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Friesians And Gypsy Cobs - Draft Horses

Friesian draft breed is rooted in Friesland, Northwestern Europe, which is now a part of the Netherlands. The original stock was descended from the order of Equus robustus (the big horse). In the 16th and 17th centuries, Andalusian lineage was introduced to the bloodline in the form of Spanish stallions which were abandoned on the battlefield during the war between the Spanish and the Dutch. This new blood endowed the Friesian line with higher knee action, smaller heads, and arching necks.

Description and Characteristics

The Friesian is one of the smaller draft horses, in stature and weight. In order for Friesians to be deemed purebred, and allowed to be used for breeding stock for a purebred line, they must be at least 14. 3 hands (57. 2 in. , or 145. 3 cm. ) at the shoulder. And the subject must be solid black with no white markings on the legs or body. The typical height is 15. 3 to 16. 1 hands (155. 4 to 163. 6 cm. , or 61. 2 to 64. 4 in. ). The Friesian is heavily boned, and the adult averages about 1300 pounds (92. 3 stones). This breed appears to be short and stocky. The thick manes and tails, and abundant fetlock hair are traditionally allowed to remain full and natural. The Friesian has a good temperament and is sensible but lively. The breed can be used for pulling, or for saddle riding. And while Friesians have the normal gaits - walk, trot, and canter - long tradition has emphasized the "big" trot which is typical of the breed.

Gypsy Cob - This small draft horse traces its roots to the Romanys, who had no need for the larger drafts. For almost 100 years the Romany people, or Gypsies, have bred the cob to pull their traditional carts and "mobile homes" throughout the country lanes of Ireland and England. And although many of the "Travelers" - as the ones who move about the country are called - have changed to more modern conveyances, there are still those who cling to the traditional mode of travel.

Even though many people of the Romany heritage no longer travel, they continue to breed these colorful horses as a way of keeping tradition alive. As long ago the modern Gypsy's wealth is still, in a large part, measured by the size and quality of his horse herd.

Description and Conformation

The Gypsy Cob has no one specific color. The most common are pinto patterned, piebald, and skewbald. They are small, in that they traditionally stand 13 to 15. 2 hands (52 to 60. 8 in. , or 132 to 154 cm. ) at the shoulder. They are compact, yet sturdy and durable. Their stamina allows them to pull a loaded "living wagon", at a steady trot, all day long.

In order to be classified as a traditional Gypsy horse, they must have an abundance of hair and feathering. The feathering starts at the knee and grows all over the bottom half of the leg to the hoof.

The Gypsy Cob has been bred for a particular type for years, but can trace their ancestral roots back to Clydesdales, Shires, Friesians, and Irish Drafts as well a Connemara, Dales, and Fell ponies. This horse is typically known to be very sound and sane, a faithful companion, and to possess incredible versatility.


Buying Your First Horse - A Practical Guide

Spring is here, and the warmer weather is on the way. As the grass starts to grow, the sun appears and nothing seems so attractive as meandering down those country lanes or cantering up the bridle paths on your own horse.

If you have only ever ridden at a riding school before, buying your first horse will be a real experience for you - and one you shouldn't go without doing some careful thinking and planning first. A horse should be your trusted companion for some time - you owe it to him to make sure you pick the right one for you. There is nothing worse for a horse than to be sold on time and time again because he was bought by the wrong person.

The person selling your ideal horse will be keen to make sure you are right for him and may even seem reluctant to part with him - if you ever feel you are being pressured into making a decision it is probably not the right horse to buy!

This article tries to give the first time buyer some tips.

Where should I look for my perfect horse?

Horses are advertised in magazines, both local and national, and in many local outlets such as notice boards in livery yards and tack shops.

Horse and Hound is a very popular source, and has a large number of horses for sale. However you do need to be quick off the mark - if you wait a couple of days you will find the best ones have been sold. Horse and Hound do carry their adverts on their internet site, and there are also many other sites offering horses for sale.

For a first horse or pony word of mouth is always a good option - your local riding school or livery yard may know of ponies or horses in the locality which may suit you and which are going to be sold, however this may not be the quickest option.

Be prepared for it to take some time to find your right partner.

Before you start looking at the adverts and especially before you go to see that first horse, be absolutely clear in your own mind:

- What is an honest assessment of your riding ability?
- What do you want to do with your horse?
- What is your budget?

When you start going out to see horses bear in mind that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince! Finding your ideal partner for the next few years will take time and cannot be rushed. Make sure you are totally honest and keep the answers to the questions in your mind - many a person has been led astray by falling in love with a totally unsuitable mount. Remember, it is not fair on either you or the horse if you end up with an animal you cannot control or if you want to jump and the horse has a total aversion to it!

And remember, keeping a horse is an expensive business - there is no point overstretching yourself to buy him if you are going to need to buy tack as well.

Keep a clear head - and let it rule your heart!

When I go to see a horse, what should I look for?

Make sure you see the horse in the stable - don't rely on any statement that he has 'perfect stable manners', ask to see for yourself. Ideally watch him being tacked up - does he stand quietly? Horses which behave well when being ridden sometimes try to kick or bite in the stable, when being tacked up, having rugs put on or off or just when you go to fill a hay net. A horse which is difficult in the stable will make your life difficult as the owner, and if you are going to keep your horse at livery will not make you popular!

