What is a Drum Horse?

The British Drum Horse prior to 1998 was basically unknown to America but lately due to crossbreeding with many Clydesdales and Shire mares you can find a good number of Drum Horses that are offered for sale in the U.S. these days.​

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Drum Horses are usually the result of breeding two Drum Horses together or by breeding a Gypsy Horse to a Clydesdale, Friesian or a Shire. Their offspring must express an obviously pinto pattern and stand at least 16 hands tall. (see also below the GCDHA standard of conformation and registration requirements).
Nearly always piebald or skewbald in color, the Drum Horse must be strong and steady enough to carry the stout kettle drums during such ceremonies as Trooping the Color* at Buckingham Palace. The horses are only controlled by reins attached to the rider's feet.
It takes a very special horse to carry such a prominent role in the Queen's Household Cavalry and they are one of the most popular and recognizable members of the regiment. By tradition, the honorable equine is given the name of a classical hero. Horses called Alexander the Great, Bonaparte, and Constantine have all carried the drums with pride!
Purpose of the Breed

The purpose of the Drum Horse is to develop the quintessential heavy riding horse utilizing the bloodlines of the Gypsy Cob, Shire, Clydesdale and Friesian. The ideal Drum Horse would display the calm disposition, profuse feathering and pinto markings reminiscent of, and inspired by, some recent working Drum Horses in use by HRM the Queen of England's cavalry, along with the agility, movement and athleticism to excel in a variety of ridden and driven disciplines.

(NOTE: Many times people ask the GCDHA if they can register a horse that is a non-feathered spotted draft. The answer to that question is no; the horse must be a blend of one or more of the above mentioned heavily feathered draft breeds because feather is a recessive gene, and a mark of the Drum Horse breed in America. The only way to preserve the heavy feathering of the Drum Horse is to breed heavily feathered horses to other heavily feathered horses. Breeding a smooth legged horse to a feathered horse will result in a smooth legged or lightly feathered horse, which would not meet the Drum Horse registration requirements.)

Drum Horse Standard of Conformation
Size
Minimum 16 hh and upwards. For regular registration status, the smaller of the 2 parents must be at least 15hh.
General Appearance
The overall appearance of a Drum Horse should give the impression of intelligence, kindness, strength and agility. The Drum Horse is considered a heavy riding horse and should display the athleticism to allow for a pleasant day of hunting, hacking or other ridden discipline. The ideal Drum Horse should also excel at driving. They should be a large well-muscled horse of either medium weight or heavy weight, with good quality bone, a sturdy body, kind expression and abundant hair.

Disposition
The Drum Horse should be, above all else, a kind and willing partner. It should display an intelligent character and docile temperament with a calm and sensible attitude.

Hair
Mane and tail should be long and thick. Abundant feather should start at the knees and hocks, preferably with some hair running down the front of the leg as well as the back. Feather should be soft and silky but may be straight or curling, and should cover the hoof. Docking of tails is not permissible*. Trimming of any mane, tail, or feather is frowned upon, unless required in a discipline in which the horse in question competes. A small bridle path is allowed, as is the trimming of facial and belly hair if so desired.

(*Mature Horses registered with the GCDHA will be grandfathered on the docking rule. Rule applies ONLY to foals born after 2004.)

Color
Regular registered Drum Horses may have any base color but must express an obviously pinto pattern which may include sabino, overo, or tobiano markings (or combinations thereof). Frame overos are allowed but discouraged. To determine the minimum amount of white, for eligibility, draw an imaginary line from elbow to stifle. The white must be above this line (excluding the head) and be a minimum of 10 inches in length. If the white is in a long, narrow pattern, the length must be at least 14 inches and the width a minimum of 3 inches

Movement
When in motion, the ideal Drum Horse should move with action, power, grace, and agility. Head carriage and collection should appear natural, not overly exaggerated or forced. Movement should be free, straight and square with ample impulsion. Knee action should be somewhat snappy but a long, free moving shoulder should allow the ability to reach forward in a classic extension. The horse should move up under itself with a smooth, powerful stride, should be light on the forehand and exhibit 3 good gaits. The Drum Horse's movement should be suitable for a variety of ridden and driven disciplines.

Head
The head should be in proportion to the body, neither too large nor too small, with broad forehead, generous jaw, square muzzle and even bite. The ears should be cleanly shaped and well set on. The eyes should be large and set well apart with an intelligent, kind expression. Eyes can be any color, and blue eyes shall not be penalized. Both convex and straight profiles are acceptable. Stallions and geldings should have a masculine appearance to the head, and mares a feminine appearance.

NeckThe neck should be substantial and well muscled with a defined arch. It should be clean through the throat, not too short, and tie in well at the shoulder and withers. Stallions may exhibit a masculine crest in proper relationship to the size and thickness of neck.

Chest
The chest should be broad with ample muscle. The muscle along the bottom of the chest should appear in an inverted "V" shape as it ties into the forearm.

Shoulders
The shoulders should be deep, powerful and of a correct slope to allow for ample, free movement.

Withers
Withers should be average in height, not too high, with a generous layer of muscle.

Back
The back should be short and supple, well muscled and tie in strongly at the loin.

Barrel
The barrel should be deep with well sprung ribs and a solid covering of muscle. The flank should be as deep as the girth. The loin should be strong and tie into the croup with a smooth, well muscled appearance.

Hindquarters
Smooth and rounded across a long croup, with a medium to high tail set, long hip with wide pelvis and well muscled thighs and buttocks.

