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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Drum Horse   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Drum Horse is a rare British draft breed, named after the task for which it was created: carrying a drummer equipped with a set of drums during the Queen's processions. It is a new breed, and, as of 2019, it is still being developed. Horses of this breed often look like pinto Shire horses.

Pinto Shire horses existed until the early half of the 20th century, when they came out of fashion, and were ineligible for breeding. Many of the pinto Shires were bought by the British and Irish Travelers, who used them for the creation of the Gypsy Vanner (see the 'Gypsy Vanner' breed for more info). Gradually, the pinto Shires disappeared, and the creation of Drum Horses represents an attempt to bring back this unique, colorful type of draft horse.

Drum Horses are created by crossing either a Shire or a Clydesdale with a Gypsy Vanner, whose height is at least 15hh and who is often pinto-colored. After a Drum Horse is born, they will usually be crossed with either a Shire, a Clydesdale, or another Drum Horse, but not with a Gypsy Vanner. That is because Drum horses must contain between 6.25% and 50% Gypsy Vanner blood, and can't cross the 50% threshold. Therefore, Drum Horses have a build which is similar to that of the Shires and Clydesdale, although lighter.

Drum Horses are mainly bred for three traits: strength, personality, and appearance. Their strength is necessary for them to carry a heavy set of drums, as well as a fully-dressed rider, for long periods of time. Their personality is also essential for their task, because they need to remain calm and not be startled by the noise of the drums or by the thousands of spectators who come to the processions. Furthermore, because the rider's hands are occupied with the drum, the reins are attached to their legs, and it is with their legs that the rider controls the massive Drum Horse. As such, Drum Horses are bred to be cooperative and easygoing. Finally, in terms of appearance, Drum Horses are bred to have a pinto coat, because it is considered more special than a solid color.

Today, in addition to serving as procession drummers' horses, Drum Horses are also used for driving and riding, including in athletic disciplines such as jumping and dressage. They have a conformation which is similar to that of Shires and Clydesdales, but they are lighter and more athletic. Drum horses usually inherit the pinto pattern of their Gypsy Vanner ancestors, but they can come in solid colors, and, very rarely, they can have a leopard pattern as well. That said, both solid and leopard coats are undesired and considered to be a fault, and therefore horses who have such coats will be penalized for it Most Drum Horses stand at 16hh or taller; shorter Drum Horses can appear from time to time, but they are not eligible for breeding or for serving as Drum Horses.


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