The closest draft horses to my home are the Friesians at Northfork Ranch, so that’s where I went on Wednesday with my camera, and all today's pictures are from there. About those Budweiser Clydesdales the other day, anyone confused about draft horse breeds (or, like me, suffering memory haze since days of childhood when I could rattle off every horse breed in the world) might like to look at the draft breed site and the Eastern draft horse site.
For quicker reference, here’s a cheat sheet:
Belgian – from Belgium – sorrel, roan or bay
Clydesdale – from Scotland – bay (most common), brown, black or chestnut
Shire – England – black, brown, bay, grey, chestnut
Friesian – Netherlands – always black
Percheron – France - black or grey
American Cream – United States, from Belgian stock – light cream with blond or white mane and tail
Spotted Draft – United States, a color breed (pinto) with registry established in 1995
American Cream and Spotted Draft were new ones on me. Both are color breeds, with the Cream always Belgian-derived, the Spotted Draft bred from different stock on different occasions to obtain desired pinto coloration.
I had an e-mail from Valerie Trueblood, who had also had draft horses on her mind after seeing my pictures of the Clydesdales, and she had this to say:
I love your pictures of the Clydesdales! Every year I used to go to the state Draft Horse Extravaganza, & see the farmers (and their children and eventually grandchildren) driving huge teams--Percherons, Belgians, Clydesdales, Shires. We loved them so much we subscribed to the Draft Horse Journal for years and Rick even took a weekend class in harnessing, for beginners. The "free drive," where six or eight hitches get in the arena together and show the spectacular training, precision & instinct of their teams, avoiding each other at a canter, is a wonderful thing to see.
Friesians are on the small side for draft horses (think knights going into battle in heavy armor) and can be ridden as well as driven. This is Maggie, a three-year-old and a filly close to my heart.