Our Heavy Horse Breeds

Shire - Origin England

Breed Information

The Shire is a British breed of draught horse. It is usually black, bay, or grey. It is a tall breed, and Shires have at various times held world records both for the largest horse and for the tallest horse. The Shire has a great capacity for weight-pulling, and has been popular throughout its history for pulling brewer's drays delivering ale to customers. The horses may also be used for forestry, for riding and for commercial promotion.

In 1878, the British organisation now known as the Shire Horse Society was created, with the American Shire Horse Association beginning in 1885. The breed was exported from Britain to the United States in large numbers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but popularity fell as mechanisation increased, reaching a low point in the 1950s and 1960s. Popularity began to increase again in the 1970s and after. However, population numbers are still considered to be at critical levels by both the UK-based Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the US-based American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.


Shire stallions may be black, bay, brown or grey. They may not be roan or have large amounts of white markings. Mares and geldings may be black, bay, brown, grey or roan. In the UK stallions may not be chestnut, but the colour is allowed by the US association.

The Shire Horse Society of the UK specifies that stallions must stand at least 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm) high when mature, and they average around 17.2 hands (70 inches, 178 cm). Geldings are required to be at least 16.2 hands (66 inches, 168 cm) high and mares at least 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm). Their average weight ranges from 850 to 1,100 kg (1,870 to 2,430 lb) for geldings and stallions, with no set standard for mares.

The head of a Shire is long and lean, with large eyes, set on a neck that is slightly arched and long in proportion to the body. The shoulder is deep and wide, the chest wide, the back muscular and short and the hindquarters long and wide. Not too much feathering is to occur on the legs, and the hair is fine, straight, and silky.

Smaller Shires, under 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm), are generally preferred for working horses, while taller horses, especially those over 18.2 hands (74 inches, 188 cm), are used for show and promotional purposes. The breed is known for its easy-going temperament. Shires have been identified to be at risk for  chronic progressive lymthedema , a chronic progressive disease that includes symptoms of progressive swelling, hyperkeratosis, and fibrosis of distal limbs. The disease is similar to chronic lymthedema in humans.

The Shire has an enormous capacity for pulling weight. In 1924, at a British exhibition, a pair of horses was estimated to have pulled a starting load equal to 45 tons, although an exact number could not be determined as their pull exceeded the maximum reading on the dynamometer. Working in slippery footing, the same pair of horses pulled 16.5 tons at a later exhibition.

The largest horse in recorded history was probably a Shire named Mammoth (also known as Sampson), born in 1848. He stood 21.2 1⁄4 hands (86.25 inches, 219 cm) high, and his peak weight was estimated at 1,524 kilograms (3,360 lb). At over 19 hands (76 inches, 193 cm), a Shire gelding named Goliath was the Guiness Book of World Records record holder for the world's tallest horse until his death July 3, 2014 on the Priefert Ranch in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.

Breed Histroy

Though oxen were used for most farm work into the 18th century, horses 'fit for the dray, the plough, or the chariot' were on sale at Smithfield Market in London as early as 1145.

The English Great Horse was valued during the reign of Henry Vlll, when stallions measuring less than 'fifteen handfuls' could not be kept, but the increasing role of Gunpowder brought an end to the use of heavy horses in battle. Oliver Cromwell's cavalry favoured lighter, faster mounts and the big horses began to be used for draught work instead. During the 16th century, Dutch engineers brought Friesian horses with them when they came to England to drain the fens, and these horses probably had a significant influence on what became the Shire breed.

From this medieval horse came an animal called the Old English Black Horse in the 17th century. The Black Horse was improved by the followers of Robert Bakewell, of Dishley Grange in Leicestershire, resulting in a horse sometimes known as the "Bakewell Black". Bakewell imported six Dutch or Flanders mares, notable since breeders tended to concentrate on improving the male line. Two different types of black horses developed: the Fen or Linconshire type and the Leicester or Midlands type. The Fen type tended to be larger, with more bone and extra hair, while the Midlands type tended to have more endurance while being of a finer appearance.

The term "Shire horse" was first used in the mid-17th century, and incomplete records begin to appear near the end of the 18th century. The "Packington Blind Horse", from Leicestershire, is one of the best-known horses of the era, with direct descendants being recorded from 1770 to 1832. This horse is usually recognised as the foundation stallion for the Shire breed, and he stood at stud from 1755 to 1770. During the 19th century, Shires were used extensively as cart horses to move goods from the docks through the cities and countryside. The rough roads created a need for large horses with extensive musculature.

In 1878, the English Cart Horse Society was formed, and in 1884 changed its name to the Shire Horse Society. The Society published a stud book, with the first edition in 1878 containing 2,381 stallions and records dating back to 1770. Between 1901 and 1914, 5,000 Shires were registered each year with the society.

The first Shires were imported to the United States in 1853, with large numbers of horses being imported in the 1880s. The American Shire Horse Association was established in 1885 to register and promote the breed. The Shire soon became popular in the United States, and almost 4,000 Shires were imported between 1900 and 1918. Approximately 6,700 Shires were registered with the US association between 1909 and 1911.

Around the time of the Second World War, increasing mechanisation and strict regulations on the purchase of livestock feed reduced the need for and ability to keep draught horses. Thousands of Shires were slaughtered and several large breeding studs closed. The breed fell to its lowest point in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1955 fewer than 100 horses were shown at the annual British Spring Show.

In the 1970s, the breed began to be revived through increased public interest. Breed societies have been established in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, and in 1996 the first World Shire Horse Congress was held in Peterborough. The first use within the breed of artificial insemination through frozen semen was with several Australian mares in 1997.

Between the 1920s and 1930s and today, the Shire has changed in conformation. The Clydesdale was used for cross-breeding in the 1950s and 1960s, which changed the conformation of the Shire and most notably changed the feathering on the lower legs from a mass of coarse hair into the silky feathering associated with modern Shires.

At the peak of their population, Shires numbered over a million. In the 1950s and 1960s, this number declined to a few thousand. In the United States, the Shire population dropped significantly in the early part of the 20th century, and continued to decline in the 1940s and 1950s. Between 1950 and 1959, only 25 horses were registered in the United States. However, numbers began to increase, and 121 horses were registered in the US by 1985.

The National Shire Horse Spring Show is still held annually and is the largest Shire show in Great Britain. Currently, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy considers the population of the Shire to be at "critical" levels, meaning that the estimated global population of the breed is less than 2,000 and fewer than 200 registrations are made annually in the US. The UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust considers the breed to be "at risk", meaning that population numbers are estimated to be under 1,500. The Equus Survival Trust considers the breed to be "vulnerable", meaning that between 500 and 1500 active adult breeding mares are in existence today.


The Shire horse was originally the staple breed used to draw carts to deliver ale from the brewery to the public houses. A few breweries still maintain this tradition in the UK. These include the wadworth brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire, the Hook Norton Brewery, the Samuel Smith Brewery in Tadcaster, and Thwaites Brewery, which made Shire-drawn deliveries from the early 1800s to the 1920s, then resumed service in 1960, with deliveries continuing to be horse-drawn to the present day. Several breweries have recently withdrawn their Shire horse teams, including the Tetley brewery in Leeds.

Today, the breed is also used for forestry work and leisure riding.

Source - Wikipedia


Clydesdale - Origin Scotland

Breed Information

The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse named for and derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, a county in Scotland. Although originally one of the smaller breeds of draught horses, it is now a tall breed. Often bay in color, they show significant white markings due to the presence of sabino genetics. The breed was originally used for agriculture and haulage, and is still used for draught purposes today. The Budweiser Clydesdales are some of the most famous Clydesdales, and other members of the breed are used as drum horses by the British Household Cavalry. They have also been used to create and improve other breeds.

The breed was developed from Flemishstallions imported to Scotland and crossed with local mares. The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" for the breed was in 1826, and by 1830, a system of hiring stallions had begun that resulted in the spread of Clydesdale horses throughout Scotland and into northern England. The first breed registry was formed in 1877. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, thousands of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland and sent throughout the world, including to Australia and New Zealand, where they became known as "the breed that built Australia". However, during World War l, population numbers began to decline due to increasing mechanization and war conscription. This decline continued, and by the 1970s, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust

 considered the breed vulnerable to extinction. Population numbers have increased slightly in the intervening time, but they are still thought to be vulnerable.

