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draft breed temperaments

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  • draft breed temperaments

    I'll be looking to buy draft cross as soon as my current horse sells and I wonder if any COTHers have insight to offer into the various draft temperaments. I had a clyde-appendix cross that I lost last summer and he was truly wonderful - willing, brave, honest, generous. I have heard that some draft breeds tend to be "hotter" than others, while some are more laid-back, etc. Recognizing that all horses are individuals, any insight into the Clydesdales, Belgians, Shires, Percherons, etc. that you can offer?

    Thank you.
    "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

  • #2
    I'd consider the Belgians and Percherons to be more laid-back, or at least the ones I've known have been. Shires and Clydes tend to be more "hitchy" and flashy so might be "hotter". Again, just what I've seen and my own perception.

    You may also want to visit the Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue facebook page or email them and talk about it there as they've got experience with literally hundreds of different drafts from all walks of life and might be able to give you some insight that way too.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


    • #3
      I owned a wonderful full Belgian gelding for 6 yrs. and he by far had the best work ethic of any horse breed I have ever owned. Not knocking light breeds, just this particular guy was outstanding. He was always happy, easy going, not lazy and just generally loved to please and do his job.

      OTOH, he was the devil to keep in a regular board fence and would walk through them like toothpicks until we HOT cha-cha-ed with electric wire. He stood a true 18.1 and weighed in at about 2600 lbs. Size 10 shoe. Cost a fortune to get him shod.

      Things to consider when thinking of going full draft.
      Lost in the Land of the Know It Alls


      • #4
        I have limited draft experience but I'll share it with you. I've ridden a full Belgian mare. She was definitely not hot. I just trail rode her a couple of times and she was laidback, pretty much unflappable. On the ground she wasn't what I'd call in your pocket, but she was nice enough (would take treats, let you pet her, etc.)
        *Wendy* 4.17.73 - 12.20.05


        • #5
          Have a full Clyde mare, only had for four months, 5 yrs old, she is very la-de-da under saddle, which is what I wanted. Can be silly, flapping her lips and likes you to play with her. Local farrier calls them the "clowns" of the draft world he should know has owned and shown the breed for quite a while, he feels Percherons are a little more high strung. Have a friend with a perch/tb cross who is a doll to ride but is onery otherwise. My girl has yet to do anything to my fences ( wood).
          "They spend 11 months stuggling to live, and 25 years trying to die" my farrier

          "They are dangerous on both ends and crafty in the middle"


          • #6
            Well I have had two Percherons, both very different.

            One was built like some horses I seen in the Draft Horse Journal with LA DON in their name, she was short, muscular and very well tempered. You could do anything with that mare. A very trustworthy steed.

            The second is from halter lines; tall, super tall, and horrible temperament. Kicks at people, destroys fences/stalls. Difficult to work with. Has a bag of tricks that he pulls out for everyone. Not trustworthy.

            So in short, that's my limited experience. I would place this breed in the hotter category.
            I LOVE my Chickens!


            • #7
              My grandfather who worked with lots of drafts, said percheons will trot out to the field in the morning and trot home from the field at night. I find them to have good work ethic, perhaps a bit hot.
              Just like our eyes, our hearts have a way of adjusting to the dark.--Adam Stanley


              • #8
                I have limited experience with drafts, but I imagine it all depends on the individual, like most breeds.

                We had a pair of Percherons that drove together their whole lives. They were night and day different from each other-- one was quiet to the point of being comatose, the other was all "go" and could be a handful. Luckily they complimented each other quite well.
                Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                • #9
                  You are just going to have to look at each as an individual. As with any horse.

                  I happen to have one of the nicest draft crosses on the planet. 1/2 Arabian 1/2 Percheron. Heart of gold. Quick, agile, smart, sensitive like an Arabian. Size, strength of a Percheron. Did I say HONEST? I have been around many of his siblings. Some were much more 'draft'. Not as quick and sensitive. One with a great heart but just didn't want to be an upper level dressage horse. But still a great horse.

                  Where you can get into trouble is if you have the size and strength of a draft and hot and stupid from the other half. Don't want to go there.


                  • #10
                    I've had several. Percherons vary based on their lines. One of my favorite horses ever, who I never ever should have sold, was 1/4 perch, 1/4 QH and 1/2 TB. That horse was born broke. I had a full Belgian who was the sweetest thing ever, but a little on the mentally slow side. I had a Belgian/Paint who was the most sensitive creature and very much on the flighty side with a rather athletic buck. And I have another draft who I think might be Perch/Paint or...well I'm not sure...he's lovely and sweet and quiet but a little on the spooky side.

