..... e currently employ both Belgians and Percherons in our carriage and sleigh ride business. We have been blessed with the most amazing horses. They have incredible personalities and their calm demeanor and work ethic is something to behold. These animals are our partners and are treated with the utmost respect and reverence. Our horses receive the best feed, care and attention possible. We endeavor to provide enough variety in their work to keep them from getting bored.
Aspen Carriage and Sleigh horses are kept barefoot, as we believe the iron shoe inhibits the natural function of the hoof. During winter they are booted to provide traction when working in town. Boots are carried on each shift year round in case the horse's hoof needs extra protection
Typically our horses are not asked to work longer than 4-5 hours each day, and each horse gets breaks during their shift. They usually receive a couple of days off each week, and get 8 weeks of vacation during spring and again during fall. Our horses have access to food and water throughout the day.
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The Belgian Breed
History shows that Belgians are direct lineal descendants of the "Great Horse" of medieval times. The Belgian, as the name implies, is native to the country of Belgium . This little country is blessed with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, providing the thrifty farmers of Belgium with the excellent pastures and the hay and grain necessary to develop a heavy, powerful breed of horse. The modern Belgian is still a great worker, and has become an excellent wagon horse. The original imports came in many color coats with a predominance of bay. Now there are few roans and even an odd bay, but for all practical purposes, it is a chestnut-sorrel breed today. In fact the Belgian is by far the most numerous of all draft breeds in this country. Today in the US the breed stands at over 16 hands tall, weighs between 1800 and 2000 pounds and has a relatively large head and short, feathered, muscular legs and large quarters. The feet are large and have minimum feather.
The Percheron Breed
Except for the recent past, the history of the Percheron breed is not exactly clear. The Percheron Horse did originate in the province of Le Perche , near Normandy , France . The ancestors of the modern day Percheron served as war horses carrying knights into battle instead of draft animals in the field. Those horses were light, sure-footed and spirited. As agricultural pursuits began to take precedence over battles, these horses were bred more for size, weight and strength. The Percheron was so popular that by 1930, the US government census showed that they were three times as many registered Percherons as the other four draft breeds combined. Following World War II, the invention of the modern farm tractor made the breed nearly extinct. As America modernized and mechanized, the Percheron was all but forgotten. However, a handful of farmers including many Amish, dedicated themselves to the preservation of the breed. The Percheron has a very pleasing disposition. He is proud, alert, intelligent and willing worker. They are usually black or grey, and range in height from 15 to 19 hands. They can weigh up to 2600 pounds with the average around 1900. Percherons have little feathering. The size of their feet are comparable to a dinner plate.