Breed Characteristics

The conformation of the Clydesdale has changed greatly throughout its history. In the 1920s and 1930s, it was a compact horse smaller than the Shire, Percheron, and Belgian. Beginning in the 1940s, breeding animals were selected to produce taller horses that looked more impressive in parades and shows. Today, the Clydesdale stands 16 to 18 hands (64 to 72 inches, 163 to 183 cm) high and weighs 1,800 to 2,000 pounds (820 to 910 kg). Some mature males are larger, standing taller than 18 hands and weighing up to 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg). The breed has a straight or slightly convex facial profile, broad forehead, and wide muzzle. It is well muscled and strong, with an arched neck, high withers, and a sloped shoulder. Breed associations pay close attention to the quality of the hooves and legs, as well as the general movement. Their gaits are active, with clearly lifted hooves and a general impression of power and quality. Clydesdales are energetic, with a manner described by the Clydesdale Horse Society as a "gaiety of carriage and outlook". Clydesdales have been identified to be at risk for chronic progressive lymthedema, a disease with clinical signs that include progressive swelling, hyperkeratosis, and fibrosis of distal limbs that is similar to chronic lymthedema in humans. Another health concern is a skin condition on the lower leg where feathering is heavy. Colloquially called "Clyde's itch", it is thought to be caused by a type of mange. Clydesdales are also known to develop sunburn on any pink (unpigmented) skin around their faces.

Clydesdales are usually bay in colour, but a roaning pattern, black, grey, and chestnut also occur. Most have white markings, including white on the face, feet, and legs, and occasional body spotting (generally on the lower belly). They also have extensive feathering on their lower legs. Roaning, body spotting, and extensive white markings are thought to be the result of sabino genetics. Some Clydesdale breeders want white face and leg markings without the spotting on the body. To attempt getting the ideal set of markings, they often breed horses with only one white leg to horses with four white legs and sabino roaning on their bodies. On average, the result is a foal with the desired amount of white markings. Clydesdales do not have the Sabino 1 (SB1) gene responsible for causing sabino expressions in many other breeds, and researchers theorise that several other genes are responsible for these patterns. Many buyers pay a premium for bay and black horses, especially those with four white legs and white facial markings. Specific colours are often preferred over other physical traits, and some buyers even choose horses with soundness problems if they have the desired colour and markings. Roan horses are not preferred by buyers, despite one draught-breed writer theorizing that they are needed to keep the desired coat colours and texture. Breed associations, however, state that no colour is bad, and that horses with roaning and body spots are increasingly accepted.


The Clydesdale takes its name from Clydesdale, the old name for Lanarkshire, noted for the River Clyde. In the mid-18th century, Flemish stallions were imported to Scotland and bred to local mares, resulting in foals that were larger than the existing local stock. These included a black unnamed stallion imported from England by a John Paterson of Lochlyloch and an unnamed dark-brown stallion owned by the Duke of Hamilton. Another prominent stallion was a 16.1 hands (65 inches, 165 cm) coach horse stallion of unknown lineage named Blaze. Written pedigrees were kept of these foals beginning in the early 19th century, and in 1806, a filly, later known as "Lampits mare" after the farm name of her owner, was born that traced her lineage to the black stallion. This mare is listed in the ancestry of almost every Clydesdale living today. One of her foals was Thompson's Black Horse (known as Glancer), which was to have a significant influence on the Clydesdale breed. The first recorded use of the name "Clydesdale" in reference to the breed was in 1826 at an exhibition in Glasgow. Another theory of their origin, that of them descending from Flemish horses brought to Scotland as early as the 15th century, was also promulgated in the late 18th century. However, even the author of that theory admitted that the common story of their ancestry is more likely.

A system of hiring stallions between districts existed in Scotland, with written records dating back to 1837. This program consisted of local agriculture improvement societies holding breed shows to choose the best stallion, whose owner was then awarded a monetary prize. The owner was then required, in return for additional monies, to take the stallion throughout a designated area, breeding to the local mares. Through this system and by purchase, Clydesdale stallions were sent throughout Scotland and into northern England.

Through extensive crossbreeding with local mares, these stallions spread the Clydesdale type throughout the areas where they were placed, and by 1840, Scottish draught horses and the Clydesdale were one and the same. In 1877, the Clydesdale Horse Society of Scotland was formed, followed in 1879 by the American Clydesdale Association (later renamed the Clydesdale Breeders of the USA), which served both U.S. and Canadian breed enthusiasts. The first American stud book was published in 1882. In 1883, the short-lived Select Clydesdale Horse Society was founded to compete with the Clydesdale Horse Society. It was started by two breeders dedicated to improving the breed, who also were responsible in large part for the introduction of Shire blood into the Clydesdale.

Large numbers of Clydesdales were exported from Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with 1,617 stallions leaving the country in 1911 alone. Between 1884 and 1945, export certificates were issued for 20,183 horses. These horses were exported to other countries in the Bristish Empire, as well as North and South America, continental Europe, and Russia. World War l had the conscription of thousands of horses for the war effort, and after the war, breed numbers declined as farms became increasingly mechanised. This decline continued between the wars. Following World War II, the number of Clydesdale breeding stallions in England dropped from more than 200 in 1946 to 80 in 1949. By 1975, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust considered them vulnerable to extinction, meaning fewer than 900 breeding females remained in the UK.

Many of the horses exported from Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries went to Australia and New Zealand. In 1918, the Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society was formed as the association for the breed in Australia. Between 1906 and 1936, Clydesdales were bred so extensively in Australia that other draught breeds were almost unknown. By the late 1960s, it was noted that "Excellent Clydesdale horses are bred in Victoria and New Zealand; but, at least in the former place, it is considered advisable to keep up the type by frequent importations from England." Over 25,000 Clydesdales were registered in Australia between 1924 and 2008. The popularity of the Clydesdale led to it being called "the breed that built Australia".

In the 1990s, the breed's popularity and numbers began to rise. By 2005, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust had moved the breed to "at risk" status, meaning fewer than 1,500 breeding females were in the UK. However, by 2010, they had been moved back to vulnerable. The Clydesdale is considered to be at "watch" status by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy, meaning that as of 2010, fewer than 2,500 horses are registered annually in the USA and fewer than 10,000 exist worldwide. As of 2010, there are estimated to be around 5,000 Clydesdales worldwide, with around 4,000 in the US and Canada, 800 in the UK, and the rest in other countries, including Russia, Japan, Germany, and South Africa.


The Clydesdale was originally used for agriculture, hauling coal in Lanarkshire, and heavy hauling in Glasgow. Today, Clydesdales are still used for draught purposes, including agriculture, logging, and driving. They are also shown and ridden, as well as kept for pleasure. Clydesdales are known to be the popular breed choice with carriage services and parade horses because of their white, feathery feet. Along with carriage horses, Clydesdales are also used as show horses. They are shown in lead line and harness classes at county and state fairs, as well as national exhibitions. Some of the most famous members of the breed are the teams that make up the hitches of the Budweiser Clydesdales. These horses were first owned by the Budweiser Brewery at the end of Prohibition in the United States, and have since become an international symbol of both the breed and the brand. The Budweiser breeding program, with its strict standards of colour and conformation, have influenced the look of the breed in the United States to the point that many people believe that Clydesdales are always bay with white markings. Some Clydesdales are used for riding and can be shown under saddle, as well as being driven. Due to their calm disposition, they have proven to be very easy to train and capable of making exceptional trial horses. Clydesdales and Shires are used by the British Household Cavalry as drum horses, leading parades on ceremonial and state occasions. The horses are eye-catching colours, including piebald, skewbald, and roan. To be used for this purpose, a drum horse must stand a minimum of 17 hands (68 inches, 173 cm) high. They carry the Musical Ride Officer and two silver drums weighing 56 kilograms (123 lb) each.

In the late 19th century, Clydesdale blood was added to the Irish Draught breed in an attempt to improve and reinvigorate that declining breed. However, these efforts were not seen as successful, as Irish Draught breeders thought the Clydesdale blood made their horses coarser and prone to lower leg defaults. The Clydesdale was instrumental in the creation of the Gypsy Vanner Horse, developed in Great Britain. The Clydesdale, along with other draught breeds, was also used to create the Australian Draught Horse. In the early 20th century, they were often crossed with Dales Pony, creating midsized draught horses useful for pulling commercial wagons and military artillery.

Source - Wikipedia


Gypsy Cob - Origin Ireland

Breed Information

The Gypsy Cob, also known as the Irish Cob, Gypsy Horse or Gypsy Vanner, is a type or breed of domestic horse from the island of Ireland. It is a small, solidly-built horse of cob conformation and is often, but not always, piebald or skewbald; it is particularly associated with the Irish Traveller and Romani travelling peoples of Britain and Ireland. There was no stud book or breed association for horses of this type until 1996. It is now considered a breed and can be registered with a number of breed associations.

