I bought Doru back in the Autumn of 2006 without any particular notion of riding him. I'd just bought a white Lipizzaner-cross gelding to ride. Simply I needed another draught horse and Doru happened to be offered at the right moment. At the time I owned three big draught horses and needed a fourth to make two pairs. The vendor was a lumberjack and part-time horse dealer, who happened to be related to one of my employees. Everyone seemed to be related in that village. One day a pair of horses were driven up the long main street of the village, coming to a halt outside my yard, quite likely as a result of conversation between one of my employees and the dealer. One of the horses was a handsome roan stallion, Doru, the other an even larger bay stallion. At the time I liked Doru - he was robust and good natured - and paid around 600 Euro (about $800) for him. On reflection it's quite likely that some thought was put into procuring a horse that I was likely to find useful enough to buy. After I'd been in the village for a few years, the locals had realised that I knew a thing or two about horses and stopped trying to sell me their rejects.
According to his papers Doru came from a village to the south, if I remember rightly one of the logging villages of the Bargau region (whose name, in Hungarian, gave rise to Bran Stoker's Borgo Pass.) That's an area of stout men and tough horses, and well-made houses as a result of the labours of man and beast. I never did take a riding tour down into the Bargau: there was no accommodation on which to base a circuit. Why should the vilagers delve into fickle tourism when a good living was to be made from forestry?
Here's one of the first photos I took of Doru, on 10 February 2007. We were moving a new and very heavy central heating boiler from the street to the back of the guesthouse. Doru was paired with the sensible old gelding Gelu. To their left, in an idle pose with which I became very familiar, is Oprea, the son of Doru's vendor. By that point I had sufficient work on that I hired Oprea to join my team, who were all cousins or otherwise related with some variable degree of removal.
Early on I didn't pay a great deal of attention to Doru. Simply he was a quiet, reliable and very strong work horse who could work with any of my geldings. My horsemen liked him, he coped well with the work, and that was enough. He saw a lot of draught work through that first winter.
As with almost every working horse in Transylvania, Doru was steady on all manner of rough and even treacherous surfaces. Here's a spectacular stream crossing necessary to take hay to the far pasture. I never did get around to building a bridge here, in part because the land beyond was rented. It would have been a long span for a timber bridge too.
On the other side Doru's power came into play. There was a heavy load of hay - probably about two thirds of a ton - to drag up a snowy hillside. The first part was muddy, and you can see how hard Doru is pulling. Seeing how strong and sound Doru was, you can see why I shall spare him the indignity of hobbling about crippled.
Do notice how none of the horses were bridled in those photos. The driver steered them using the long pole of the cart, and by voice. You can see how tractable these horses were. (They would be bridled for driving on the road, when the driver was seated behind on the cart.) It was a pleasure to work with draught horses like this. I keenly miss working with them.