When is a breed an actual breed and not just a type? I would hazard to say, when we successfully breed our type to type and get our standard consistently. That might be a bit simple, but the truth in essence. We have fielded many questions from new owners, long time breeders, and the general public: Just how do you properly breed a Drum Horse? First, we can tell you what Drum Horses aren’t. Drums are not large Gypsies. At this stage in breed development, the Drum Horse is a type. Through careful planning and selective breeding, we are moving this horse from type to breed. Creating a new breed doesn’t happen overnight or within one generation. It can take years and many generations to achieve the desired horse that meets a set standard. We, as Drum breeders, are at the beginning of our breed journey.
Within the developing Drum Horse breed we have created F designations, currently set as the Foundation Drum Horse and the F1, F2, and F3 Drum Horses. The F designation is based solely on the percentage of Gypsy within the horse, the remaining percentage being Clydesdale and/ or Shire. A Foundation Drum Horse has either more than 50% or less than 6.25% Gypsy blood. This is not to be confused with a Foundation Horse which is full blood Gypsy, Clydesdale, or Shire, or a Clydesdale/ Shire cross. The F1 Drum Horse has exactly 50% Gypsy, so this would be the first cross of a Gypsy to a Clyde, Shire, or a Clyde/ Shire cross. You can also get an F1 Drum by breeding two F1s together; both parents having 50% Gypsy will result in the foal having 50% Gypsy. The F2 Drum Horse has between 25% and 49.99% Gypsy. The F2 comes when you start breeding Drums back to Clydesdales or Shires or Drums with a lower percentage of Gypsy. The F3 Drum Horse has between 6.25% and 24.99% Gypsy. Again, this results from breeding Drums back to Clydesdales or Shires or Drums with a lower percentage of Gypsy. There is currently no F designation beyond F3. An F4, F5, etc., does not exist at this time.
The idea behind progressing toward the F3 designation is to move our development of this breed forward. Continuing to breed only the first cross of Gypsy to Clyde or Shire or the breeding together of two F1s will not help us produce a horse that will ever meet our standard. Instead producing shorter Drums with more Gypsy characteristics than the Drum Horse we are endeavoring to breed. F1 Drums are essential for building the foundation of the Drum Horse breed, but they are not the end goal. We need to breed back to our Clydesdales, Shires, and any Drums with a lower Gypsy percentage to move toward our goal of the ideal Drum Horse.
One idea that the ADHA* kicked around was that a foal from a Drum-to-Drum breeding would not have to worry about the Gypsy %. Breed a Drum to a Drum and you get a Drum. Now, whilst that would be correct if we were dealing with an established breed, it will not work when trying to create a new breed. If we continued to only breed F1 to F1, generation after generation, we would be no closer to breed standard in the 10th generation than we were in the 1st generation; this line of Drum Horses would all have exactly 50% Gypsy, and no progress would have been made.
*The ADHA (American Drum Horse Association) became the IDHA in 2012.
Remember, we are at the beginning of our Drum breeding and need to work out the best formula for taking the best qualities from our three foundation breeds and develop these into a completely new breed - The Drum Horse!
Okay, let’s have some fun!
- Henry - F1 Drum Stallion (50% Gypsy, 50% Clydesdale)
- Ana - F1 Drum Mare (50% Gypsy, 50% Shire)
- Teddy - F2 Drum Stallion (25% Gypsy, 75% Clydesdale)
- Trina - F3 Drum Mare (12.5% Gypsy, 50% Clydesdale, 37.5% Shire)
- Keeper - F2 Drum Stallion (31.25% Gypsy, 50% Clydesdale, 18.75% Shire)
- Chloe - F2 Drum Mare (37.5% Gypsy, 62.5% Shire)
Now, to cross them…
- Ana x Shire: Gives us an F2 foal (25% Gypsy, 75% Shire)
- Henry x Clydesdale: Gives us an F2 colt named Teddy (25% Gypsy, 75% Clydesdale)
- Teddy x Shire: Gives us an F3 foal (12.5% Gypsy, 37.5% Clydesdale, 50% Shire)
- Henry x Trina: Gives us an F2 colt named Keeper (31.25% Gypsy, 50% Clydesdale, 18.75% Shire)
- Keeper x Clydesdale: Gives us an F3 foal (15.625% Gypsy, 75% Clydesdale, 9.375% Shire)
- Keeper x Chloe: Gives us an F2 Foal (34.375% Gypsy, 25% Clyde, 40.625% Shire)
For breeders that want to continue breeding towards the standard, this is the way of getting to that F3. This does not diminish the F1 Drums that have been bred so far. We need plenty of F1 Drums to give us a large gene pool from which we can build on, as they are a big part of the foundation for the Drum as a breed. The F1 Drum is just as important as the F3 Drum, but the F1 is just the beginning and the F3 is getting us closer to our final goal.
At some point, we need to look for the prize – the horse that can consistently produce a foal that will meet the standard - one that breeds the characteristics of a good Drum Horse true every time. There are F1 Drums out there that can rival an F2 and let’s be honest, not everyone wants a 17hh horse! Right now we are breeding a type. Let’s work towards breeding a breed! This can take 10, 20, 30 years or more. But we have to make the leap from type to breed.
The IDHA will continue, with your help, to move the Drum towards breed status. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have on the breeding guidelines, and we welcome a discussion.