From about 1850 travelling people in the British Isles began to use a distinct type of horse to pull their vardos, the caravans in which they had just begun to live and travel. The colour and look of the breed were refined in the years after the Second World War . Horses of this type were first exported to the United States in 1996.


The Gypsy horse is usually, but not always, piebald. It may also be skewbald or any solid colour; a solid-coloured horse with white splashing on the underbelly is called "blagdon" or "splashed". There is no coat colour requirement in the breed standard of the Irish Cob Society, Gypsy Cob Register, Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, Gypsy Horse Registry of America,  or Australasian Gypsy Horse Society. Since the horse originates in the British Isles, British colour names may be used in registration in the United States.

There are many breed societies for the Gypsy horse, with mostly minor variations in their respective breed standards. The range of desired heights is generally from 13 to 16 hands (52 to 64 inches, 132 to 163 cm) in the United States and Australasia, but in Ireland and continental Europe, the desired height limit goes up to 16.2 hands (66 inches, 168 cm) for some types and they permit both lighter-boned as well as larger horses than typically desired by the American organisations. Some stud-books have different categories: The Gypsy Horse Registry of America has two height classifications: Section A for purebred horses under 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) and Section B for purebred horses 14.2 hands (58 inches, 147 cm) and over. Its Section C is for Gypsy Crossbred horses. The Netherlands stud-book for Gypsy horses, the Nederlands Stamboek voor Tinkers, identified there as the "Tinker horse," classifies horses into three groups: "cob," "vanner," and "grai," based on height in metres and degree of refinement. The cob type is approximately 14.3 to 15.1 hands (59 to 61 inches, 150 to 155 cm), and the vanner 15.1 to 16.2 hands (61 to 66 inches, 155 to 168 cm). The more refined "grai" may be of any size but is typically within the 14.3- to 16.2-hand range.

Feathering, long hair on the legs, is considered a "characteristic and decorative feature of the Irish Cob", but is not a requirement for registration.

A Gypsy Horse's facial profile should be straight, neither overly dished nor roman nosed. A "sweet" head, more refined than that of most draught horses, is desired. The GHA's breed standard states that the head may be "sweet", "a small, tidy pony type head", meaning without coarseness and in proportion with the body, but the AGHS calls unequivocally for a sweet head, "more refined than a Shire might have . . . with broad forehead, generous jaw, square muzzle, and even bite". According to GVHS, the "forehead must be flat and broad . . . with [t]he frontal facial bone . . . flat to slightly convex".

The neck is strong, muscular, and of medium length "with a throat latch slightly deeper than lighter breeds". The chest should be broad, deep, and well muscled. Withers are "well rounded, not high and fine, i.e., hardly noticeable". Most standards call for a "well-sloped" shoulder But the GVHS's standard is more precise, specifying a shoulder angle ranging from 45 degrees to 60 degrees. The backis to be short coupled with well sprung ribs and a deep heart girth. The length of line of the belly should be twice that of the topline of the back and the horse should not appear 'wasp waisted'. The Dutch breed standard for vanner and cob types requires a strong, well-muscled build with abundant feathering, similar to that of other associations. The "grai" is classified as a lighter and more refined riding type.

Strong hindquarters define the breed as a small draught horse, "designed for strength and power, but with class, presence and style." They are sometimes described as having an "apple butt" as the croup is well rounded and "very generous, smooth and broad". Poorly-muscled hindquarters or a too-sloping rump are unacceptable. The line measuring the length of the hip should also be horizontal; if the tailhead falls below the horizontal line intersecting the point of the hip, the horse's "hip/croup will be approaching too steep an angle for the Gypsy Vanner".

Bone in the legs should be heavy, clean, and flat. GVHS's standard calls for a length of forearm to cannon ratio of 55% to 45%. The front legs should be clean and flat in joints as well as bone; front pasterns should slope at the same angle as the shoulder and should not be short. A line drawn from the point of the buttock should touch the back of the hock, run "parallel" to the cannon bone, and touch the ground directly behind "the center of the heel". Pastern and hoof angles of the hindlegs are more vertical than the forelegs, usually over 50 degrees. Hooves have strong walls and a well shaped frog,round and with wide heels.

The hind legs of the Gypsy Horse should display proper angulation for a pulling horse, although not to the degree found in larger feathered draught breeds such as the modern Shire and Clydesdale. Unlike the equine confirmational flaw of cow-hockedness, where only the lower leg is turned outward, a Gypsy Horse's entire hind leg is set so as to angle outward. As a result, when the hind legs of a horse set up squarely are viewed from the rear, their cannon bones appear parallel.

The Gypsy horse has distinct gaits. According to GHA's standard, "The stride should be correct, supple, and powerful. Showing good impulsion from behind, demonstrating powerful drive. Flowing, effortless in appearance". The horse's movement should be "natural, not artificial . . . . Some have higher knee action than others, it's[sic] way of going can vary from short and economical to longer, reaching strides." GHRA's standard requires "[a] steady forward walk with impulsion. Ground covering trot with a slight flick of feather at the point of extension."

The Gypsy horse should be a "strong, kind, (very) intelligent partner that works willingly and harmoniously with its handler. They are also described as mannerly and manageable, eager to please, confident, courageous, alert, and loyal with a genuine sociable outlook. The Gypsy Horse is renowned for its gentle, tractable nature and sensible disposition."

The Gypsy Horse is prone to diseases common to feathered draught horses. The most serious of these is chronic progressive lymphedema . This condition may have a genetic component, as is a simular condition in humans. However, studies to date have not identified a causative gene. Of less concern is pastern dermatitis ("greasy heels"). The moist environment under the feathering is an ideal environment for the combination of fungus and mites which are believed to cause it.


The Gypsy Horse was bred by the Romaof Great Britain to pullthe vardoes in which they lived and travelled. The Roma had arrived in the British Isles by 1500 AD, but they did not begin to live in vardoes until around 1850. Prior to that, they travelled in tilted carts or afoot and slept either under or in these carts or in small tents. The peak usage of the Gypsy caravan occurred in the latter part of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th.

Some aspects of training, management, and characteristics of a horse used to pull a vardo are unique. For example, the horse is trained not to stop until it reaches the top of a hill; otherwise it may not be able to get started again. Training begins at a very early age with the young horse tied "with a short rope from the head to the trace-ring on the collar of the shaft-horse", and led along on the off side. An old hat is sometimes placed on a fearful horse's head so as to keep him from seeing back over the top of his blinkers at the wagon looming at his back. A horse used to pull a vardo which was a permanent home was usually in very good condition due to a combination of exercise, grazing a variety of greens in the hedgerows, and good quality care; the horse was considered part of the family. Since the family's children lived in close proximity to the horse, one having "an unreliable temper could not be tolerated".

The Gypsy Horse was also used to pull the "tradesman's cart . . . used in conjunction with the caravan as a runabout and work vehicle and whilst on a journey". This is also known as a flatbed or a trolley, and examples appear in the annual London Harness Horse Parade.

The Gypsy Horse breed as it is today is thought to have begun to take shape shortly after the Second World War. When the British Roma had first begun to live in vardoes around 1850, they used mules and cast off horses of any suitable breed to pull them. These later included coloured horses which had become unfashionable in mainstream society and were typically culled. Among these were a significant number of coloured Shire horses. Many of these ended up with Romani breeders, and by the 1950s, they were considered valuable status symbols within that culture. Spotted horses were very briefly in fashion around the time of the Second World War, but quickly went out of fashion in favour of the coloured horse, which has retained its popularity until the present day. The initial greater height of the breed derived from the influence of both Clydesdales and Shires.

In the formative years of the Gypsy Horse, the Roma bred not only for specific colour, profuse feather, and greater bone, but also for increased action and smaller size. To increase action at the trot, they first tried Hackney Pony breeding, but this blood reduced both feather and bone. The Roma therefore turned to the Section D Welsh Cob to add a more animated trot to the breed without loss of other desired traits. Another trend in breeding was a steady decrease in height, a trend still present among many Romani breeders. In the 1990s, the breed's average height still was in excess of 15 hands (60 inches, 152 cm), but horses of 14.3 to 15 hands (59 to 60 inches, 150 to 152 cm) were beginning to be viewed as more desirable, primarily for economic reasons. John Shaw, a carriage painter from Milnrow, Rochdale, Lancaster, was quoted in 1993 as saying, "Very big, hairy coloureds are now in vogue. They are status symbols . . . but they are not really an economical animal. They cost too much to feed, harness and shoe. . . and they don't stand up to the work. For that you want the vanner type of 14.3 to 15 hands (59 to 60 inches, 150 to 152 cm)"; larger horses require more fodder than smaller ones, as well as larger harnesses and horseshoes.

