When we talk about draft horse breeds, the first traits that come to mind are their energy to do farm work, their muscular body structure, and their immense power. There are many draft horse breeds which you can consider if you are planning to become a horse owner.
Let us take you through 10 of the strongest and most popular breeds:
1. South German Coldblood Horse
The South German Coldblood Horse originated in southern Germany and has an alternative name, Suddeutsches Kaltblut. This breed of draft horses is essentially a progeny of the Austrian Noriker, which were brought to Bavaria, South Germany, during the 1800s.
This draught horse breed is widely distributed across Bavaria. They are hardy, versatile, agile, good-natured, and extremely willing draft horses. They have mid-sized heads, and their eyes are very expressive.
The weight of these horses is above 500 kilograms, and their average height is 16 to 16.2 hands. One of the most exciting aspects of these horses is they are one of the very few breeds that have leopard printing.
However, they are prone to certain diseases. While they are used for farm works in certain regions, they are essentially used as show and carriage horses.
2. Belgian Draft Horses
Belgian draft horses originate in Belgium’s Brabant region. These draft horse breeds were known as the Flanders Horse, named after the European region where they originated. The ones that are seen in the United States presently are more refined compared to the original breeds.
Given their kind disposition, these horse breeds prove great easy keepers. They are used widely for all kinds of draft work, such as logging, plowing, and pulling sleighs, hitches, and carriages. Riding Belgian draft horses is also a popular activity amongst equine enthusiasts.
Belgian draft horses are massively heavy horses. Their standing height comes to somewhere around 16.2 to 17 hands. They have a comparatively smaller and more refined head. The weight of these horse breeds is somewhere between 1,800 and 2,200 pounds.
3. Shire Horses
Shire draft horse breeds originated in Britain, but have become a popular workhorse breed in many parts of the world. They are usually bay, black or gray in color. This draught horse breed is amazingly calm, gentle, and good-natured.
These horse breeds have been used for pulling artillery and other laborious tasks, such as farm work, haulage, and forestry. Shire horses have been used for driving vehicles and farm equipment, thereby making them excellent draft horse breeds for pleasure or show.
Given the fact that Shire horses have an extremely calm behavior and highly athletic movement, they make for excellent horses for riding. These horses have managed to steal the hearts of many equine lovers with their docility, steadiness, beauty, size, and strength.
The weight of this horse breed is somewhere between 2000 and 4000 pounds. Their height is about 16 to 17 hands, but there was once the tallest Shire horse called Noddy, who measured 20.2 hands.
4. Friesian Horse
Friesian draft horse breeds find their roots in Friesland, which is a province in the Netherlands. During that period, these draft horses were used as medieval workhorses and war horses. Also known as Belgian Black, it is one of the oldest horse breeds in Europe and was introduced in North America in the 17th Century.
However, the horse breed completely disappeared from the region owing to massive crossbreeding, before they were reintroduced in 1974.
Most of the time, these horse breeds are black in color, but they are occasionally chestnut too. Given their versatility, these horses can be ridden for both competition and pleasure. These horse breeds have an average height of 15 to 17 hands.
They weigh about 1300 pounds or more on an average. The most differentiating aspects of these draft horse breeds are their lower-leg feathers, powerful muscles, swift and elegant action, and thick tail and mane.
5. Soviet Heavy Draft Horse
The Soviet Heavy Draft Horse breeds originated in Russia in the 19th Century. They are the progeny of the Belgian Brabant draft breed (bred after World War II in Europe). The Soviet heavy draft horse was initially bred as heavy draft horses for farm works. Over time, people started using them for meat and milk production too.
These horse breeds are seen to mature very quickly and thereby become capable of being used for many purposes within a short period. They have a muscular torso, a short neck, and a strong back. The coat colors of these draft horse breeds vary between brown, bay, chestnut, and roan.
The average height of a male is up to 16.04 hands, and that of a female is up to 15.74 hands. The weight of a male horse is up to 1000 kilograms, while that of a female horse is up to 750 kilograms. Generally, this draught horse is healthy, but they may appear less resistant to certain diseases as compared to other horse breeds.
6. Dutch Draft Horse
Another draught horse breed that originated in the Netherland is Dutch draft horse. These horse breeds are also popular as Nederlands Trekpaard. They look for similar to Ardennes and Belgian draft horses in appearance and build. They are used for farm work and driving, but they have also become popular for dressage competition and recreation.
When it comes to their temperament, these draft horse breeds are amicable, docile, calm, and quiet. They have a solid built, straight head, lively but short ears, good withers, stocky legs, and sound feet. Their colors often vary between gray, chestnut, bay, and black. It’s their quiet disposition and bodily strength that make them useful for an extended period.
The weight of these draft breeds is somewhere between 700 and 750 kilograms, and their height is between 15.2 to 16 hands. They are generally healthy, but owners will have to make sure that they get a balanced diet, comprising vitamins, beet pulp, grass, hay, and vital minerals.
