Early American farm horses can be easily be enjoyed with Safari Ltd. model toys. Early American farms are more easily understood by children through the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series. Comparing and contrasting farming in Farmer Boy to the stories about Laura and her sisters shows differences in farms and even the horses. For the “How i Safari” spring promotion, I received a free Clydesdale model horse (non-affiliate link) from the Safari Ltd. company for my review. No other compensation was provided. This post has 3 free resources so continue reading. The Clydesdale is one of the horses that worked early American farms. I immediately thought of Farmer Boy and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as the families relied heavily on horses. This post will review the Clydesdale and other horses, as well.
Early American Farm Horses
Clydesdales are the matched, big bay (brown with black markings) horses driven in teams pulling brightly colored wagons.
Clydesdales are light enough to be ridden in the saddle, although they aren’t as fast as a typical saddle horse. Clydesdales were used on farms when the land wasn’t so tough as to need an extremely powerful horse. One consideration farmers had when selecting horses was also how much food was needed to keep a horse healthy. The bigger the horse, the more they eat.
Clydesdales are very recognizable due to their prominence in parades from a certain company out of Saint Louis, Missouri. The Clydesdale is one of the horses in this set of information 3-part cards appropriate for elementary age learners.
horses-3-part-cards (0pens here)
Here is a photo of the 3-part cards in use.
Morgan horses are amazingly versatile horses. They tend to be smaller in size but are immensely strong. Do not let their shorter stature and delicate beauty fool you. Morgans are generally agreed upon to have originated out of Vermont. The University of Vermont still has a working Morgan farm which can be visited by Morgan fans.
As mentioned, these are the horses raised on the Wilder farm. Pa Wilder was not only a farmer but also a horse trainer. As Pa Wilder phrased it, the Morgan is tough enough for farm work yet light and swift enough to pull a buggy or ride in a saddle. Morgan fans like to say the Morgan horse can do it all.
American farmers also valued other draft horses, some of which had been developed in Europe. Other than Morgans, two other breeds developed in America that contributed greatly to the development of American agriculture are the American Quarter Horse and the American Cream.
Free horse labels work page, click on the link horse-parts-work-page
The Early American Farm Horse
The early American farm horse helped build the country, as described in the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Wilders were successful and relatively wealthy farmers. Their barns (yes, more than one) are described in detail and they owned a herd of horses. The purebred Morgans also brought in quite a lot of money each year when Pa Wilder sold matched pairs of horses to New York City horse buyers. The Ingalls, in contrast, felt lucky to have even a single team of horses instead of oxen. The Ingalls horses, Sam and David, were not described by breed or even appearance, but they were just as important to the Ingalls as the purebred Morgans were to the Wilders. Sam and David were likely mixed breed horses which did not make them any less useful or less of a farm horse.
Shire Draft Horse
The Shire horse was used by knights in the middle ages and was England’s warhorse. The Shire horse is a survivor of a horse that was referred to as The Great Horse.
Farmers did not exclusively use only American developed breeds. Often economics and availability dictated what horses were bought. I.e. the farmer often bought the most affordable horses for the expected purpose.
Because a strong power source was needed to work the soil of the American prairie, the first European Draft Horses were imported to America in the late 1830’s. Although Oxen were preferred due to a lower maintenance cost, horses were faster workers. Western migration and the civil war increased demand for the new farm equipment and workhorses. By 1900, there were over 27,000 purebred Belgians, Clydesdales, Percherons, Shires, and Suffolk Punches in the United States.
*Note: I bought my own Shire Safari Ltd. toy. A large, athletic, powerful horse was needed to carry the weight of mounted soldiers with heavy armor that could be up to 400 pounds.
American Quarter Horse
The sprinting American Quarter Horse is necessary to chase after rogue cattle and convince said misguided cattle to rejoin the herd.
Quarter Horses are taller and rangier in appearance than Morgan horses. They are tough horses who can cover long distances at a reasonable speed.
The American Cream comes in different weights; draft and saddle. Visitors to the Wells Fargo farm at the Minnesota Zoo can see these beautiful horses.
Three other common breeds found on American farms were the Clydesdale, Percheron, and Belgian.
Smaller Percheron horses were often featured in circuses and as parade horses. Besides working on a farm, they also made excellent stagecoach horses being powerful enough to pull a coach of people and luggage but fast enough to keep passengers happy.
Belgian horses are known to be able to pull more than 10,000 pounds when working in pairs! Belgians are now the most popular draft horses in America and often have a golden to red coat and a flaxen (ivory) mane.
So dear Reader, we have not only the early American farmers to thank for building a great country, but also their livestock. Especially the many horses of all sizes, breeds, and age.
Thank you for reading, I-Ried
Children can learn so much from Safari Ltd. teaching toys!
Horse Parts Google Slide
The second free resource is a Google Slide for children to label horse parts. If you haven’t used Google Slides before, they are nice an quiet and not like games. Although they are considered to be an app, there are no bells and whistles. They are perfect for allowing screen time without worrying about levels and expenses. This is the link to the slide and you will be invited to open a copy which will save to your own Google Drive. A free app may be required, and Gmail is necessary.
The is a picture of the slide. The words are movable. Children will label the parts of the horse. An answer key is provided both for the parent or teacher to quickly check work, and also for the child to study.
You might also like another horse graphing active learning graphing freebie activity at this link.
Thank you for reading, I. Reid and Carolyn
You might also like other posts by i-Reid.