The breed most used by the Romani breeders to set not only the size but also the type of the future Gypsy Horse was the Dales Pony, described as "thick, strong, . . . active yet a great puller". The Dales, a draught pony, preserved the bone, feather, and pulling capabilities derived from the Shire and Clydesdale breeds but in a smaller and therefore more economical package. The Dales and, to a lesser extent, the Fell Pony interbred with the Shire and Clydesdale provided the basis of today's Gypsy Horse. 

Since the Romani people who developed the Gypsy Horse communicated pedigree and breed information orally, information on foundation bloodstock and significant horses within the breed is mostly anecdotal. The two foundation sires of the breed are reportedly known as The Old Coal Horse and Sonny Mays' Horse. It is said that The Coal Horse goes back to a grey Shire stallion known as Shaw's Grey Horse of Scotland. The origins of the breed appear to be Irish, and the name Connors appears prominently in the breed history. In a poorly recorded interview, well-respected breeder Henry Connors gives some of the lineage of the horse. It includes horses with names such as Ben's of Bonafay, Jimmy Doyle's Horse of Ballymartin, Henry Connors' White Horse, The Lob Eared Horse, The Sham Horse, and Old Henry.

The Irish cob can be traced to the 18th century but also was long considered a type, not a breed, and varied somewhat in characteristics, though generally was bred for light draught and farm work but was also capable of being ridden. It originated from crossing Thoroughbred, Connemara Pony and Irisih Draught horses.

Beginning in 1996, breed associations and societies were formed in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Among the are: the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society (1996), the Irish Cob Society (1998), the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association (2002), the Gypsy Cob Society of America, later the Gypsy Horse Registry of America (2003), the Australasian Gypsy Horse Society (2007), and the NZ Gypsy Cob Association (2012).[citation needed]

The first known Gypsy Horses to come to America arrived in 1996, imported by Dennis and Cindy Thompson, who created the Gypsy Vanner name and started a breed society.


The breed was traditionally known as the Irish Cob. It was often referred to simply as a "Cob", although the term cob defines a short-legged, stout type of horse rather than a breed. Other names are used worldwide for the breed, such as Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Vanner and Tinker Cob, alluding to its association with the travelling community.

The first known importers of the Gypsy Horse to North America, Dennis and Cindy Thompson, viewed the breed as unnamed and chose the name "vanner", calling their association the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society. A "vanner" is a light draught horse suitable for pulling a horse-drawn van or omnibus; the term dates to at least 1888. Before the formation of the American society in 1996, the word "vanner" appears in two printed sources in association with these horses. In 1979, Harvey described a Roma-owned horse as "[a] fair-sized vanner, about 15.2hh (15 1/2 hands) high, . . . [c]ross-shire, with a touch of Clydesdale? Lineage is often hard to trace." Publishing in 1993 in the first known acknowledgment of the Gypsy Horse as a distinct breed outside Romani culture, Hart employs the term three times in reference to a Gypsy Horse, identifying specific Gypsy Horses as vanners.

Founded subsequently in 1998, 2002, and 2003, respectively, the Irish Cob Society, the Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association, and the Gypsy Cob Society of America referred to the breed as "Cob", the name used by its Romani breeders. The Gypsy Horse Association, incorporated in 2008, employed the name "Gypsy Horse" and states on its website that the organisation recognizes all breed names currently in use. Also in 2008, the GCSA renamed itself the Gypsy Horse Registry of America.

Breed associations in Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands are listed in the Universal Equine Life Number database under the breed names "Tinker Horse" and "Tinker Pony."


Among the assorted associations and societies dedicated to the breed, there is some variety in services offered. The Gypsy Horse Registry of America includes size classifications in its stud book. The Gypsy Horse Association provides access to the identifying DNA markers, pedigrees (both anecdotal and DNA verified), and registration photos of most of its registered horses online and free of charge. The Gypsy Horse Association and the Gypsy Horse Registry of America provide online stud-books. The Gypsy Vanner Horse Society provides access to its stud-book for a fee. The Gypsy Cob and Drum Horse Association offers inspections and some shows.

Since registration for the Gypsy Horse has only existed within the last 20 years, most associations require a genetic analysis for registration, to verify identity and identify future offspring. All of the North American Gypsy Horse and Drum Horse societies employ the Animal Genetics Research Laboratory of the University of Kentucky to perform DNA analysis and maintain a database of registered horses' DNA markers. UKY currently tests markers at 17 loci of a horse's genetic makeup. The aim of this analysis is to either exclude or fail to exclude another horse as a parent. In a spirit of co-operation, five American breed societies have jointly granted the University of Kentucky permission to employ DNA markers in confirming parentage.[clarifaction needed] Since information regarding the past histories, including parentage, of many of the Gypsy Horses imported to North America was lost, many owners seek to reclaim the genetic roots of their animals, and services have sprung up to satisfy this desire.

Because many of the horses submitted for registration have never been registered, the American organisations evaluate horses for registration by way of photos and provenance information such as import papers and bills of sale.

Beginning in 2014, GVHS began restricting registration to horses sired by GVHS-registered stallions and out of mares whose DNA markers are available and confirm parentage. Only horses falling between 13 and 16 hands (52 and 64 inches, 132 and 163 cm) in height are eligible for registration, although the status of animals whose heights fall outside that range can be appealed to GVHS's board of directors.

The Netherlands stud book only allows full registration to offspring of horses previously registered with the NSvT; horses identified as Irish Cob, Gypsy Cob, Gypsy Vanner, Coloured Horse, Traveller Pony, Black and White, or Traditional Cob may be evaluated as potential breeding stock and, if suitable, recorded in a secondary register, with their offspring eligible for full registration. Horses must pass an inspection to be registered. The Irish Cob Society also requires an inspection process. The Gypsy Cob Register of the UK & Ireland, a registry run by the Travelling Community, has a DNA database and requires breeding stallions to have a DNA profile.


Gypsy Cobs are shown and traded at traditional horse fairs, of which the Appleby Horse Fair is the largest in Europe. Many Travellers and Romani travel to the fair in traditional horse-drawn caravans and vardos. American photographer John S. Hockensmith documented such a journey in 2004, travelling with and photographing the Harker family's 60-mile (97 km) journey to Appleby in bow-top living wagons. Capstick and Donogue also published photographs taken at Appleby Fair, some vintage, and Jones published photos taken at Yorkshire horse fairs, some from the early 1900s.

In North America, the first known show classes dedicated to the Gypsy Horse were held at the Colorado Horse Park on 28–29 August 2004, during its annual draught horse show, employing the breed standard of the Gypsy Cob Society of America, now the Gypsy Horse Registry of America. The first Gypsy breed show, the Ohio State Fair Gypsy Vanner Horse Show, sponsored by the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, was held in 2005 in Columbus, Ohio. Currently there are a number of breed shows for the Gypsy Horse in the US and Canada.

In the United States, the Gypsy Horse is used in many equestrian sports, by amateurs and youths. In 2004, the United States Dressage Federation accepted the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society as an affiliate member,allowing horses registered with GVHS to compete in its dressage and dressage-related events. The Gypsy Horse Association was accepted into the USDF programme in 2008; two other coloured horse associations had joined by 2011.

Source - Wikipedia

Indian River of Mountain Park - owned by Mountain Park Gypsy Cobs

Indian River of Mountain Park - owned by Mountain Park Gypsy Cobs

Percheron - Origin Huisne River Valley, France

Breed Information

The Percheron is a breed of draft horse that originated in the Huisne river valley in western France, part of the former Perche province from which the breed takes its name. Usually gray or black in color, Percherons are well muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. Although their exact origins are unknown, the ancestors of the breed were present in the valley by the 17th century. They were originally bred for use as war horses. Over time, they began to be used for pulling stagecoaches and later for agriculture and hauling heavy goods. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Arabian blood was added to the breed. Exports of Percherons from France to the United States and other countries rose exponentially in the late 19th century, and the first purely Percheron stud book was created in France in 1883.

Before World War I, thousands of Percherons were shipped from France to the United States, but after the war began, an embargo stopped shipping. The breed was used extensively in Europe during the war, with some horses being shipped from the US back to France to help in the war effort. Beginning in 1918, Percherons began to be bred in Great Britain, and in 1918 the British Percheron Horse Society was formed. After a series of name and studbook ownership changes, the current US Percheron registry was created in 1934. In the 1930s, Percherons accounted for 70 percent of the draft horse population in the United States, but their numbers declined substantially after World War II. However, the population began to recover and as of 2009, around 2,500 horses were registered annually in the United States alone. The breed is still used extensively for draft work, and in France they are used for food. They have been crossed with several light horse breeds to produce horses for range work and competition. Purebred Percherons are used for forestry work and pulling carriages, as well as work under saddle, including competition in English riding disciplines such as show jumping.


