Top 15 Draft Horses Breeds

Draft Horses:- Clydesdale, Belgian Draft, Percheron, and the Shire are probably the most popularly known draft horses.

Less known are the Suffolk, Boulonnais, Norwegian Fjords, American Cream Draft, Irish Draught, or the French Mulassier (one of many endangered domestic draft species).

Generally, draft horses are larger, heavier, slower, large hoofed, and more sure-footed. They are used for pulling, harness teams, fieldwork, and shows; some drafts may be ridden dressage like the Shire, Percheron, or Norwegian Fjord.

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Draft Horses Breeds

American Cream Draft Horse

American Cream Draft Horse

The American Cream Draft Horse first appeared in 1911 in Iowa. “Old Granny” was of draft breeding and a colt of hers was kept for a stud to develop this eye-striking new breed.

They have a coat that is a rich cream color, pink skin, amber eyes, and a white mane and tail. A foundation was started in 1994 to help preserve this rare breed.


Ardennes horse

The Ardennes breed is thought to have descended from heavy draft horses. This is one of the oldest European heavy draft breeds and was valued by Napoleon for its endurance.

They were used in creating both the Baltic and Swedish Ardennes. This breed is a lighter, mountain-bred version of the Belgian Draft horse.

They have a great ability to work in rough and mountainous terrain and are known for their calm disposition.


Bashkir horse

The Bashkir was developed in the steppe and mountain zone next to the Urals and Volga. Its primary use was as a draft and utility horse and as a producer of milk and meat.

An average mare would produce about 1500 kg of milk and a top mare would produce about 2700 kg in 7-8 months of lactation. Endurance for work in this breed is also commendable.

Belgian Draft Horse

Belgian Draft Horse

The Belgian Draft Horse is the most direct lineal descendant of the “great horse” of medieval times, which we know as the Flemish horse.

As the need for these larger animals for farm and industrial work became apparent, stallions were exported to many European countries from Belgium.

Today, in the United States there are more Belgian Draft horses than all of the other draft breeds combined.


Clydesdale Draft Horses

The Clydesdale is a heavy draft horse that was developed in Scotland. The farmers from Lanarkshire, which used to be called Clydesdale, created this breed.

They needed this heavy draft horse for agricultural uses, as well as for hauling in the coalfields and on the streets of Glasgow.

Their size does not hinder their ability to move well and they are still used on farms and in many cities today.



The Friesian breed is native to the province of Friesland in the northern Netherlands and one of the oldest domesticated breeds in Europe.

The breed is equally skilled at multi-level dressage, trotting, and driving, singly or combined.

Its high step and outstanding natural movement are the results of its long being favored by breeders throughout Northern Europe. The tail and mane of the Friesian are never cut and often reach the ground.

Gypsy Vanner

Gypsy Vanner

The Gypsy Vanner was bred a century ago in England, and it was used for pulling Gypsy caravans.

It carries the genes of Freisian, Clydesdale, Shire, and Dale breeds. Gypsy Vanners stand about 14 to 15 hands tall, and they feature compact and muscular bodies.

They occur in all sorts of pinto colors, including Piebald and Skewbald. They have a docile and moderate disposition, and they are good in driving and dressage.

Irish Cob

Irish Cob

Irish Cobs originated in the British Isles, Ireland, and they were most popular among nomadic gypsy folk.

These horses occur in Piebald (white and black) and Skewbald (white and brown) color patterns, and they have luxuriant tails and manes.

Besides, Irish Cobs have substantial hooves and coated/feathered lower legs, which emphasize the animal’s overall charm.

Although Irish Cobs are heavy-boned, they move with remarkable lightness, resulting from a combined action of forelegs and shoulders.

Irish Draught

Irish Draught

The Irish farmer needed a horse that could work the land but would also pull the dogcart to church at a quick trot and take the farmer fox hunting.

The hunting farmer wanted a horse that would go all day and jump anything he confronted.

The Irish Draught has benefited from this environment for longer than any other type of horse and over time has developed into Ireland’s unique contribution to the equine world.

Orlov Trotter

Orlov Trotter

The Orlov Trotter was developed in Russia in the 18th century, by Count Alexis Orlov. The horse stands 15-17 hands tall, and the colors are usually grey and black.

These horses feature a small head, elongated neck, and distinctively powerful hindquarters. The body is well-muscled, and the ribcage is well-sprung.

Orlov Trotters are used in riding, driving, and dressage. These horses are traditionally presented in traditional troika races.



The Percheron breed originated in the province of Le Perche, France, and in those times it was used as a battle horse. It was first imported to America in 1839.

Percherons are usually gray or black; they possess a light gait, which is maintained by a strong level back and substantial hindquarters.

Forearms and thighs are well-muscled and the chest is deep and broad. Height ranges between 14.3 and 16.1 hands.


shire horse

Shire Horses are one of the oldest breeds, and their history can be traced back to Roman times.

It was a very valuable warhorse in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII, acts were passed, which banned their importation even to neighboring Scotland.

These horses are large, and stallions reach 17 hands in height. They are massive and well-muscled, and legs feature substantial feather.

Spotted Draft Horse

Spotted Draft Horse

The details of the arrival of the Spotted Draft Horse are not clearly defined, and the breed itself is currently in the stage of development.

The horse is related to the Belgian, the Percheron, and so forth. Spotted Draft Horses are well muscled and large, reaching 17 hands in height. Standards lay a strict emphasis on colors, which must be Tobiano, Overo, or Tovero.


Suffolk Horse

The Suffolk horse originated in Norfolk and Suffolk counties of England and was widely used by English farmers, who had to plow the heavy clay soil.

Therefore, this horse possesses great stamina, power, and endurance, being at the same time easy-going, people-oriented, and very laborious.

The legs are very strong, the chest is broad and the back is muscled and powerful. The color is chestnut with occasional white markings.

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