Heavy horses are kind of the All-terrain vehicles of their day.
While they don't cover as much ground as quickly as a lighter horse, they can cover a lot of ground and do so with a deliberate fashion, with each foot being planted with a satisfying and soild clomp. In fact, after the third day of the ride, I had a hard time falling asleep at night because I kept fading into a dream-state in which all I heard were the ringing of hoofbeats in my head.
It was simply perfect countryside to ride through. Despite the rain, there was so many great trails and views to take in. I didn't know this until I arrived, but this is Beatrix Potter country, and her cottage here is a well-known tourist hotspot as the countryside looks much like it did when she was writing here.
Up mountains, down mountains, through creeks and puddles, these horses did it all without a moment's hesitation. They were so not the divas of the horse world and had no problem clomping their way through mud and water and rocky terrain. While they tried to keep riding on the road to a minimum, we did occasionally have to, and they didn't bat an eye in traffic.
They were also the perfect height to get you into the hard-to reach spots on a blackberry bramble.
Although they were a bit challenging to get on and off, they were all so quiet and sweet natured. We rode them into a village and because the main tourist attraction as we lined up to get ice cream.
Rather incredibly, not a single horse decided to poop in front of the ice cream shop. It's like they knew.
Heavy horse breeds are not the easiest keepers though. Eating 35 lbs of food a day means they aren't the cheapest animals to keep. The days of horse and plow are long gone in all but a few small farms that still enthusiastically use horsepower, so most of the breeds have been on the decline for decades now.
While photography conditions were a tad treacherous, I snapped when I could and with a lot of abandon. I did get a lot of smiling happy riders in my shots, and I think that really captured the spirt of the moment more than anything.
These animals can sprint like hellfire, and it's totally surprising to be on a long-reined walk at one moment and asking them to get on racing full speed in the next, and then they go right back to walk calmly with a self-satisfied snort.
Far from being lumbering beast, these horses have big, lively strides, which makes them feel more like thoroughbreds than plow-horses. They have great, bouncy active trots and huge canter strides that is a bit unexpected, but loads of fun. It's just so much power, but they are so controlable and sweet.
I think the zoning laws in Paris would crush my dreams of taking him home with me, so I'm not even going to inquire.
Thank you to Yvonne and Peter and Annie at Cumbrian Heavy Horses for such a lovely ride.