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The Book of Draft Horses

As the name implies, "draft horses" are renowned for their size, strength and proficiency as beasts of burden - pulling wagons, plowing fields, hauling cargo. But the ancestors of today's Clydesdales, Percherons, Belgians were the expensive possessions of medieval royalty. They were more likely to be found in festivals and battles ridden by knights in armor than working on a farm.

It wasn't until the 1800s that the draught horse or dray horse found its calling in the fields, and the career was short-lived. The advent of trucks and tractors driven by internal compustion engines brought an end to the age of horsepower. 

As freelance writer Donna Campbell Smith illustrates in this book,  the advent of the engine didn't mean an end to the heavy horse. They are still being used in many parts of the country for hauling and plowing, as well as for pleasure driving and county fair pulling contests.


"A resurgence of interest in the draft horse occurred in the 1970s, maybe as a result of gas shortages and high prices at the pump. Small farmers turned back to the original horsepower. Registration of new foals climbed.

Draft horses today are showing up on small farms, in the logging industry, in the show ring and pulling competitions, and in the back yard as pleasure horses."

A celebratory overview of draft horses as well as a practical handbook, Smith's book covers the history and breeds of draft horses followed by separate chapters on buying, caring for, showing, working and breeding the animals.

Smith's book covers the history and breeds of draft horses followed by separate chapters on buying, caring for, showing, working and breeding the animals.







The Book of Draft Horses
The Book of Draft Horses
The Gentle Giants That Built the World
by Donna Campbell Smith

Lyons Press, 2007

Hoof Care

Cracked and chipped hooves are a common problem if the draft horse's environment is too dry. If the frog is dry, it loses its elasticity and ability to aborb shock when the hoof hits the ground. This can lead to lameness. An old time remedy, axle grease or burnt cyclinder oil, applied to the hoof, will actually seal out moisture and cause the hoof to be even drier. A better approach is to try to wet the ground around the water trough by letting water run over when filling it. The hoof will absorb some of that moisture while the horse stands to drink. Packing the hoof with wet clay will keep the bottom of the hoof moist. Moisturing hoof ointments are available. Do not cover the whole hoof, but apply only to the live tissue at the cornet band.


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