against his previous owner that the first couple of weeks we were together it was all testing 1-2-3 with this guy. Once he figured out that the firm but gentle voice was all he was going to get in return, with a lot of 'no' and quiet correction (and a firm hold on the lead line), he settled right down and has become a model of gentlemanly manners. He has now been vetted and had dental work without needing sedation, and stands for the farrier now without a problem. Everyone is happily surprised that he is so cooperative! I expect it of him, and that is that. I can always tell when he has been getting into a pushing contest with someone at the farm, because he comes into the barn brusque and pushy. So, if you find yourself pushing back and raising your voice for a few weeks, try reversing the approach and see if it works!

                                      I am having a wonderful time with my 'new' horse, and I wish the same for you! Good luck!
                                      "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                                      • #20
                                        We have two wonderful Draft or Draft Crosses. I was amazed at how fast and athletic they are. I'd expected them to be rather sluggish. Not when they feel like moving. I'm not sure that they are really less sensitive (as I've had a couple of people tell me) I think they want to decide if you "really mean" what you're saying.

                                        Because of the history of EPSM in drafts and draft crosses we moved to the low starch diet. The horses never showed any symptoms ... but this was "belt and suspenders".

                                        They are incredibly sweet. Quick if they feel like it. Extremely sensible.

                                        We've found them incredible clowns. One likes to put her leg in the water trough and pull it around. (That's a 100 gallon water trough!). It took forever to figure out that there was no way to feed her on the ground. Even with a 50 pound salt block in her feed tub, she's use her nose to flip the salt block out. We recently attached a feed tub to a tree. So far this has worked. But when Sasha scratches herself on the tree, the entire tree shakes.

                                        You'll love your new baby! CONGRATULATIONS!
                                        The other female in my husband's life has four legs