Percheron draft horses originate in Perche in Western France and are known widely for their hard-working and intelligent nature. Many equine experts believe that these horse breeds have come as a cross between sizeable Flemish draft horses and Barb horses. Their colors often vary between chestnut, grey, black, roan, and bay.
This heavy draft horse is amongst the gentlest of horse breeds. They were once used as a warhorse. However, today, they have come to be used for competitions across the world. The first of these horse breeds were introduced in the United States in the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Owing to their strength and stamina, they are used for pulling sleighs, carriages, hayrides, and other farm works.
The weight of these horse breeds is somewhere between 1,800 to 2,600 pounds, and their height is somewhere between 15 to 19 hands. Percheron horses in the United States measure 16 to 19 hands, while those found in France can be smaller or larger than this, depending on their lineage.
8. Fjord Horse
Also known as Norwegian Fjord Horse, these draft horse breeds are small in size, but are extremely strong. They are perfect for mountainous expeditions, especially in regions like western Norway. It is believed that these draft horse breeds were domesticated in Norway for over 4,000 years. These horse breeds are loved by equine enthusiasts owing to their versatility, strength, and calmness.
The color of these horse breeds are typically brown dun, but there are also a few that are grey, red dun, yellow dun, and white dun. One interesting fact about these horses is that they rare bear white markings. It is considered one of the purest horse breeds that have been bred for generations now.
Generally, these draft horse breeds measures 13.2 to 14.2 hands in height and weigh about 900 to 1000 pounds. These breeds have different feathers, which form a dun coat having primitive markings. The black and white mane of these horses is usually roached to stay erect. You can find some more interesting facts about Fjord draft horses here.
9. American Cream Draft Horse
The American Cream Draft Horse finds its origin in Iowa in the United States in the early 1900s. It is, in fact, the only draft horse breed that originated in the country. They are medium-heavy draft horses. The horse breed gets its name because of its cream-colored coat, which is believed to have manifested from the “Champagne” gene of “Old Granny,” who was a mare in Iowa in 1905.
These draft horse breeds have amber-colored eyes and pink skin. They are known for their calm and composed temperament and their energetic personality. Given their good-natured disposition, these horse breeds make for good easy keepers. The most common uses of these horses include horseback riding, farm work, driving carriages, and show jumping.
The American Cream draft horse measures 15 to 16.3 hands in height. The average height of the mares is between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds. Stallions can, however, weight somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000 pounds.
10. Suffolk Punch
Lastly, the Suffolk Punch draft horse breeds; these horses originated in Norfolk and Suffolk in eastern England and were exclusively bred for farm work. Some equine experts believe that their origin goes back to the 1500s. They were introduced in the United States somewhere around 1880 and in Canada in 1865.
Suffolk Punch horses have a chestnut-colored coat, but their shade may vary between silver and gold. These horses rarely show white markings on their bodies. They have clean, short, and stocky legs, and their bone density is pretty high. They are more powerful than action-oriented because of their upright shoulders. They have a short but strong back, and their hindquarters are smooth and long.
The average height of Suffolk Punch horses is between 16.1 and 17.2 hands, while their weight is somewhere between 900 and 1000 kilograms. Owing to their docility, good nature, and power, these draft horse breeds make for excellent easy keepers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Breeds Are Draft Horses?
Draft horse breeds are animals that are conventionally believed to have been bred over many centuries to haul loads.
These horses also include smaller breeds, such as Gypsy Horses and Fell Ponies, along with two-ton behemoths. Unlike Arabians, hunting breeds, and thoroughbred horses, draft horses are cold-blooded.
These horses are considered gentle giants of the equine industry. Generally, their height is between 15 and 18 hands, and their weight is 2,000 pounds or more.
Which Is The Strongest Draft Horse Breed?
Belgian draft horses are considered the strongest among all heavy draft horse breeds. This horse breed originates in the Brabant region of modern-day Belgium. Their spirit is very gentle, and they have a powerful body.
Which Is The Biggest Breed Of Draft Horse?
Shire horses are considered the biggest among all draft horse breeds. This draught horse is of British origin and has held the record for being the tallest and largest breed in the world.
Which Is The Smallest Draft Horse Breed?
The Gypsy Vanner horses are considered the smallest of all draft horse breeds. Among ponies, two draft horse breeds that are considered the smallest are Halfingers and Fjords.
Which Draft Horse Is Best For Riding?
Percheron draft horses are considered the best for riding owing to their kindness and agreeable temperament. These horses are said to be “people’s horses” owing to their personality.
There was a time when these horse breeds were used in wars. Besides being excellent workhorses, they are great for having thrilling rides across the countryside, especially in North America.
Which Draft Horse Breed/s Originated From The United States?
The American Cream Draft Horse is the only draft horse breed that originated in the United States. The origin of this horse breed is “Old Granny,” who was a mare in Iowa in North America. It’s a rare horse breed whose beauty lies in its cream-colored coat and amber eyes.
The above are some of the many draft horse breeds that are used by equine enthusiasts. Before you buy one, you should ensure that the breed you choose matches your job and purpose. Be it farm work, hauling, riding, or any other purpose, draft horse breeds make for extremely helpful companions.