The size considered ideal for the Percheron varies between countries. In France, height ranges from 15.1 to 18.1 hands (61 to 73 inches, 155 to 185 cm) and weight from 1,100 to 2,600 pounds (500 to 1,200 kg). Percherons in the United States generally stand between 16.2 and 17.3 hands (66 and 71 inches, 168 and 180 cm), with a range of 15–19 hands (60–76 inches, 152–193 cm). American Percherons average 1,900 pounds (860 kg), and their top weight is around 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg). In Great Britain, 16.2 hands (66 inches, 168 cm) is the shortest acceptable height for stallions and 16.1 hands (65 inches, 165 cm) for mares, while weights range from around 2,000–2,200 pounds (910–1,000 kg) for stallions and 1,800–2,000 pounds (820–910 kg) for mares. They are generally gray or black in coloring, although the American registry also allows the registration of roan, bay and chestnut horses. Only gray or black horses may be registered in France and Britain. Many horses have white markings on their heads and legs, but registries consider excessive white to be undesirable.

The head has a straight profile, broad forehead, large eyes and small ears. The chest is deep and wide and the croup long and level. The feet and legs are clean and heavily muscled. The overall impression of the Percheron is one of power and ruggedness. Enthusiasts describe the temperament as proud and alert, and members of the breed are considered intelligent, willing workers with good dispositions. They are considered easy keepers and adapt well to many conditions and climates. In the 19th century, they were known to travel up to 60 kilometres (37 mi) a day at a trot. Horses in the French registry are branded on the neck with the intertwined letters "SP", the initials of the Société Hippique Percheronne.


The Percheron breed originated in the Huisne river valley in France, which arises in Orne, part of the former Perche province, from which the breed gets its name. Several theories have been put forth as to the ancestry of the breed, though its exact origins are unknown. One source of foundation bloodstock may have been mares captured by Clovis l from the Bretons some time after 496 AD, and another may have been Arabian stallions brought to the area by Muslim invaders in the 8th century. Other possibilities are captured Moorish cavalry horses from the Battle of Poitiers in 732 AD, some of which were taken by warriors from Perche. A final theory posits that the Percheron and the Boulonnais breed are closely related, and that the Boulonnais influenced the Percheron when they were brought to Brittany as reinforcements for the legions of Caeser. It is known that during the 8th century, Arabian stallions were crossed with mares native to the area, and more Oriental horse blood was introduced by the Comte du Perche upon his return from the Crusades and expeditions into territory claimed by Spain. Blood from Spanish breeds was added when Rotrou lll imported horses from Castile. No matter the theory of origin, breed historians agree that the terrain and climate of the Perche area had the greatest influence on the development of the breed. A possible reference to the horse is made in the 13th-century romance Guillaume de Dole, in which the title character asks for "the Count of Perche's horse" to be made ready, possibly indicating the "'great horse,' which could accommodate an armored knight" and was bred in the geographical setting of the poem.

During the 17th century, horses from Perche, the ancestors of the current Percheron, were smaller, standing between 15 and 16 hands (60 and 64 inches, 152 and 163 cm) high, and more agile. These horses were almost uniformly gray; paintings and drawings from the Middle Ages generally show French knights on mounts of this color. After the days of the armoured knight, the emphasis in horse breeding was shifted so as to develop horses better able to pull heavy stage coaches at a fast trot. Gray horses were preferred because their light coloring was more visible at night. This new type of horse was called the "Diligence Horse", because the stage coaches they pulled were named "diligences". After the stage coach was replaced by rail, the modern Percheron type arose as a slightly heavier horse for use in agriculture and heavy hauling work moving goods from docks to railway terminals.

19th Century

Arabian stallions were made available to Percheron breeders for use in breeding army mounts, beginning in 1760 at the royal stud at Le Pin. Between 1789 and the early 1800s, the Percheron was in danger of becoming extinct as horse breeding was suppressed during the French Revolution and its aftermath. Early histories of the breed point to two gray Arabian stallions from Le Pin, Godolphin and Gallipoly, as the blood that helped to restart Percheron breeding. However, later research found that Godolphin was a chestnut Arabian of ordinary conformation and no special worth, while Gallipoly was a gray saddle horse of unknown breeding. Modern breed historians contest that there was enough breeding stock left after the early 19th century to restart the breed without further Arabian influence, and state that it is unlikely that two horses of unremarkable breeding and conformation had a significant influence on the breed. Jean le Blanc, a founding stallion of the Percheron breed, was foaled in 1823. Today, all Percherons trace their ancestry to this stallion. At this time the breed also became larger, with horses from other French districts being imported to Perche to change the Percheron from a coach horse averaging 1,200–1,400 pounds (540–640 kg) to a draft horse averaging 2,000 pounds (910 kg). In 1893, the first Percheron stud book was created in France. By 1910, French registrations had risen to almost 32,000 horses. Between 1880 and 1920, Percheron breeders in France exported horses all over the world, including South Africa, South America, Australia and North America.

In the United States and Great Britain

Percherons were first imported into the United States in 1839, although only one of the initial four horses survived the ocean trip. Soon after, two stallions and two mares were imported; one mare died shortly after arrival and one stallion went blind and was retired within a year. Although the first importations of Percherons were less than successful, the remaining stallion, named Diligence, was credited with siring almost 400 foals. In 1851, three stallions were imported: Normandy 351, Louis Napoleon 281 and Gray Billy. Throughout their stud careers, each had significant influence on American draft horse stock. In the mid-19th century in the United States, Percheron stallions were crossed with homebred mares to improve the local stock, resulting in thousands of crossbred horses. After the American Civil War in the 1860s greatly reduced the number of horses, there was a significant need for large draft horses, especially in growing cities and in the expanding West. Large numbers of Percherons were imported to the United States beginning in the early 1870s, and they became popular with draft horse breeders and owners. In the 1880s, approximately 7,500 horses were exported to the United States. This extensive importation lasted until 1893, when the US experienced a financial panic, and virtually no Percheron imports occurred between 1894 and 1898. In addition, many existing horses were lost as people were too poor to purchase or care for large draft horses. In 1898, importations began again as abruptly as they had ceased, with an average of 700 horses a year imported between 1898 and 1905. In 1906 alone, over 13,000 horses were imported to the United States from France. In the American travelling circuses of the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Percheron was the most frequently seen draft horse. Drivers appreciated the breed's agility, stamina and quick-footed gait.

In 1876, the Norman-Percheron Association was formed by a group of Percheron breeders in Chicago, and at the same time the stud book was begun. The Norman-Percheron Association was the United States' first purebred livestock association. In 1877, the word "Norman" was dropped from the name. Later, in the panic of 1893, the Percheron Association went bankrupt and ceased to function. In 1905, also in Chicago, Percheron breeders met again to reform as the Percheron Society of America. Since 1934, the group has been known as the Percheron Horse Association of America. At its height, the organization was the largest draft horse association in the world, in the early 20th century registering over 10,000 horses annually.

In the late 19th century, Percherons also began to be exported from the United States to Great Britain, where they were used to pull horse-drawn buses in large cities. The first Percherons imported to Britain included some of the thousands of crossbreds from the United States. In Britain, many of the horses, once they finished their bus-pulling career, were sold to farmers. Other imported horses were sold to the British Army, and in 1900, 325 horses were shipped to South Africa for use in the Boer War.

20th and 21st Centuries

In 1911, the French society restricted registration to horses with both parents already registered with the society. In the early 20th century, the Percheron was one of the four major draft horse breeds, along with the Belgian, the Clydesdale and the Shire. Breeders could sell their horses for significant amounts of money, especially in the United States and Canada, where breeding stock brought a premium price.

Prior to World War I, a flourishing trade route for Percherons existed between Nogent-le-Rotrou, Le Havre and the United States. However, after the war began, an embargo was placed on French Percherons, disallowing them from exportation. Other than an exception in April 1916 to allow 59 horses to be shipped from France to the US, this embargo remained in place until the end of the war. The war took its toll on the Percheron breed as horses, fodder, and handlers were requisitioned for the fighting, and even after the embargo was lifted France did not have the quality or quantity of stock to fulfill the needs of American breeders. The embargo created a breeding boom in the US, replacing the previous practice of importing the majority of Percherons from France, and late in the war horses were shipped the other way – from the US to Europe – to supply those needed in the war. The lack of feathering on the Percheron's lower legs made them easier to care for in the mud that they often worked in during wartime. Their quick trot on paved roads made them more versatile than motorized vehicles, and they were useful for work with guns and in forward units due to their calm temperaments.

