15 Draft Horse Breeds Used for Work (with Pictures)

By Alberto Roy

Updated on:

Draft horses are usually large, muscular horses that were created by breeders for manual labor. Draft Horse Breed is a term that means to pull or draw a cart. This tells you what the animal’s purpose is. These horses are strong, patient, and easygoing. You’re here because you want to buy a draft horse to add to your farm.

We have compiled a comprehensive list of horses after doing extensive research. So you can make informed purchases, we’ll show you pictures and give you some information about each horse.

Draft Horse Breed for Work

1. American Cream Draft Horse

American Cream Draft, a workhorse that hails from the United States, is a rare find. The unique champagne-colored gold of the American Cream Draft is what gives it its name.

The breed’s demand declined as technology in agriculture improved during the 20th century. Today, its population is very low.

Height: 18-19.5 inches (6-6.5 feet).

Weight: 1,500 – 2,200 pounds

2. Ardennes

The Ardennes can be traced back to Ancient Rome. You’ll be able to see why the breed survived all these years by looking at its muscular body. It is a native of lands with dense forests, rolling hills, ridges, and other hilly terrains.

It was often used as a military horse by its owners, but its strength makes it an excellent farmhand.

Height: 18-19.5 inches (6-6.5 feet).

Weight: 1,500 – 2,200 pounds

3. Belgian Draft Horse

Belgian Draft is a strong horse breed that originated in Belgium. This horse is usually kept by its owners as a farmhand. It can also pull carts and plough. This horse is the most well-known draft horse in America and is a great choice for anyone looking for a versatile and powerful horse.

Height: 16.5-19.5 inches (5.5-6.5 feet).

Weight: 1,800 – 2,200 pounds

4. Horses from Clydesdale

Clydesdale horses are a large breed, often standing over 6 feet tall. The mane that falls above the hooves is a sign of its size. The Clydesdale horse has changed over time and is now smaller than their forefathers.

These horses are often paraded by their owners, and many people will recognize them for being Budweiser horses.

Height: 18-21 (6-7 feet).

Weight: 1,900 – 2,700 pounds

Also see: Belgian Horse Vs. Clydesdale – What’s the Difference

5. Friesian Horse

The Netherlands is the origin of the Friesian horse. It is agile and graceful, and it has a mane that hangs over its hooves much like the Clydesdale. It was a common horse that carried armor-bearing knights, and people today use modern Friesian horses to ride as well as for farm work.

Height: 18-21 (6-7 feet).

Weight: 1,900 – 2,700 pounds

6. Fjord Horse

Norway’s Fjord draft horse has a unique appearance. It is medium-sized with a long, arched neck. It has a thick mane that is often trimmed to accent its neck.

Height: 18-21 (6-7 feet).

Weight: 1,900 – 2,700 pounds

7. Haflinger Horse

The Haflinger, a horse from Austria or Northern Italy, is the Haflinger. This horse is one of the smaller draft horses. They are small but have lots of energy and can be ridden. They sport a gorgeous chestnut coat.

Height: 13.5-15 fingers (4.5-5 feet).

Weight: 800 – 1,300 pounds

8. Irish Draft Horse

The Irish Draft is an excellent worker who is very confident on its feet. The 12th century is the time it was born. This horse is primarily used by its owners for showjumping.

Because the Irish Draft is primarily fed by grazing, it is very popular with southern ranchers, where the fields are year-round.

Height: 15-18 inches (5-6 feet).

Weight: 1,300 – 1,400 pounds

9. Percheron Draft

Percheron, a French draft horse, is often colored grey or black. However, it can also display multiple patterns. It is a large horse with small eyes and ears.

It is one of the most popular draft horses in America, with 75% of its total population. It is still very popular in France, where the Percheron is used for food and work.

Height: 15-18 inches (5-6 feet).

Weight: 1,600 – 2,300 pounds

10. Shire Draft

Shire horses are a large breed, which can be colored either black, grey, or bay. This horse was used by owners to pull delivery vehicles. These horses are now used for plowing and riding. These horses are rare, unfortunately.