Look carefully at the horse for any signs of sweat marks. Some sellers lunge or vigorously exercise their horses just before a prospective owner turns up at the yard making them seem a much quieter ride than they really are. You can also ask about the level of exercise he has been used to - if he is used to being exercised more than you will have time for you may find you have a more excitable horse on your hands than you really want.

I have never bought a horse before - what should I do when I try it out?

If you have only had lessons before you may find yourself at a loss without an instructor standing in the middle telling you what to do. It is therefore best to decide before you go a short routine you will use that will test the horse you are trying, and allow you to assess whether it is the one for you or not.

A routine might be, walk round the menage, halting at least once to make the horse is listening to you. Walk a 20 metre circle, watching out for the horse leaning in or out. Does he listen to your corrections? Change rein and repeat the walk exercises. Try to assess whether he bends easier on one rein or the other - not necessarily a fault as horses do tend to have a stronger rein, but it is more important that he is attentive to you!

Now put the horse into trot - watching for whether he goes forward eagerly or is reluctant. Use little leg at first - if you have been used to riding school horses they may have become 'dead to the leg'. You can always increase the leg aid, but it is preferable to do this than having the horse shoot off with you! As in walk work a circle on both reins. Does he drop out of trot as he bends? Does he try to go forward into canter? Would you be happy with this behaviour? If he is very strong, be prepared for him to be even stronger when you get him home - an energetic horse may well have been lunged before you came to see him and may be even fresher on other days!

If you are happy with the trot try a canter on each rein. He should make the upward transition smoothly when you ask him to do so.

If you want a jumping horse make sure you try him over a fence. Is he eager or does he need a lot of encouragement?

Try to decide before you visit the horse exactly what you are looking for, and what you are prepared to work with. And try to keep sensible. There is no point falling in love at first sight with a beautiful animal you cannot control - or one which is reluctant to jump when that is your reason for buying!

This is a partnership which you will have for some time - your partner should be chosen very carefully to make sure he is compatible with your level of riding, and what you want to do. Common sense should rule here - not your heart!

When I go to see a horse, should I see him ridden first?

Yes, of course! If the owner says there is no one available to ride him be very wary. It may be that he is too difficult for anyone there to ride. Only attempt this is you are a very experienced rider - otherwise be prepared to walk away, or at the very least try and arrange to come back when you can see him ridden.

The current owner should ride a routine similar to the one described above to enable you to assess the horse's way of going, and how he responds. If he makes upwards transitions easily for someone else, but not for you, this could be something that can be addressed with some lessons. However, be aware - there is a saying that a horse's ability sinks to match those of its rider. Just because the horse you have fallen in love with makes flying changes on demand for its current owner, it may not make them for you if you cannot ride at that level! Your new perfectly schooled dressage horse cannot be depended on to teach

And finally

It may take a few months to find the right horse, but be assured that the wait will be worth it. One thing is probably certain - that palomino mare you had pictured yourself riding away on into the sunset may well turn out to be a bay gelding! But whatever size, colour or sex you end up with, if you have taken your time choosing you will have a wonderful partnership.


Is A Steel Building Safe To Use As A Horse Barn?

More and more people are using steel buildings for many different reasons. First of all, steel buildings are very versatile because they are used as sport arenas, garages, and even homes. They are quick to build, which is great for companies needing steel buildings because of the rapid changes they undergo. There's also no more having to wait months on end for a new building to be built for incredibly large amounts of money. Steel buildings are affordable as well.

But what about the people wishing to use a steel building as a horse barn? Is it safe?

Well, let's put it this way: If a steel building can be made into a home in which people live, then there is no reason why a steel building cannot be used to house horses. That is rather amazing for a building material that was considered to be unusual just a century ago. Steel wasn't mass produced until 1855 and it still took time for the versatility and the benefits to be recognized.

The physical and the chemical characteristics of steel make it ideal for building. Simply look at its chemical composition. It has a certain percentage of carbon in it, but is mostly made up of iron. The iron itself will slide past each other if cut into sheets, which makes it very soft. When the carbon is added in, the metal becomes considerably stronger. That's what gives us steel and gives the steel manufacturers the ability to make various types of steel, which makes such structures as steel barns possible.

You want the main frame of the barn to be very strong, so that is, of course, going to require a harder type of steel. For other parts of the building, the steel doesn't need to be as hard, so there is more iron and less carbon to make the steel softer and more flexible where it needs to be.

As for horse barns, horse owners are using steel buildings because they are low maintenance and bug infestation is not an issue. That means no carpenter bees and no termites eating away at wood. Steel also cannot develop mold, mildew, or any other type of fungi that may decide it likes to grow in a horse barn. It can certainly try, but nothing is going to happen if the barn is made of steel. A steel horse barn means more attention is paid to the animals and less attention is paid to the upkeep of the barn. Other things to take into consideration when using a steel barn is that there is a low risk of it becoming infested with parasites that can make the horses ill. We've also seen the horror stories where hay or straw has caught fire and the horses have no way of getting out of the barn because the entire structure is ablaze. The good news is that the risk of such a fire is reduced significantly since steel is not combustible. Even if fire would break out, there is a good chance the roof and the walls would not collapse since steel can endure incredibly high temperatures.

This makes the only concern being what size of steel building is needed. Of course that is going to depend on how many horses you have or how many you hope to have if you're just starting out. But what is great is that steel buildings are safe to use as horse barns and in many ways keeps your horses safer than if they were in a barn made of wood or another type of building material.


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