Between 1918 and 1922, over 350 Percherons were imported to Britain from France and, combined with stock from the US and Canada, were used as breeding stock to establish the breed in the country. In 1918, the British Percheron Horse Society was formed. British breeders and owners continue to import Percherons from France, and also occasionally from Canada, when not prohibitively expensive.

By the 1930s, Percherons accounted for over 70 percent of the purebred draft horses in the United States, and all of the major land-grant universities maintained stables of Percherons. A 1930 census of horses found over 33,000 Percherons in the United States, with the next most popular breed, the Belgian, having a population of less than 10,000. One Percheron historian attributes this popularity to the breed's "strength, energy, activity, robustness and endurance". After World War II, increasing mechanization prompted a decline in the Percheron population. In 1954, only 85 Percherons were registered in the US, a record low. The 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s were bad years for the US Percheron population, and breeding was reduced to only a few farms. These breeders kept the American population alive through these years, however, and the 1980s saw renewed interest in the breed.

In 1966, the French stud book was changed to include draft types from other areas of France that were closely related to the Percheron – including the horses of Berrichon, Nivernais, Marne, Augeron, Bourbonnais, Loire and Saone-et-Loire. French Percherons were also hit hard by the advent of mechanization, and between 1970 and 1990 focus was placed on breeding horses of greater mass for the meat market. The largest and heaviest stallions were selected for breeding. Beginning at the 1989 World Percheron Congress, French breeders realized that they needed a lighter breed for tourism, export to Japan for draft work, and other markets. In 1993, a trend of importing American stallions to France was started with the black stallion Silver Shadows Sheik. This stallion and others were used to create a more elegant, smaller and sleeker look in the French Percheron, while still retaining the traditional bone and foot structure. All the imported stallions were black, reviving the popularity of black Percherons in France. French breeders continue to import American-bred Percheron stallions in order to produce lighter foals, moving away from the heavier meat-type horses of the late 20th century. Also in 1993, the Société Hippique Percheronne anticipated the increasing tourist and exportation markets by prohibiting docking, which was not prohibited for other draft breeds until 1996. This was partly at the request of the Germans, and partly due to the influence of magazines such as Cheval.

In 1988, there were 1,088 Percherons in the United States, rising to 2,257 by 1998. As of 2009, the Percheron Horse Association of America had horses registered in all 50 states, and had nearly 3,000 members, with around 2,500 new horses being registered annually. The French Société Hippique Percheronne de France (Percheron Horse Society of France) registered between 750 and 885 horses in each year between 2007 and 2010. As of 2012, the American Breed Livestock Conservancy considers the Percheron to be "recovering", meaning that the breed has exceeded the numbers required to be in one of the "watch" categories, but still needs to be monitored.


The Augeron, also known as Caen or Virois, was developed from the Percheron during the 19th century and was merged back into the Percheron in the 1960s. Bred mainly in the Pays d'Auge region, it previously had its own studbook, registered by the Société hippique du trait augeron. The status of the subtype has been repeatedly debated because of its origin from Percherons bred in Pays d'Auge, a breeding group that was modified from the original breed standard due to the influence of soil and climate over the years, creating the Augeron type.Augerons are light gray in color, tall, strong, well-built, and energetic. They stand 158–170 cm (15.2–16.3 hands) in height, but those horses bred in Vire are known to be smaller than the standard.

In the 19th century, the existence of the Augeron population was, despite its popularity, generally ignored by authors. In Paris, they were named "Caen" and "Virois", after their region of origin, although specialists included the "Caen Virois" breed with the Augeron in a 1904 text. In the 19th century, these horses were sold at fairs in Argences and Bayeux in Lower Normandy. They were noticed several times for their homogeneity, beauty, and high value. In 1858, Augerons were sold for between 600 and 1200 francs.

The Société hippique du trait augeron, or Augeron Horse Society, was formed in 1913 by breeders in Auge to record these horses in a breed registry. One reason for this lay in the desire to protect the cradle of breeding Percheron horses: only animals born near the Perche were entitled to registration in the studbook, and hence to use the name of "Percheron". This limitation excluded several nearby populations of horses foaled outside of Perche, such as the Maine and the Augeron.


The Percheron is the most famous and populous of all French draft breeds in the world today. They were used to improve both the Ardennes and Vladimir Heavy Draft horses, and to create the Spanish- Norman breed, a cross between the Andalusian and the Percheron. By the end of the 19th century, Percherons made up the majority of driving horses in Paris. The Percheron is still used extensively for draft work and, like other draft breeds, it is also used in France for meat production. Around the world, Percherons are used for parades, sleigh rides and hayrides, as well as being used to pull carriages in large cities. The largest team of working Percherons in Europe is found at Disneyland Paris, where the breed makes up 30 percent of the horses in the park and the horses work to pull trams on the main park street. One of the most famous horse teams in the United States is the Heinz hitch of Percherons, having appeared multiple times at the Tournament of Roses Parade.

In Great Britain, the Percheron is used for advertising and publicity, as well as forestry and farm work. They are crossbred with lighter horses by breeders of heavy hunters in order to increase size and improve disposition. Purebred Percherons are also ridden, and some have proven useful at show jumping. Crossbred Percherons have been used successfully in dressage. In both the Falkland Islands and northern Australia, Percherons have been crossed with local mares, primarily Criollos in the Falklands, to produce larger stock horses with greater stamina. These crossbred horses are used extensively in both the sub-Antarctic climate of the Falklands and the sub-tropical climate of Australia for working stock. In Australia they are also crossed with Thoroughbreds for use as mounted police horses.

In 1978, the first World Percheron Congress was held in Great Britain, and has been held annually ever since. Although the majority of the shows have been held in North America, four – in 1980, 1989, 2001 and 2011 – have been held in France. Each year, in July, the French national breed show is held in Haras du Pin.

Source - Wikipedia

Cobigan Quartze  owned & exhibited by Macy Morris

Cobigan Quartze owned & exhibited by Macy Morris

Drum - Origin

Breed Information

Coming soon!

F2 Drum Stallion - Alexandra The Great PRR

F2 Drum Stallion - Alexandra The Great PRR

Irish Draught - Origin Ireland

Breed Information

The Irish Draught horse is the national horse breed of Ireland which developed primarily for farm use. Today, they are especially popular for crossing with Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, producing the popular Irish Sport Horses (also called Irish Draught Sport Horses) which excel at the highest levels of eventing and show jumping. 


References to the Irish Draught date back as far as the 18th century. It is believed that the breed was developed when the then-common Irish Hobby was successively bred with 12th century Anglo-Norman war horses, Iberian breeds from the 16th century Spanish Armada shipwrecks, Clydesdale  and Thoroughbred stallions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and local Connemara ponies. Crossbreeding with Clydesdales, which were used in some areas for heavier haulage, resulted in a taller animal, but at the cost of stamina and conformation; these qualities were negated by the introduction of Thoroughbred blood.

The Irish Draught was bred to be an all-round working horse, suitable for draft work, under harness and under saddle. There was also a need for Irish Draughts to be economical to keep, and this was achieved by grazing throughout the summer and supplementing their feed with chopped foraged gorse, boiled turnip and leftover cattle feed.

Irish Draught Horse pedigrees had been recorded since at least the start of the 20th century, when the government introduced registration for stallions and mares in 1907 and 1911 respectively, subject to inspections of the animals, and offering subsidies towards this. The stud book was opened by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1917, establishing a foundation stock of 375 mares and 44 stallions. The original stud book records, however, were lost in the fire of the Four Courts in 1922. Their use in the Great War in the allied military led to large losses, and the mechanization of the 20th century saw a decline in their traditional use as farm and carriage horses. Large numbers were sent to the slaughterhouse and abroad for use in breeding.


In 1976, the Irish Draught Horse Society was founded to preserve the breed, with an external branch in Great Britain emerging in 1979. A horse board, Bord na gCapall, was also founded in 1976 (later resurrected as the Irish Horse Board in 1993), in order to promote the breeding and use of horses other than Thoroughbreds in the country. In 2008, control of the Irish Horse Register, which contains the registry of both the Irish Draught and Irish Sport Horse, was handed from the Irish Horse Board to Horse Sport Ireland. In November of the same year, the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association was formed by members of the Irish Draught Horse Society. Increased interest in the breed internationally has led to the formation of Irish Draught societies and registries in many countries, including Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. In 2011 and 2012, the representative bodies of Ireland, Great Britain and Canada agreed to harmonize their breed standard and inspection criteria.

