Draft Horse Breeds

The Draft breeds popular in America are commonly listed as: Clydesdale, Belgian or Belgian Draft, Percheron, Suffolk or Suffolk Punch, and the great Shire.

Probably the most recognized by non-draft folks is the Clydesdale -- from the publicity the famous Annheiser-Busch teams generate. Belgians are probably the most numerous in the United States, at work in the field, in Draft shows and in pulling contests. Percherons show up wherever workhorses do -- they pull, show, work, and jump! I have seen the Shire in show and ridden dressage. Less numerous in the United States are the Suffolk and American Cream Draft. The French Mulassier is one of too many endangered domestic species.

From before the 1970's probably the most important contributions purebred draft breeders made to the horse community, was in maintaining pure lines for cross breeding purposes. The hearty 'chunk' or draft cross as they are known today can be registered in the Draft Cross Registry.

Horse breed encyclopedia sites include the Internation Museum of the Horse and Oklahoma State University.




This horse traces back to the 1st-2nd century A.D., in Northwest France.  An apparent cross of Old Forest horse, Spanish, and Arab breeds, the Boulonnais may also be a Numidian descendant.

Named for their high-speed runs of fresh fish to Boulogne, today there are two divisions of the breed. The smaller fish-cart horse, and the nearly extinct larger type.
  Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Belgian, or Brabant

The Belgian is often described as the 'docile' draft horse. Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 


The Clyde excels at its intended function, pulling drayage in city streets. Lighter than other draft breeds, the Clydesdale's height gives it good leverage in controlling the delivery wagon. With its flashy way of going and abundant feathers taken from its Shire origins, the Clyde is popular in parades, shows, and at work. Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 


Compared to the Belgian, the Percheron has been said to have more 'personality' ... or more 'attitude', depending on the day. Top of the Page Draft Resource Page  


In its native UK, the Shire is the big draft, between 2200 and 2600 pounds. Americans may be more familiar with a lighter type, from 1400 to 2000 pounds. The Shire has an abundance of feather with a flashy way of going that serves well in parade or show, or to pull its feet from soft ground at work. Top of the Page Draft Resource Page

Spotted Draft

Top of the Page Draft Resource Page


The draft without feathers, that bushy fringe of hair above the hoof.

According to the American Suffolk Horse Association, "Suffolks are large, symmetrical and uniform in color and type. Their frames are supported by clean, dense bone. Due to their extreme draftiness, the legs of the Suffolk appear short and are strongly muscled in forearms and gaskins. They are placed well under the horse and are free of long hair." Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Norwegian Fjord

Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 


This small horse from the Hafling region of Austria was raised to be useful in the small work areas, and thrifty in winter. The Haflinger is a crowd pleaser at draft auctions. Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Irish Draught

Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

American Cream Draft

"An Iowa Treasure 'Old Granny' the first known American Cream, appeared at a farm sale in Story County, Iowa, in 1911. By approximation, her foaling date, lay somewhere between 1900 and 1905." (according to Oklahoma State Horse Breeds information).

According to the American Cream Draft Horse Association: Breed Standards for American Cream Draft horses call for light, medium or dark cream color on pink skin, white mane and tail, and amber or hazel eyes. Foal's eyes are almost white the first year. White markings on face and legs are desirable. Creams have long manes and tails, and tails are not docked.

Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Draft Cross Registry

Draft Cross Breeders and Owners Association (DCOBA) -- Provide a venue for registering Draft Cross Horses Any Draft Cross Horse that is at least 1/64th, but not 100% draft is eligible for registration with this organization.

Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Mulassier, the Poitou donkey and the Poitou draft mule

The Mulassier is an endangered French breed - about 400 left in the world. There are only 3 in the USA - most will never be able to be imported as they cannot pass the US bloodtests.

Crossed with the Poitou Donkey to produce the Poitou mule, the Mulassier is one of the historic Draft breeds.

"We have info and photos of this unusual breed on our website at www.geocities.com/baudetdupoitou."

Leah Patton Top of the Page Draft Resource Page 

Comments: Brad
Updated: 2004-09-28 -- bk 

Valid HTML 3.2!