                    They really are all individuals!


                    • #11
                      Yup; depends on the individual.

                      We've had a few Perch crosses; most were great, one was a bugger that had to be handled with care to get anything out of him.

                      I've known a number of nice Belgian crosses and sorry to say, not ONE nice Clyde cross lol I'm prejudiced against Clydes - too big to be that flighty.

                      I also rode a nice Shire cross who was quite sweet and fairly trainable.
                      \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


                      • #12
                        I'm with the "every horse is an individual" group, especially when you're comparing draft to draft, rather than, say, draft to Arab or TB.

                        We have a Clyde/TB at the barn. Dumb as a doorknob but very honest. She likes to GO at a nice clip and has a mouth like a 2x4. But you point her at the jump and go.

                        Also a full Percheron. He's dead unless you have a crop. Generally very, very honest and not at all spooky, but infrequently he does go nutty under saddle and it's difficult to bring back that much horse. 18hh is a long fall. He, too, likes to walk through fences.
                        Born under a rock and owned by beasts!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Megaladon View Post
                          Well I have had two Percherons, both very different.

                          The second is from halter lines; tall, super tall, and horrible temperament. Kicks at people, destroys fences/stalls. Difficult to work with. Has a bag of tricks that he pulls out for everyone. Not trustworthy.

                          So in short, that's my limited experience. I would place this breed in the hotter category.
                          One of my BO's had a Perch of no particulary breeding. She was evil & lazy, see above. Would lay down in harness rather than work. Best thing that ever happened was her getting hit by lightning.
                          Visit my Spoonflower shop


                          • #14
                            I like most breeds crossed with Percheron. The brains are good, the movement is good, they tend to hold up and do well in a variety of disciplines. If you are into jumping or dressage, Percheron/TB is a nice cross for that. I also like Belgian/TB crosses.

                            I have a Percheron/QH gelding. Was the lead trail horse for rides going through the Grand Tetons. Good brains, good temperament, loyal, friendly, good feet. Amps up with too much volume or energy in the room.

                            Friends have the following drafts or draft crosses:
                            Cremello colored draft mare: western trail. Yellows eyes, cream dorsal stripe on cream colored body. Goes through wood fences like matchsticks. Smart, protective of younger horses and foals. Good temperament. Rides like a Cadillac couch.

                            Percheron/Cheval Canadien--dressage: super easy keeper, nice movement, good feet, needs a push in the work ethic department, but is a really good mare.

                            Percheron/TB's--eventing. Go over anything, good minds, heat up faster under saddle but come right back down. Good movement, feet need supplements.

                            Percheron/Appaloosa--high degree of brain power here, and needed an owner who could handle it. People who didn't like a horse who could out think them didn't like the horse. Friendly, good feet. Good pleasure horse. Was nobody's fool.

                            Belgian/TB--good over fences and in dressage. Kind, willing, sturdy, good movement. Another good choice if you are looking at these disciplines.

                            Belgian/Paints--western/trail-- not the sharpest knives in the drawer, the gelding was a fabulous kids horse; the mares are pushy and need firm guidelines when handling. Both are spooky. The gelding was great. The mares were not my favorite crosses.

                            Belgian/QH--western trail. Good on trail, built like a brick outhouse. Smart, very assertive in the herd. Listens well under saddle and is a good trail horse. Very easy keeper.

                            Percherons: The older, traditional style is more laid back. The newer, more upright style bred for halter or hitch with higher action heat up faster and may not be what you are looking for.

                            Things to keep in mind: Sugar makes my Percheron bargey and cranky--the more fed, or longer the time it is fed, the worse it becomes--so what the horse is being fed may very well be reflected in his temperament. On an EPSM diet, mine is a quiet sweetheart. Also, while they have a very forgiving nature, a truly bad experience is filed away in the Never Repeat This Again category in their brains, and they will resist you with every ounce of their being, regardless of how far back in their past it occurred, and with whom. Which, with their poundage, can mean a lot of losing battles, some which can leave you truly bewildered. They truly have memories of elephants.

                            I have noticed that given several months or more, these horses tend to very accurately mirror the people who are handling them. It's pretty evident who is leading whom, and how the horses feel about them. If the owner is timid/fearful, or is a tyrant, there are going to be a lot of problems on the other end of the lead line. You have to know how to lead without being a harsh, ruthless tyrant.