It is the Irish Draught's popularity as a foundation animal for the production of sport horses that has put the breed at risk a second time. Many Irish Draught mares never produce a purebred replacement for the herd. Aggressive selection for show jumping characteristics has degraded the foundation stock, and inbreeding to a few popular performance bloodlines has further endangered the genetic diversity of the breed. The Irish Draught is considered an "endangered maintained" breed by the Food and Agriculture Committee of the United Nations. In 2009, the breed was upgraded to the "Watch" category on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy's Rare Breed Conservation Priority List. The Irish Draught Horse Society of Ireland, with support from the Royal Dublin Society and technical assistance from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, have spearheaded research into a breeding plan to improve genetic diversity, and to maintain the traditional breed traits that are the defining characteristics of the Irish Draught breed.

In an attempt to guide breeders in producing healthier progeny, annual inspections of adult horses listed on the studbook were introduced by Horse Sport Ireland, with other registries later following suit. These inspections are used to produce a linear profile which is included in each studbook entry, and identifies areas in which the animal may deviate from the standard, so as to help in determining the animal's suitability for breeding. A 4-tier classification system was also introduced in place of a pass/fail system, in order to list animals on the studbook that do not meet the breed standard, with an aim to improve the genetic diversity of the breed. There is also a supplementary section in the Horse Sport Ireland studbook in order to recognise horses which may be primarily registered as Irish Sport Horses, but conform to the standard of the Irish Draught.


The breed standard is defined in each country by the respective registry, although there have been efforts to harmonize standards between countries. The breed standard defined by the Irish Draught Horse Breeders Association, and followed by the equivalent organization of Great Britain and Canada, states that "The Irish Draught Horse is a versatile, powerful and athletic animal with substance and quality. It has a pleasant head, good bone and a short shin, good spring of rib, strong loins and hindquarters and an active powerful stride. Known for its good temperament, docility and willing nature, it has a robust constitution and is inherently sound. The Irish Draught horse is a foundation breed that, when crossed with other breeds, will produce all types of leisure and performance horses."

The breed should ideally be between 158 centimetres (15.2 hands; 62 in) and 170 centimetres (16.3 hands; 67 in), with leg bone strong, clean and flat, measuring about 23 centimetres (9.1 in).

Approximately 23cms [sic] (9 inches) of strong, clean, flat bone. The ideal head is not coarse, wide at the forehead with good width between the jaw bones and "kind" eyes. The neck has good length and should be well conformed. Withers are well-defined. Hooves should be hard, sound and not boxy, overlarge or flat. The heartgirth is deep, the hindquarters are long and gently sloping. Movement should be active, strong, straight and free, not heavy or ponderous, with good flexion and freedom in the shoulders. Most solid colours are acceptable, including bay, brown, grey, chestnut, black and dun. Excessive white markings are not desirable.


The Irish Draught studbook in many countries does not admit animals on a pass or fail basis; instead, animals are invited to undergo an inspection which assesses the athleticism, movement and conformation in order to determine how closely they match the standard, after which they are classified according to a 4-tier system.

  • Class 1 horses have both passed the official veterinary examination and met the breed standard criteria.
  • Class 2 horses do not meet the breed standard, but have passed the official veterinary examination. The offspring of a Class 2 horse is eligible for inspection to be upgraded to Class 1.
  • Class 3 horses have failed the official veterinary examination, and are not recommended for breeding. Their progeny are not eligible for upgrading.
  • Class 4 horses have not yet been examined, and could meet either of the other classification standards upon examination. Their progeny are not eligible for upgrading.


Irish Draughts are commonly crossbred with Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods to produce high-quality sport horses. This cross is termed the Irish Sport Horse (or Irish Draught Sport Horse in the US). Demand for the Irish Sport Horse has led to a thriving export of horses for use in competition. The purebred Irish Draught is also popular in eventing, showing and as a hunter, as well as police mounts due to their temperament and strength.

Source - Wikipedia


Belgian Draught - Origin Belgium

Breed Information

The Belgian horse or Belgian draft horse, also known as Belgian Heavy Horse, Brabançon, or Brabant, is a draft horse breed from the Brabant region of modern Belgium, where it is called the Cheval de trait belge or Flemish: Belgisch Trekpaard or Brabants Trekpaard or Brabander. It is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds. The breed associations are the Société Royale Le Cheval de Trait Belge/ Koninklijke Maatschappij het Belgisch Trekpaard and the Eleveurs Wallons du Cheval de Trait Belge/ Vlaamse Fokkers van het Belgisch Trekpaard. 


The Belgian Heavy Draft horse stands between 16.2 and 17 hands (66 and 68 inches, 168 and 173 cm). On average the Belgian grows to weigh slightly over 900 kilograms (2,000 pounds). Most American Belgians are a light chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. The head is relatively small and well-shaped. American Belgians in North America are not as large as the European Brabant but are of a similar build. Currently, the world's tallest horse is a Belgian Draft horse named Big Jake, a gelding born in 2000. He stands 20.2 3⁄4 hands (82.75 inches, 210 cm) tall.

The world's largest Belgian Draft was named Brooklyn Supreme. He weighed 3,200 lb (1,451 kg) and stood at 19.2 hands (78 inches, 198 cm).

Belgians have a high occurrence of junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB), an inherited genetic disorder that causes newborn foals to lose large areas of skin and have other abnormalities, normally resulting in euthanasia. A study conducted in 2001–2003 found that 17.1% of tested Belgians in the US and Canada were carriers, including 13.5% of stallions and 28.9% of mares. If carriers are not mated, JEB can be avoided, and scientists are studying the disease further in the hope of completely eliminating it. The US Belgian breed registry requires JEB testing. Belgians have also been identified to be at risk for chronic progressive lymphedema, a chronic progressive disease that includes symptoms of progressive swelling, hyperkeratosis and fibrosis of distal limbs. The disease is similar to chronic lymphedema in humans.

Breed History

Historically, it is theoretically possible the Belgian may have had ancestors that were destriers in the Middle Ages, although no independent evidence supports this claim. The foundation stock for the Belgian was originally known as the Brabant. Other names for essentially the same breed include the Cheval de trait Belge, Brabançon, and Belgisch Trekpaard. Until the 1940s, the Belgian and the Brabant were essentially the same breed. Following World War II, the Brabant in Europe was selectively bred to be thicker bodied and heavier, while in the United States, the Belgian was bred to be somewhat taller and lighter bodied. The main use was as a farm horse. Closely related breeds include the Trait Du Nord and Nederlands Trekpaard.

In 1887, the American Association of Importers and Breeders of Belgian Draft Horses was founded in Wabash, Indiana, to register and keep track of all Belgian Draft Horses. Today, the Belgian is the most numerous breed of draft horse in the United States.

Importation of Belgians to the United States ended in bulk after the beginning of the Second World War with Erwin F. Dygert transporting the last Belgians out of Europe as the war was beginning.[dubious - discuss]


Belgians are still used as working animals, but have also become popular as show horses, and pleasure riding horses. The Brabant and related breeds remaining in Belgium today are also desirable for horse meat, producing a tender meat that is considered a delicacy.

Belgian horses are able to pull tremendous weights. At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, a team of two horses in the Heavyweight class pulled 17,000 pounds a distance of 7 ft 2 in (7,700 kg a distance of 2.18 m). The team of Belgians weighed 4,800 pounds (2,200 kg). At the Iowa State fair, the heavyweight champions in the pulling contest pulled 14,600 pounds the complete distance of 15 ft (6,690 kg, 4.6 m). The team consisted of one Belgian and one Percheron and weighed 3,600 pounds (1,600 kg).[citation needed]

Source - Wikipedia


Suffolk Punch - Origin England

Breed Information

The Suffolk Horse, also historically known as the Suffolk Punch or Suffolk Sorrel, is an English breed of draught horse. The breed takes the first part of its name from the county of Suffolk in East Anglia, and the name "Punch" from its solid appearance and strength. It is a heavy draught horse which is always chestnut in colour, traditionally spelled "chesnut" by the breed registries. Suffolk Punches are known as good doers, and tend to have energetic gaits.

