Friday 28 August 2015

Brabant Horses

A little history, some name dropping and some types.
All gross generalizations, but does give an idea about these horses.

The draft horses that is primarily found in both Belgium and the Netherlands is called a Belgian draft horse. If you live in the Netherlands they are called Dutch Draft Horses ( Nederlands Trekpaard).
The Belgiun horses generally found in the US and Canada are most often sorrel with a flaxen mane, these are generally called Belgian horses, but back home they are called Flemish Horses ( Vlaams paard)
The smaller stockier frame horses ( around 15hh) are often called the Ardenner or Brabant.
The Ardennes is a region of Belgium and Brabant is a province in the Netherlands.
All the variations are generally regarded as sub categories of the overall Dutch/Belgian draft horse.
The Flemish horses are generally speaking bigger hitch horses, where the smaller types are more often the work horses, found logging and pulling farm implements. The taller, heavier types were often used to pull cargo in the barges from the harbors inland.
Breeding between types is acceptable , and all can be registered as a Belgium Draft horse.
Confused yet?

All these horses are Belgians.
Sugar is a typical sorrel/blond Belgian:

Carmen is an Ardenne Type:

Missie is a Brabant Type and often roan colored:

Anyway to make life simple,
these Brabant horses are the smaller type draft horses with a super calm temperament.

We started out with a black pair of Ardennes type back in the Netherlands. Our team once walked from Antwerpen in Belgium to Amsterdam in a parade pulling beer wagons for PALM beer.
Our horses were used to pull wagons, logging and some field work.
Eric did some riding on the one mare we owned.
When we moved we sold Carmen.

After, 7 years here in Canada, Eric decided it was time to get another Brabant/Ardenne type draft horse.

After some looking around, we bought a Flemish type sorrel mare called Sugar.
A couple of months later Eric got an opportunity to buy a bay roan mare called Missie,
and was allowed to lease a stud called Expo.

Our trip to Missouri was to collect Missie and Expo.
While down in the states we got to see more of these drafts and of course had an opportunity to visit with some breeders  of these horses.

With the acquisition of Missie and Sugar, we hope to have a start in getting back into the Dutch draft horses.

So, here are some more pictures of some of the horses we saw while in Missouri.

Rusty's Horses:

David's horses

Stud "Big John"

The little black is a teaser stud pony


Missie and Maddie


Expo meeting Sugar

Missie in Alberta
This is the stud we leased "Expo"


Missie and her mom, on the left.

Some Brabant babies from the stud Expo.

Expo and Rusty
Visiting David and his herd.




Well, I hope you have enjoyed this photographic tour of the horses we saw!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

An uneventful trip

When it comes to road trips, uneventful is always good.
Eric had bought a Brabant Draft mare down in Missouri, US and leased a Brabant stallion,
so we needed to make a road trip to go and collect these two horses.

Missie and her mom, peas in a pod.

From our neck in the woods to the rolling grass fields of Missouri, is a road trip of about  3000 km one way.
We planned a week long roadie to get up and down.
So, paper work was completed, vet checks done, phone calls to border services, truck washed and repaired, trailer cleaned and we were all set to go.

Roy and Jess would be looking after the critters at home, so we could leave, knowing all was in good hands.

On the way down, we would be delivering one of the puppies we have, to Manitoba.
Our route would be head south east through Alberta, head south all across Saskatchewan, go part ways through Manitoba before heading due south through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and into northern Missouri.

The route back was a little different was we needed to avoid certain States due to a horse disease.
So, the route back was Missouri, Minnesota, Norther Dakota and across Montana before heading into Alberta and then going north back home.

The first day we did close to 1300 km before finding a motel for the night, puppy Beau did great and forced us to take small breaks along the way.

Beau spent the night in the motel room.  What a super pup, calm, relaxed and did not whine once through the night despite being away from his litter mates. He did not even attempt to pee in the motel room. After watching some TV, he fell asleep in the bathroom and slept all night.
We wanted an early start the next morning.
That plan got delayed  as Eric locked the keys in the truck.
So, waiting around until someone could come and unlock the truck caused a slight hiccup in our travel plans.
$120 later, we were on the road again.