                            Regardless of the breed, electric fencing will be your friend!
                            Last edited by Chief2; Jan. 16, 2013, 02:30 AM.
                            "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                            • #15
                              Don't forget that rodeos are full of draft crosses. The one's that buck really buck.


                              • #16
                                If I was looking for a draft cross I'd head towards the Perch/tb cross. There is a reason it's a popular cross. Good feet, good minds, winds of goliath and hearts of gold. Perchies tend to be solid citizens but feces & Fences tend to be an issue. My experience with drafts are of two varieties, the go through the fence type and ask questions later or the debate the fence looney under saddle.
                                Last edited by leilatigress; Jan. 31, 2013, 02:37 PM. Reason: well Manure is an issue
                                Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
                                Originally Posted by alicen:
                                What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.


                                • #17
                                  'but feces tend to be an issue'...I know that's a typo, but had me LOL! Yes, there tends to be lots of feces with a draft cross!


                                  • #18
                                    Put me down for the draft/x Fan Club. Mostly.

                                    Over the years I've had
                                    3 Perch/TB - the first one was THE BEST! I evented him, hunted him, did everything with him. 17.2 hands of honest, talent, forgivng. During multiple pregnancies, I on-farmed leased him and every single one of those ladies ended up getting back into horses full time. To me, that speaks volumes of his character. I lost half of my heart when I laid him to rest.

                                    The other two, well, I tried to reproduce that saint and they weren't having anything to do with it. One was extremely talented, but flighty. Would spook and then duck the shoulder, crack the back and start the bucking. The other had a screw loose. Scared of his own shadow.

                                    So I tried a different cross. I now have a Clyde X that I am having a blast with. He is not perfect, he has a big spook in him, but he is a trier and has a heart of gold. And jumps the moon.

                                    Like someone else said, it's not the cross, it's the horse itself.


                                    • #19
                                      As others have said, it depends on the horse.

                                      Here are a few I have known:

                                      I have a Shire/TB -- good mover, forward if you can motivate her but at all times, very forgiving and very trainable and friendly. Doesn't get upset by rubbish riding and will ignore aids until you get them right. She can be hot but 90% of the time, she's steady and sensible. I think some of that's in the training, though (as I said, very trainable). I could imagine that if she'd spent her life ridden by inexperienced or nervous riders who didn't know how to manage her on silly days and encourage good behaviour, she could have turned into a handful instead of a quiet, kind easy horse. If I could change one thing about her, it would be to make her more close-coupled. It's been a long journey to develop her ability to collect because her natural tendency is pretty much "holy strung-out batman." That is kind of a draft cross thing. Many I've met have that issue. Mine at least makes up for it in that she naturally brings her hocks well underneath herself. Many don't. They will do that draft thing of moving with their hocks out behind, which is not what you want in a dressage horse (if that's what you want to do).

                                      QH/TB/Clyde -- I got him as a 3-year old and broke him in. One of the NICEST temperaments I've ever seen in a baby. Bravest, least spooky horse I've ever met. Not as nice a mover as the above horse, but far more easy going. He was a project I bought to back and then sell on. Kind of wish I had been able to keep him. LOL.

                                      TB/Perch -- Nice mover, very fine eventer. He could be a bit of a nut. He was leased by a friend of mine. I remember one time, we had been working our horses in the arena and then we were standing around in the middle of the ring chatting, horses relaxed and on loose reins, standing with hind legs cocked, as you do. Suddenly, this horse went from chilling on a loose rein, leg cocked, to bucking across the arena. Even the other horses were looking at him like, "Dude, what's your problem?" Yeah, he was a little bit like that. My friend, who enjoyed slightly daft horses, really liked him. Better her than me.

                                      Shire/TB -- From the same breeder (but not same lines) as my horse. Owned by a disabled woman. Much chunkier than my mare. Not nearly as athletic but very kind and steady.

                                      Irish draft/something else draft -- No one really knows the breeding of this horse, other than that he's IDx and bred in Ireland. He's big and chunky. He's a sweet, kind boy, very forward moving and extremely spooky and afraid of anything new.
                                      Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.


                                      • #20
                                        I have known 3 Belgians, 2 were very hot 1 was very quiet. I knew a full Perch who was super quiet, Arab cross that was absolutely nuts. Like others said, seems to be really individual. Have fun shopping!