Feet & Legs
The legs should be set squarely under the body, straight, with clean joints and plenty of dense, flat bone. Forearms and thighs should be well muscled. Hindlegs should display clean and well defined hocks that are broad, deep, flat and wide when viewed from the side. The Drum Horse may or may not exhibit the influence of the draft horse hockset. Pasterns should be long enough to allow a proper slope of about 45 degrees from the hoof head to the fetlock joint. Feet must be sound and substantial with a generous, open heel
Classifications:
These rules and changes are effective 1/1/2005.

Regular*- Pedigree must contain a minimum of 7/8 Gypsy Cob, Shire, Clydesdale or Friesian breeding (in any combination). No full blooded Gypsy Cobs, Shires, Clydesdales, or Friesians may be registered as Regular. The horse must meet all of the physical requirements of the breed as put forth in the Breed Standard, (and must be of *pinto coloration). The smaller of the 2 parents must be a minimum height of 15hh.

*If horse submitted for registration is a foal born on or after 1/1/2006, the foal's pedigree MUST contain a minimum of 1/8 Gypsy Cob to be approved as Premium.

Note: For registration in the Regular Category, horses must be vet certified to stand a minimum of 16hh on or before their 5th birthday. Any horse whose application for registration is submitted without a Height Certification, or a growing horse with a current certified height of less than 16hh, will receive temporary papers until such time that a Height Certification form is submitted that certifies the horse is at least 16hh. Any horse that will be bred before their 5th birthday should submit Height Certification before breeding for purposes of registering the foal in the proper category.

Breeding Stock (previously called Appendix) - Pedigree must contain a minimum of 3/4 Gypsy Cob, Shire, Clydesdale, or Friesian breeding (in any combination). (Full blooded Shires, Clydesdales, or Friesians will be issued an Identification Number rather than a registration certificate.) The horse must meet the physical requirements of the breed as put forth in the Breed Standard. The amount of feathering on a Breeding Stock horse may be somewhat lighter than that of a regular registered horse, but must be consistent with a horse who is a minimum of 3/4 Gypsy Cob, Shire, Clydesdale, or Friesian. Breeding Stock horses may be solid in coloration, and/or may have been bred from one parent who stands less than 15hh tall.
Note: For registration in the Breeding Stock Category, horses must be vet certified to stand a minimum of 15hh on or before their 5th birthday. Any horse whose application for registration is submitted without a Height Certification, or a growing horse with a current certified height of less than 15hh, will receive temporary papers until such time that a Height Certification form is submitted that certifies the horse is at least 15hh. Any horse that will be bred before their 5th birthday should submit Height Certification before breeding for purposes of registering the foal in the proper category.

Light Horse Crossbred*- Horses with one parent that is a registered Drum Horse or Gypsy Cob, and one parent of any light horse breed. (4 photos of light horse must be provided with foal's application) May be of any coloration.

*Crossbred stallions are not eligible for registration, so colts must be gelded prior to submitting an application for registration.

Heavy Horse Crossbred**- Horses with one parent that is a registered Drum Horse or Gypsy Cob, and one parent of any non-feathered draft breed (ie, Percheron, Belgian, Spotted Draft, American Cream Draft, or Suffolk). The non-Gypsy Cob/Drum parent must be of obvious draft horse type (4 photos of draft horse must be provided with foal's application) and may be of any coloration.

**Fillies/mares from this division are eligible for a breeding-up program to produce foals that are 3/4 Drum Horse and eligible for Breeding Stock registration, OR foals that are 7/8 and eligible for Premium registration. Stallions are not eligible for registration, so colts must be gelded prior to submitting an application for registration.
Registration Requirements:
Any horse seeking Drum Horse registration with the GCDHA must either be:
  • The offspring of two regular registered Drum Horses,
  • The offspring of one regular registered Drum Horse and one Breeding Stock registered Drum Horse,
  • Or meet the breeding and physical requirements as described below:

In order to register a stallion or mare as a regular Drum Horse, the bloodlines must contain a MINIMUM of 7/8 of ANY combination of the following breeds: Friesian, Clydesdale, Shire, Drum Horse, and/or Gypsy Cob. Effective Jan. 1, 2005, no full-blooded Shires, Clydesdales, Friesians or Gypsy Cobs may be Premium registered as Drum Horses. Foals born after Jan. 1, 2006 must be a minimum of 1/8 Gypsy Cob. The horse must display pinto coloration, and physically meet the Drum Horse Breed Standard as published.

In order to register a stallion or mare as a Breeding Stock Drum Horse, the bloodlines must contain a MINIMUM of 3/4 of ANY combination of the following breeds: Friesian, Clydesdale, Shire, Drum Horse, and/or Gypsy Cob, AND the horse must also physically meet the Drum Horse Breed Standard as published. Pinto coloration is not a requirement for Breeding Stock registration. Breeding Stock horses must be at least 15hh tall by their 5th birthday.

Note: Horses registered as Drum Horses may not be dual registered as a Gypsy Cob/Vanner, either purebred or part-bred. Such dual registration will be cause to cancel any Drum Horse registration.
Horse Guards Parade
If you're planning on visiting London during the summer months, be sure and plan a visit to Horse Guards Parade. Horse Guards Parade is the largest single open space in London and is the location of the annual *"Trooping of the Color" ceremony each June, to celebrate the Queen's official birthday.

Horse Guards Parade was built in 1745 to house the old palace guard. Today, the visitor can enjoy watching the mounted sentries change guard each hour, from 10 am to 4 pm, at the entrance to Horse Guards. Outside these hours, unmounted sentries stand guard.

Horse Guards Parade gets its name from the Queen's Life Guard, provided by officers of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, belonging to The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals.

You can tell the difference between these squadrons by their uniforms. The Life Guards wear red tunics and white plumed helmets, the Blues and Royals (Royal Horseguards and 1st Dragoons) wear blue tunics and ted plumed helmets.​

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