Height: 16-19 inches (5.3-6.3 feet).

Weight: 1,800 – 2,500 pounds

11. Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch horse is an English horse of chestnut color. It is energetic and strong enough to do many tasks on the farm.

Although it was very popular in the early 20th century, its numbers are declining steadily and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has designated it critical.

Height: 15-18 inches (5-6 feet).

Weight: 1,975 – 2,425 pounds

Modern times have less demand for horses to work, and they are less common than ever before. There are still many magnificent examples of these majestic animals, so we’ll be looking at 15 draft horses that we think are the best or most interesting.

Famous Work & Draft Horse Breeds

1. Shire Horse for Work

The Shire is an English draft horse breed. Stallions typically measure 17.2 hands (178cm, 70.5in at the withers).

It has exceptional pulling power and was used originally for road haulage and farm work.

As railways became more common, and especially as mechanized farming was introduced, the breed began to decline. The Shire Horse has seen a revival in the 1970s and is a valued part of English rural and agricultural culture.

Traditional uses of Shire horses were to pull carts that delivered beer from breweries. This practice is no longer common, but a few breweries in the UK still use it, and continue to deliver beer by horse-drawn wagon.

One of the largest horses ever recorded is a Shire gelded named Samson, whose name was changed to Mammoth after he reached his legendaryly massive heights.

2. Suffolk Punch

The Suffolk Punch, also known by the “Suffolk Horse”, is an English breed. It was bred in Suffolk. It is smaller and more stocky than Shire breeds, measuring 16.2-17.2 inches (165-178cm; 56-70in). It is chestnut in color (traditionally “chesnut”).

This breed was originally bred to farm work. It is hardy and has a great temperament. This breed is also easier to care for than similar horses and requires less feed.

The Suffolk Punch, a 16th-century breed of draft horse, is still recognized today. It is currently very rare and is classified as “critical” by UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust.

3. Clydesdale

Clydesdale is where the Clydesdale breed originated. This was the original name of what is now the county Lanarkshire in Scotland. The breed was thought to have originated from Flemish stallions being bred with local mares in order to improve their stature. Shire blood was added to the breed in the 19th century.

Clydesdales can stand 16-18 hands (162-183cm; 63.5-72in), but they are taller and more powerful than their predecessors. Clydesdales are typically bay-colored with feathering around their legs. However, other colors are available.

With the introduction of mechanized farming, the breed suffered a serious decline and was at risk of extinction. They are now a very popular carriage horse or parade and are used in public relations by Anheuser-Busch, the American brewery.

4. Irish Draught

The Irish Draught is the product of centuries of breeding. This included crossing the Irish Hobby with AngloNorman war horses, Iberian breeds and Clydesdales with Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbreds, Connemara Ponies, and Clydesdales.

It is versatile and can be used for many purposes.

In order to create a variety of sport horses, this horse is often crossbred with Thoroughbreds and warm-bloods. This practice is threatening the survival of the breed as many breeders focus on breeding sport horses, while ignoring mares that can produce purebred horses to continue the line.

5. Dutch Draft

The Dutch Draft is a muscular, large and stocky horse. It was developed in the early 20th-century after the end the First World War. It was once the most prominent Dutch draft horse breed. However, as with many other breeds it fell into decline after the Second World War.

It has a calm temperament and is very strong. It has heavy feathering around the legs.

6. Friesian

The Friesian, another Dutch breed, is one of the more graceful and lighter draft horses. Although they are usually black, there are also bay and chestnut varieties. They can stand between 14.2 to 17 hands (147-173cm; 58-68in), but their average height is 15.3 hands (1160cm)

They are versatile horses that can be used in both harness and under saddle. This is especially true in dressage. They aren’t recommended for heavy work such as farming due to their small frame.

7. Ardennes Horse

The Ardennes horse is an old breed. It is one of the oldest modern draft horse breeds. As the name implies, it comes from the Ardennes region in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.

