By Amy Kathleen Miller
I have a painting depicting draft horses pulling a wagon with a man and a woman in it. There are two dogs in the painting and many trees and fencing. I enjoyed painting this, because it gave me an emotional escape back to the days when people lived more simply. They didn’t have the technology that we do today. The two dogs in the painting represent their need for dogs as workers. Dogs had many roles, including helping the ranchers keep their livestock together right down to protecting the family. The border collie is such a dog for this job. My parents used to own such a dog. Her name was Bulliver. She was a great dog for the family.
Draft horses are large horses whose ancestry comes from the forest horse, now extinct. They came from European descent and are now part of the big Shire down to the smallest Shetland pony. Humans domesticated horses to perform a variety of different duties, including hauling heavy loads, plowing fields, and other heavy tasks that require the big horse’s pulling power. Draft horses are big, heavy, calm, patient, well-muscled animals that were desired for work.
In the 19th century, horses that weighed more than 1,600 pounds and moved quickly were in demand for farming, hauling freight, and moving passengers — especially before the railroads came along. In the 20th century, draft horses were used for practical work, and for war. Half a million of these horses were used in World War I. The draft horse was well in demand at this time.
They were also used as transportation for the family wagon in the early 19th and 20th centuries. The stories of the Great Oregon trail had many settlers traveling with their wagons across God’s creation to set up their homesteads in the West in the fine state of Oregon. This endeavor might not have been as successful if it weren’t for the use of draft horses.
Today, these horses are used more to show. Owners primp their horses and make the wagons look really sharp. I am used to the smaller, more common riding horses, and when I stand beside these draft horses, I am glad that one does not step on my foot. Ouch! My cousin owns many drafts horses. He loves the shire horse, which are the largest of the draft horses. They are huge. He shows them and has even made several trips to England to buy them. His horses are a big part of his life.
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- New draft horse team arrives as Darthia Farm rebuilds from devastating fire (bangordailynews.com)
- Bishop couple opened farm for youth to view Clydesdales (onlineathens.com)
- Deal falls through, leaving Louisville draft horse’s owner looking for greener pastures (denverpost.com)
- Vets think donkey minding draft horses did pasture heroics during fire (denverpost.com)
- lots of young farmers working with drafts (thegreenhorns.wordpress.com)
- HorseFest 2012: Discover the magical beauty of horses (lakevisit.com)