126 ever before in history in our country. The main reasons for this phenomenon are: horses are cheaper to buy than tractors, they are less expensive to “ feed ” , they seldom break down, they allow more precise plowing and cultivating, and most of all they much more fun to work with! He said that he can make as much from 5 acres of tobacco plowed with a horse than a neighbor can make plowing 10 acres with a tractor! So the big draft horses like Percherons, Belgians, and Suffolk Punch are being used today more than ever in the past! What we learned about mules was also very interesting. Mules are the product of breeding a horse mare with a donkey stallion (also called a burro or a jackass). The offspring are sterile and are named as follows: male mule is a jack, female mule is a jenny, a gelded male mule is a john. If a female donkey is bred to a horse stallion, the offspring is called a henny. This draft horse fan also told us that the dumbest mules are at least 3 ½ times smarter than the smartest horses! Mules are also hardier, never need to be shoed, much less temperamental than horses. So we wondered why he farms with his Percherons, but we did not ask him — we just presumed that he loved his horses. (As a side issue, we also learned that Kay ’ s grandfather used Percherons on his dairy farm.) The Parade of Breeds we went to see featured 5 breeds of horse critters: a fine Friesian which was almost extinct by the 30s in the USA but has now bounced back to about 3000 here today. This horse was used by knights of old because they are big enough to carry a man in his heavy suit of armor and still maneuver as desired. This horse had a wonderful gait which was springy and elegant despite his large size. They also presented an Andalusia horse (obviously a Spanish breed) which was smaller and also quite elegant. Both these horses are black. A power mule was also a member of this show. He was quite large and could do any of the tricks any of the horses could do and was also much stronger than any of the horses. A western quarter horse (so named because he was bred to be the fastest horse over a quarter mile) was also among this group. He is a smaller, yet quite nimble horse greatly favored in the USA because of his versatility in uses — cowboy ’ s favorite for sure but also good for dressage, hunting, and pleasure riding. The final fellow as a burro named Hershey Kiss. He was very tiny and ever so appealing. He is being raffled off at a fund raising for the Horse Park. Another fascinating factoid we learned about horses concerned their “ guts ” believe it or not. Horses evolved in dry desert places and in the north of Europe and they evolved significantly different digestive systems to adapt to the climatic distinctions of those places. Arabians which are the forefathers of thoroughbred horses obviously evolved in hot, dry places. Because of this environment, they needed to develop mechanisms which helped them rid their bodies of excess heat; hence they grew “ short guts. ” These intestines allowed them to process and expel food quickly so that heat was dissipated in that way. However, the downside here that these equines must eat often and much food since their shorter intestines only process about 20% of what the animal ingests. These horses are also nervous, flighty, constantly moving because they need to burn their excess energy. As is clear, these are high maintenance horses.
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