These horses were once used by the Roman army. The descendants of the original stock have been used throughout history as war horses, both to pull artillery and as mounts.

Stallions are relatively small and stocky, with a height of around 16 hands (162cm, 63.5in). They are used in agriculture, forestry, and leisure. This breed is often bred for its meat.

8. Jutland Horse

The Jutland Horse, which is based in Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, is most likely a descendant of a horse breed that was used by Viking raiders during the 9th Century.

Modern Jutland was created by crossbreeding horses with other horses. It has been around since the late 19th Century.

Although these horses were initially used on farms, they are now more common in horse shows. To transport beer around Copenhagen, the Carlsberg Brewery still uses Jutland Horses.

Jutland Horses can be quite short and stocky at 15-16.1 inches (152-165cm, 60-65in). They are known for their calm temperament and chestnut color. There are only about 1000 purebred Jutland Horses left.

9. South German Coldblood Horse

The South German Coldblood horse breed is found mainly in Bavaria, southern Germany. Although it is closely related to the Noriker horse from Austria, the two breeds can be considered distinct.

This breed has a unique characteristic: it can display “leopard complex patterns” – it’s one of few horse breeds that allows this.

10. Percheron Horse for Work 

The Percheron is one of the most well-known French draft horse breeds. It was born in France’s Huisne valley, which is also known as Perche. This horse’s name comes from the region.

This breed’s ancestors were war horses. The Arabian blood was introduced to the bloodline in the early 19th century. After that, stallions from France were brought in to expand the breed’s size, making it a draft horse instead of a coach horse.

This breed was a popular choice in America before the Second World War. It accounted for 70% of all draft horses in the US. The increased use of technology in agriculture and a decreased need for horses to work after the War led to a decline in the number of these horses.

Percherons in France measure between 15.1 to 18.1 hands (155-185cm; 61-73in). Percherons are typically gray-black in color and are still extensively used as a workhorse. They are popular in show jumping and compete in shows. They are also raised for their meat in France.

11. Brabant Horse for Work

The Belgian, along with the Clydesdale, the Shire and the Percheron were the main breeds of draft horses in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. It is a strong breed that originated in Belgium’s Brabant region.

This horse’s name is somewhat misleading. Brabant horses and Belgian horses were one breed in the past. The names could have been interchangeably.

After the Second World War ended, the Belgian horses in America and Brabant horses Europe differed. The Americans were taller and more agile, while European horses were chosen for their strength and stockiness.

Today, they are considered two distinct breeds. The Belgian horse is an American horse, while the European horse is called “Brabant”. The two breeds are close in many ways and share many similarities.

American Belgians typically stand between 16.2 to 17 hands (168-173cm 66-68in), and are light chestnut colored.

They are still used for their work, but they are now used as pleasure horses and show horses. Brabants are often raised for their meat.

12. North Swedish Horse

The North Swedish Horse, a small, but sturdy horse that is strong and durable, was originally designed for agricultural and forestry work.

They are known for their kindness and good character.

They are also highly valued for their health, which allows them to live longer in the harsh climate of northern Europe.

Like almost all draft horses, North Swedish Horses are less needed for modern agricultural work. They are used for leisure and harness racing.

13. Fjord Horse

The Fjord Horse, another Scandinavian horse breed, is a Norwegian breed originating in the west region of Norway. It is an extremely useful breed due to its quick feet. This versatile animal can be used for many other purposes, including pulling, plowing, driving, and riding.

Although the Fjord Horse is only 13.1-14.3 hands (53-59in) and measures approximately 135-150cm in height, its strength is impressive despite its small stature. The Fjord Horse is a gentle, friendly horse that is willing to work.

Fjord horses are mostly brown dun, although four other colors have been officially recognized. The Fjord Horse naturally has a long mane. However, this is often cut to ease grooming and to highlight the neck’s musculature.

This breed is regarded as one of the oldest in the world and closely related to Przewalski’s Horse, a Central Asian native that is believed to be the last wild horse to survive. Another breed used by Vikings was the Fjord Horse.

