The Draft Horses

We’ve been dreaming of having our own draft horses for many years. We’d been looking on and off at the Internet horse sale sites and thinking about it. Well we finally got serious and actually contacted some people who were advertising a team for sale. Had we ever driven draft horses before? Did we know how to rig them up and all of that? No, but it looked like fun and it seemed like it might be useful for our place.

One Saturday last month, we set an appointment up to go to Winona, TX which is northeast of Tyler. Sure is nice out there. We went to see Sky and Sapphire, two white draft horses of the Shire breed. There are a number of different draft horse breeds. Probably the most famous are the Clydesdales because a certain beer company uses them in their advertisements. Shires look a lot like Clydesdales. Also Belgians and Percherons are other well-known draft breeds. These horses can be quite large as you can see.

Stan and Lyn Jenkins owned Sky and Sapphire and were wonderful hosts on our visit. We brought the whole family plus a few visiting cousins and invaded their place. They couldn’t have been nicer. They were so patient with us, explaining and teaching us how to handle draft horses.

They took us all for a ride down the country road where they live. They even let us take the lines and do some driving.

Here’s Diane getting some hands on training. It’s a bit intimidating trying to steer these animals. Stan was a very patient and capable instructor. These horses are so well-trained. Here we are – Novices – taking these horses out on a fairly busy road. Traffic is continually passing by. The horses just pay no mind and continue on.

Well, we were thrilled and would like to have bought them on the spot. But, we wanted to be careful and give it some thought first. So, two weeks later we decided to go ahead and buy them. We went back to Winona, took some more driving lessons, learned how to harness them and hook them up to a wagonette (we videotaped all of that so we could refer to it later). Then, wouldn’t you know it, we were draft horse owners. Stan and Lyn definitely had mixed emotions to see this team leave their farm. But they were glad to see them go to people who obviously loved them and would take good care of them.

You should have seen the rig we had to put together to haul the team back to our place. As a matter of fact, here’s a picture:

That’s about a 25 ft Dodge Dually truck followed by a 30 ft long, extra tall and wide horse trailer, followed by a 16 foot long flat bed trailer to hold the wagonette. Boy did we get some looks as we took the drive back to our place. Needless to say, we were very glad to get home with no incident.

We got them home and out to pasture with a few other horses. We happen to have an Arabian mare (white) who is a nice gentle horse that we keep in one of our pastures with another Quarterhorse mare (sorrel). They all made friends real quick. These are pretty much regular sized horses. This picture contrasts Sky and Sapphire with those two other horses and you get an idea of how large these drafts are. Quite the sight to behold.
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