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Home > Horses > 11 Draft Horse Breeds Commonly Used For Work (with Pictures)

11 Draft Horse Breeds Commonly Used For Work (with Pictures)

Shire horse

A draft horse is usually a large, muscular horse that breeders created for manual labor. The word draft means to draw out or pull a cart, which tells you the purpose of this animal. These animals are very strong, patient, and easygoing. If you are looking to purchase a draft horse for your farm and wonder which breed is best, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done our research and assembled a complete list of horses to get you started. We’ll show you a picture and tell you a little about each one so you can make an informed purchase.


The 11 Draft Horse Breeds Used for Work

1. American Cream Draft

American Cream Draft Horse
Image By: Collete Larson, Shutterstock

Height: 18–19.5 hands (6–6.5 feet)

Weight: 1,500–2,200 pounds

The American Cream Draft is an excellent workhorse from the United States that is quite a rare find today. It gets its name from its unique gold champagne color. As technology improved in the farming industry during the mid 20th century, the demand for this breed dwindled, and today its population numbers are quite low.

2. Ardennes

Ardennes,Horses_Kevin Carvalho, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Kevin Carvalho, Shutterstock

Height: 18–19.5 hands (6–6.5 feet)

Weight: 1,500–2,200 pounds

You can trace the Ardennes lineage back to Ancient Rome. One look at its muscular frame, and you’ll know why they kept the breed going all these years. It’s native to lands with thick forests, rolling hills, and ridges. Owners often used it as a military horse, but its extreme strength makes it a great farmhand.

3. Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft Horse grazing
Image Credit: OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock

Height: 16.5–19.5 hands (5.5–6.5 feet)

Weight: 1,800–2,200 pounds

The Belgian Draft originates from Belgium, and it is one of the strongest of horse breeds. Owners usually keep this horse as a farmhand, and it can be used to pull carts and plow. It’s the most popular draft horse in the United States and is an excellent choice for anyone who needs a powerful and versatile horse.

4. Clydesdale

Clydesdale horse_ OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock
Image Credit: OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock

Height: 18–21 hands (6–7 feet)

Weight: 1,900–2,700 pounds

The Clydesdale horse is a very large breed that often stands more than 6 feet tall. It’s easily recognizable by the mane that falls over the hooves. It’s changed throughout history, and modern Clydesdale horses are not as large as their ancestors. Owners use these horses in parades, and many people will recognize them as the Budweiser horses.

5. Friesian

Running gallop black Friesian horse
Image Credit: Makarova Viktoria, Shutterstock

Height: 18–21 hands (6–7 feet)

Weight: 1,900–2,700 pounds

The Friesian horse comes from the Netherlands. It’s extremely agile and graceful and has an attractive mane hanging over the hooves like the Clydesdale. It often carried knights wearing armor, and today people use modern Friesian horses for riding as well as for farm work.

6. Fjord

Fjord horse walking
Image Credit: Šárka Jonášová, Pixabay

Height: 18–21 hands (6–7 feet)

Weight: 1,900–2,700 pounds

The Fjord draft horse is from Norway, and it has a distinctive appearance. It has a large arched neck and a medium-sized head. Its mane is long and thick but usually trimmed to accent the neck.

7. Haflinger

Haflinger horse in the field
Image Credit: Paul Henri Degrande, Pixabay

Height: 13.5–15 hands (4.5–5 feet)

Weight: 800–1,300 pounds

The Haflinger is a horse from Austria and Northern Italy. It’s one of the smaller-sized draft horses on this list. Despite their small size, they have plenty of energy for work and are also popular for riding. They have a beautiful chestnut coat.

8. Irish Draft

DublinHorseShow2017 CappaCasanova IrishDraught Conformation
Image Credit: DublinHorseShow2017 CappaCasanova IrishDraught Conformation, Wasechun tashunka, Wikimedia, licensed under CC 4.0

Height: 15–18 hands (5–6 feet)

Weight: 1,300–1,400 pounds

The Irish Draft is a great all-around worker that is very sure on its feet. Its origins are said to date back to the 12th century.  Owners primarily use this horse for showjumping. The Irish Draft gets most of its nutrients through grazing, so it’s popular among ranchers in the south, where the fields grow year-round.

9. Percheron

Percheron horse
Image Credit: StratoArt, Pixabay

Height: 15–18 hands (5–6 feet)

Weight: 1,600–2,300 pounds

The Percheron is a French draft horse that is usually colored grey or black and may exhibit several patterns. It has large eyes, small ears, and a broad forehead. It’s one of the most common draft horses in the United States, where you will find 75% of its population. It’s still quite popular in France as well, where they use the Percheron for work and food.

10. Shire

Shire horse galloping
Image Credit: horsemen, Shutterstock

Height: 16–19 hands (5.3–6.3 feet)

Weight: 1,800–2,500 pounds

The Shire horse is a large breed that is usually colored black, bay, or grey. Owners commonly used this horse to pull delivery vehicles. Modern uses include plowing and riding. Unfortunately, these horses are becoming rare.

11. Suffolk Punch

Suffolk Punch horse trotting up
Image Credit: nigel baker photography, Shutterstock

Height: 15–18 hands (5–6 feet)

Weight: 1,975–2,425 pounds

The Suffolk Punch is an English horse that is chestnut in color. It has plenty of energy and strength to perform various tasks on the farm. It was popular in the early twentieth century, but its numbers are steadily declining, and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists it as critical.

horse shoe divider

Final Thoughts

We hope you have enjoyed reading over these various breeds and have found a few that you would like to add to your farm. We recommend the Belgian or Percheron. Both species are strong enough to do any work you have in mind for them and popular enough that you can find one that is relatively inexpensive. The other breeds may be more difficult to find and expensive to purchase, but they are quite attractive, and worth the cost if they have a specific trait you need.

If we have helped you find some answers, please share this list of 11 draft horses commonly used for work with your friends!

Featured Image Credit: Alla-Berlezova, Shutterstock

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