At about lunch time we pulled into  a truck stop to meet with Barb, Minka and Leo, visit for a while and say good bye to our sweet pup Beau.
It was great after all these years to finally meet Barb and Leo!

Minka has grown into a lovely girl; regal, elegant and wise.

Beau was a touch disappointing to Leo, as he did not immediately devour the deer sausage!

After about an hour, Eric started fidgeting, and we needed to get on the road again.
We said our good byes and crossed over into the US.

North Dakota is fertile farm land. We saw miles and miles of soy beans and corn.

South Dakota had miles and miles of Soy beans and corn, very neat and clean.
We spent the night in Hankinson City, a sleepy, pretty place. The most action could be found around the ice cream store.

On we went the next day and crossed into Iowa, more corn and soy beans and it seemed also a bit more industrial than the Dakotas.

We drove steadily and got to Missouri in the afternoon. 

We followed a map until we came to an intersection, at this intersection we were going to call the owners of the horses for further directions.
Before, we could call we spotted a pasture with a number of Brabant horses,
 so we figured we were in the right place.

Rusty Ridge was our destination.
We met with Rusty and Phyllis, looked at horses, admired the colts, talked harness and all things draft horses.

After meeting Missie and Expo,  and a few others,
we headed over to David Mires, another Brabant breeder, to admire his herd of drafts and mule babies.


He has a big herd of Belgian and Brabant horses. His breeding policy is to breed maiden mares first to a jack, to produce a mule colt as its first baby.

So, not only did he have Brabant/Belgian colts but also a bunch of awesome mule colts.
In all honesty,
nothing is cuter than a mule baby!

David has a big herd, great horses and a super stud.
We saw some good ideas and admired the animals.

After visiting with David we headed over to a sports bar and had a great meal.
By this time, Eric and I were ready for a sleep.
The next day was a "rest day" as we had to wait for the papers of the horses to come in through Fed Ex, so Rusty was so kind to drive us around. He took us shopping for some supplies,
 and took us to a few Amish harness shops.
We saw some Amish kids cutting grass and raking hay with their horse teams.

Rusty patiently answered all our questions about US history, Missouri and anything else that came up during the day.
Another great meal and time to sleep, as we could head off early the next morning.

The horses were loaded and the trek to the far north would start again.
The goal was 1200km per day, the road home would take longer due to the detour around some of the States.
We drove through Iowa

 and then towards Minneapolis, MN.

The weather turned wicked and we had big winds, pouring rain ( where you had zero visibility) and of course a tornado warning.
We saw numerous vehicles in the ditch.
I had a minor panic attack and told Eric we should pull over, Eric decided we needed to get out of the storm by driving through it.
He was right and pretty soon we were out of the worst part of the storm,

After 14 hours we decided to pull into a motel.
We looked at the place and changed our minds,
 and treated ourselves to a really nice Hotel instead.

Another early start, we crossed North Dakota. 

New Salem and the big cow

Blinded by sunflowers


Some maintenance on the way.

We headed into Montana .
We took a break at the Badlands ( Theodore Roosevelt Park) to admire the beauty and ruggedness of this area. 

Montana was not what we expected. 

Somehow, we thought Montana was just about the mountains, and trees. Instead we saw miles and miles,
 and more miles, of treeless steppes.
A vast, arid and somewhat forlorn landscape.
For a forest dweller, like myself, this landscape felt somewhat "God forsaken", however the longer we drove through it, the more I could see how such a landscape would grow on you.
I could appreciate the beauty of these plains,
the vast  emptiness is enchanting in its own way.

We spent the night in another nice hotel after walking the horses, feeding and watering them at the Shelby Fair Grounds.
The next day was crossing into Alberta at Sweetgrass and then heading home.
We had hoped to be able to push through and get home this day.
However, the border crossing and verification of the papers took longer than anticipated and we only got away after lunch.
We drove to friends in Bowden, and spent the night there.
The horses were unloaded and spent the night on solid ground.
After a nice visit, a few beers, and a good snooze, we left for home.
The trees beckoning us.

After 6540 km ( 4064 miles), the horses  were home in Alberta.

As, we pulled into the driveway,
Eric started talking about the next time we go down for horses...

 PS: More pictures of all the horses in the next blog!

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