What is a Draft Horse?
by Gail Damerow
Editor of Rural Heritage magazine.
The word draft represents not a specific kind of animal, but
(according to Webster's Unabridged Dictionary) any animal used
for pulling heavy loads. For some reason, Americans have come to
use the word draft in reference to heavy horses, but a horse of
any size may be trained to pull a load.
The heavy breeds are best for heavy farm work and/or large
acreage. They weigh 1,600 pounds or better and stand at least 16
hands high from ground to withers (one hand equals 4 inches).
About 95 percent of all heavy horses in America are either
Belgian (originating in Belgium) or Percheron (originally from
Heavy horses found in North America are:
Heavy breeds that are common in Europe, but not found
in North America, include:
For smaller acreage or lighter work, such as skidding (dragging)
logs for firewood or fenceposts, a sturdy saddle-type horse will
do just fine. Like any work horse, it must be heavy-boned,
well-muscled, and properly conditioned. Light horses suitable for
draft work include:
If you have limited acreage or your terrain tends to be hilly,
you might consider a stout and agile draft pony such as: