Draft horses were very common once upon a time. Because of their size and power, they were widely used on farms. Not only their size and strength made them ideal farm horses, but their calm nature and brave demeanor also made them excellent war horses.

Tractors have largely eliminated the need for working animals nowadays. That isn’t to say that draft horses have vanished! They can be seen pushing carts, being ridden, and assisting on the farm. Some draft horse breeds were on the verge of extinction before making a comeback.

Draft Horses Facts

These facts about draft horses show that these gentle giants can still be productive, whether for a small farm, a trail ride, or even competition. Have a look:

facts about draft horses
source:: Photo by Heyzeus Lozoya on Unsplash

1. The Belgian draft horse is the most popular breed

This depends on the number of annual registrations received by the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America. When the numbers of Belgians draft and other draft horse breeds are added together, the number of Belgians outnumbers all other draft horse breeds. Their success stems from their keen senses, ability to work, and fantastic personalities. They’re also recognized for their low-maintenance requirements.

2. They are the world’s largest horse

Brooklyn Supreme, a Belgian stallion, holds the record for being the world’s largest draft horse. He weighed 3,200 pounds and stood 19.2 hands tall. This big boy was born in 1928 and died in 1948, so he lived to be 20 years old. According to Guinness World Records, the world’s new tallest horse is Big Jake, a Belgian who stands 20.68 hands tall. On the other hand, this gelding weighs “just” 2,600 pounds, which is 600 pounds less than Brooklyn Supreme.

3. The Original Belgian Horse was a Multi-Colored Horse

Prior to their development in the United States, Belgian Brabants were available in various coat colors, with the bay being the most popular. The chestnut—a sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, a white blaze, and four socks—became the “desired” color as the breed gained popularity in America.

4. Feathers can be seen on a lot of draft horses

One of the surprising and unknown facts about draft horses is feathers. When you tell someone, who isn’t familiar with horses, certain breeds have “feathers,” they usually chuckle. You may be asked, “Aren’t birds the only species with feathers?” A feather is a soft, silky hair that runs down the lower half of the body on a horse, and most draft horses today have them. This is because many draft horse breeds’ bloodlines have been mixed to enhance conformation and standards. Medium feathering is seen in Percherons and Belgians, while strong feathering is seen in Clydesdales and Shires.

5. Draft horses participate in a variety of competitions

It’s quite a sight to see these gentle giants compete in events. Many draft horses will compete in weight pulling competitions, in which each horse or a team of horses pulls a large amount of weight. Halter competitions are also popular among draft horses, who have an imposing and impressive appearance. Draft horses have competed in open shows, pleasure driving, and dressage daily. These activities are also one of the entertaining facts about draft horses.

facts about draft horses
source:: Photo by Philippe Oursel on Unsplash

6. Draft horses are referred to as “cold-blooded.”

Being cold-blooded is one of the facts about draft horses, and the reason behind it is their overall personality. A cold-blooded breed is any horse that is cool, ready to work, and responds to commands without resistance. Almost all draft horse breeds are thought to be in this category.

7. In war, draft horses used to do more than just carrying a rider

In cavalry, draft horses were sometimes used to bring riders through a daring charge or shield riders in close combat. Divisions used them to drive artillery or supply wagons behind the initial battle lines on a regular basis.

facts about draft horses
source:: canadiancattlemen.ca

8. Heavy harness work is also associated with draft horses

Those who need to drive draft horses can choose from a variety of team types. Two horses hitched side-by-side is referred to as a “gang.” The two horses are in a single-file line in a “tandem.” A team of one horse in front is known as a “unicorn hitch.” You have two or three teams of horses, whether you have a four- or six-horse hitch. The method of selecting a team entails more than just strength and willingness. To make a team of draft horses look uniform, there is also an aesthetic requirement. These are some warrior and courageous facts about draft horses that define their characteristics.

9. PSSM is a problem for certain draft breeds

PSSM, or Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy, is a widespread genetic metabolic muscle problem observed in at least 20 different horse breeds. It makes the horse tremble during exercise, causes muscle wasting in the shoulders and hindquarters, and causes muscles to stiffen and hurt. According to research carried out in 2010, the gene that causes PSSM can be found in more than 60% of Percherons and nearly 40% of Belgians.

10. Many draft horses are vulnerable to dehydration and heat 

If there are no shaded areas available, simply turning out a draft horse can be enough to cause heat problems. Since draft horses’ working muscles do not dissipate heat as well as other breeds, they need more water and shade than other horses. Draft horse owners are also advised to install fans in their barns to keep the air circulating at all times, so their animals remain cool. If you are willing to get the draft horse, this is one of the important facts about draft horses that will help you.

11. Draft horses were often used by jousting knights

When knights used to joust with one another as a means of competition during the Renaissance, it was common for them to ride on a draft horse. This was due to the horse’s height, weight, and stability, which allowed the knight to absorb the impact while remaining upright and keeping the horse moving forward at a steady pace. These facts about draft horses used by jousting knights are most talked about and are seen in lots of movies and entertainment programs.

facts about draft horses
source:: Photo by Casper Johansson on Unsplash

12. A custom saddle is required for most draft horse breeds

You can’t just put a standard saddle on a draft horse and plan to go for a ride. Since most draft horses have small withers and rounded tails, a regular saddle creates back pain for them. Bits that are too small for draft horses bite them, making them more receptive to the bit.

Draft horses prove themself to be better than other breeds in all aspects. Here we discussed most of the facts about draft horses, from their purpose to the lifestyle they prefer. The obedient and hardworking nature of these horses made them everyone’s first choice.

(Last Updated On: April 20, 2021)