14. Russian Heavy Draft

The Russian Heavy Draft, a horse with a small but impressive strength, was developed in Russia in the second half of the 19th century.

It was originally bred to be a working horse to farm. It is now used for milk production, as mares can produce large quantities of milk during lactation. Central Asian peoples rely on mare’s milk as a major component of their diet. It can also be raised for meat.

15. American Cream Draft

It is unique in that the American Cream Draft is the only draft breed still in existence that was created in the United States. It is usually a distinct cream color and has amber eyes.

Although originally meant for farming, its popularity has declined with the advent of mechanization in agriculture. This breed is becoming increasingly rare today – it is estimated that there are less than 2000 of them in existence.

A beautiful animal that is finding its place in the modern world

Although fewer horses are needed to transport, farm, or forestry, there are still many uses for draft horses. They are also more popular for their leisure activities.

This allows us to keep the breeds and the bloodlines intact, which means that we can preserve these elegant, intelligent and graceful creatures for future generations.

[sc_fs_multi_faq headline-0=”h3″ question-0=”Which are the three largest draft horse breeds” answer-0=”Three of the chief horse breeds are the Shires, Clydesdale, and Belgians.” image-0=”” headline-1=”h3″ question-1=”What makes a horse a draft horse?” answer-1=”Draft horses are recognized as workhorses because they can pull profound loads over long distances. They naturally have broad shoulders, a huge chest, and big muscles that construct them suited for pulling and carrying.” image-1=”” headline-2=”h3″ question-2=”What is the best draft horse for riding?” answer-2=”Clydesdale Perhaps the mainly known of the draft horse breeds, thanks in bulky part to the function they have on national beer commercials, Clydesdales are a different all around draft horse. They are high-quality for farming, logging, riding and as superior companions.” image-2=”” headline-3=”h3″ question-3=”What is the most common draft horse breed?” answer-3=”Belgian Draft The Belgian Draft originates from Belgium, and it is one of the strongest of horse breeds. Owners frequently remain this horse as a farmhand, and it can be used to pull carts and plow. It’s the most accepted draft horse in the United States and is an outstanding preference for somebody who needs an influential and versatile horse.” image-3=”” headline-4=”h3″ question-4=”Is a draft horse bigger than a Clydesdale?” answer-4=”If you are going on the weight of the horse, the Belgian draft horse is superior than a Clydesdale. Drafts will weigh 1800 – 2200 pounds and Clydesdales will weigh somewhat less than that. … Clydesdales will average 18 – 22 hands tall and a draft 16.2 – 17 hands tall.” image-4=”” headline-5=”h3″ question-5=”What is the calmest breed of horse?” answer-5=”Keep Calm And Ride On Meet the 5 Calmest Horse Breeds, American Quarter Horse, Morgan Horse, Appaloosa Horse, Norwegian Fjord, Connemara Pony.” image-5=”” headline-6=”h3″ question-6=”How long do draft horses live?” answer-6=”Caring for draft horses is far fewer thorough than tending riding horses. The enduring working animals, which classically stay behind productive for 15 to 20 years of their 25 to 30 years life span, will surely cotton to a characteristic horse barn with stalls, but they don’t demand it.” image-6=”” headline-7=”h3″ question-7=”Can you ride draft horses?” answer-7=”They are also usually used for crossbreeding, mainly to light riding breeds such as the Thoroughbred, for the reason of creating sport horses of warm-blood type. While the majority draft horses are used for driving, they can be ridden and several of the lighter draft breeds are competent performers beneath saddle.” image-7=”” count=”8″ html=”true” css_class=””]


We hope that you enjoyed looking through these breeds and found some you like. We recommend the Percheron or Belgian Percheron.

They are strong enough for any job you might have and they are popular enough to be relatively affordable. Although they may be harder to find or more expensive, they are still attractive and well worth the investment if you have a particular trait.

We are glad to help you with your questions. Please share this list of 11 draft horses that are commonly used for work on Facebook or Twitter.

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