The breed was developed in the early 16th century, and remains similar in phenotype to its founding stock. The Suffolk Punch was developed for farm work, and gained popularity during the early 20th century. However, as agriculture became increasingly mechanised, the breed fell out of favour, particularly from the middle part of the century, and almost disappeared completely. Although the breed's status is listed as critical by the UK Rare Breeds Survival Trust and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, a resurgence in interest has occurred, and population numbers are increasing. The breed pulled artillery and non-motorised commercial vans and buses, as well as being used for farm work. It was also exported to other countries to upgrade local equine stock. Today, they are used for draught work, forestry and advertising.


Suffolk Punches generally stand 16.1 to 17.2 hands (65 to 70 inches, 165 to 178 cm), weigh 1,980 to 2,200 pounds (900 to 1,000 kg), and are always chestnut in colour. The traditional spelling, still used by the Suffolk Horse Society, is "chesnut" (with no "t" in the middle of the word). Horses of the breed come in many different shades of chestnut, ranging from dark to red to light. Suffolk horse breeders in the UK use several different colour terms specific to the breed, including dark liver, dull dark, red, and bright. White markings are rare and generally limited to small areas on the face and lower legs. Equestrian author Marguerite Henry described the breed by saying, "His color is bright chestnut – like a tongue of fire against black field furrows, against green corn blades, against yellow wheat, against blue horizons. Never is he any other color."

The Suffolk Punch tends to be shorter but more massively built than other British heavy draught breeds, such as the Clydesdale or the Shire, as a result of having been developed for agricultural work rather than road haulage. The breed has a powerful, arching neck; well-muscled, sloping shoulders; a short, wide back; and a muscular, broad croup. Legs are short and strong, with broad joints; sound, well-formed hooves; and little or no feathering on the fetlocks. The movement of the Suffolk Punch is said to be energetic, especially at the trot. The breed tends to mature early and be long-lived, and is economical to keep, needing less feed than other horses of similar type and size. They are hard workers, said to be willing to "pull a heavily laden wagon till [they] dropped."

In the past, the Suffolk was often criticised for its poor feet, having hooves that were too small for its body mass. This was corrected by the introduction of classes at major shows in which hoof conformation and structure were judged. This practice, unique among horse breeds, resulted in such an improvement that the Suffolk Punch is now considered to have excellent foot conformation.


The Suffolk Punch registry is the oldest English breed society. The first known mention of the Suffolk Punch is in William Camden's Britannia, published in 1586, in which he describes a working horse of the eastern counties of England that is easily recognisable as the Suffolk Punch. This description makes them the oldest breed of horse that is recognisable in the same form today. A detailed genetic study shows that the Suffolk Punch is closely genetically grouped not only with the Fell and Dales British ponies, but also with the European Haflinger. They were developed in Norfolk and Suffolk in the east of England, a relatively isolated area. The local farmers developed the Suffolk Punch for farm work, for which they needed a horse with power, stamina, health, longevity, and docility, and they bred the Suffolk to comply with these needs. Because the farmers used these horses on their land, they seldom had any to sell, which helped to keep the bloodlines pure and unchanged.

The foundation shire of the modern Suffolk Punch breed was a 15.2 hands (62 inches, 157 cm) stallion foaled near Woodbridge in 1768 and owned by Thomas Crisp of Ufford. At this time, the breed was known as the Suffolk Sorrel. This horse was never named, and is simply known as "Crisp's horse". Although it is commonly (and mistakenly) thought that this was the first horse of the breed, by the 1760s, all other male lines of the breed had died out, resulting in a genetic bottleneck. Another bottleneck occurred in the late 18th century.

In 1784, the breed was described as "15 hands (60 inches, 152 cm) high, short and compact with bony legs, often light sorrel in color, gentle, tractable, strong" and with "shoulders loaded with flesh". During its development, the breed was influenced by the Norfolk Trotter, Norfolk Cob, and later the Thoroughbred. The uniform colouring derives in part from a small trotting stallion named Blakes Farmer, foaled in 1760. Other breeds were crossbred in an attempt to increase the size and stature of the Suffolk Punch, as well as to improve the shoulders, but they had little lasting influence, and the breed remains much as it was before any crossbreeding took place. The Suffolk Horse Society, formed in Britain in 1877 to promote the Suffolk Punch, published its first stud book in 1880. The first official exports of Suffolks to Canada took place in 1865. In 1880, the first Suffolks were imported into the United States, with more following in 1888 and 1903 to begin the breeding of Suffolk Punches in the US. The American Suffolk Horse Association was established and published its first stud book in 1907. By 1908, the Suffolk had also been exported from England to Spain, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Sweden, various parts of Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and other countries.

By the time of the First World War, the Suffolk Punch had become a popular workhorse on large farms in East Anglia due to its good temperament and excellent work ethic. It remained popular until the Second World War, when a combination of the need for increased wartime food production (which resulted in many horses being sent to the slaughterhouse), and increased farm mechanisation which followed the war-decimated population numbers.Only nine foals were registered with the Suffolk Horse Society in 1966, but a revival of interest in the breed has occurred since the late 1960s, and numbers have risen continuously. The breed did remain rare, and in 1998, only 80 breeding mares were in Britain, producing around 40 foals per year. In the United States, the American Suffolk Horse Association became inactive after the war and remained so for 15 years, but restarted in May 1961 as the draught-horse market began to recover. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the American registry allowed some Belgians to be bred to Suffolk Punches, but only the fillies from these crosses were permitted registry with the American Suffolk Horse Association.

As of 2001, horses bred with American bloodlines were not allowed to be registered with the British Association, and the breed was considered the rarest horse breed in the United Kingdom. Although the Suffolk Punch population has continued to increase, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of the UK considers their survival status critical, in 2011, between 800 and 1,200 horses were in the United States and around 150 were in England. The American Breeds Livestock Conservancy also lists the breed as critical. The Suffolk Horse Society recorded the births of 36 purebred foals in 2007, and a further 33 foals as of March 2008. By 2016, about 300 Suffolk Punches were in the UK with 30 to 40 purebred foals being born annually.


The Suffolk Punch was used mainly for draught work on farms but was also often used to pull heavy artillery in wartime. Like other heavy horses, they were also used to pull non-motorised vans and other commercial vehicles. Today, they are used for commercial forestry operations, for other draught work, and in advertising. They are also used for crossbreeding, to produce heavy sport horses for use in hunter and show jumping competition. As a symbol of the county in which they are based, Ipswich Town F.C. incorporate a Suffolk Punch as a dominant part of their team crest.

The Suffolk Punch contributed significantly to the creation of the Jutland breed in Denmark. Oppenheimer LXII, a Suffolk Punch imported to Denmark in the 1860s by noted Suffolk dealer Oppenheimer of Hamburg, was one of the founding stallions of the Jutland. Oppenheimer specialised in selling Suffolk Punches, importing them to the Mecklenburg Stud in Germany. The stallion Oppenheimer founded the Jutland breed's most important bloodline, through his descendant Oldrup Munkedal. Suffolks were also exported to Pakistan in the 20th century, to be used in upgrading native breeds, and they have been crossed with Pakistani horses and donkeys to create army remounts and mules. Suffolks have adapted well to the Pakistani climate, despite their large size, and the programme has been successful. The Vladimir Heavy Draught, a draught breed from the former USSR, is another which has been influenced by the Suffolk.

Source - Wikipedia


Tori - Origin Estonia

Breed Information

 The Tori (Estonian: tori hobune) is a horse originating in continental Estonia. 


The Tori comes mainly in the colors black, bay, palomino, chestnut and liver chestnut. Today's Tori is a harness horse that has a clean and solid build. It has a large to medium-sized head, a shortened poll, a neck that is medium in length and fleshy, withers that are average in height, a back that is long and flat, a loin that is broad as well as a croup that is broad, and the horse is well muscled. The Tori has a very broad and deep chest, and limbs that are clean and properly set. Tori stallions at the studs are usually 162 cm high at the withers. This breed has a high fertility ratio, with 86 foals per 100 mares.


From 1890 to 1950, this breed was developed in Estonia at the stud in Tori, Parnumaa. It was developed by crossing native Estonian mares with European crossbred stallions. This breed was mainly founded by a stallion named Hetman, whose sire was Stewart, a crossbreed of a Norfolk Trotter and an Anglo-Norman mare. The Tori breed was formed by breeding Hetman and his sons. Thus, a valuable breeding nucleus rapidly formed, that slowed as signs of inbreeding depression were found in the 1930s. This deteriorated performance and robustness. To eliminate this inbreeding depression, Toris were crossed with Breton Post-horse stallions, and as a result, the massive type of Tori became widespread while the quality of the gaits declined. The need for a combination of utility and sporting qualities in horse led to crossings with Hanoverian, Holstein and Trakehner Stallions. Recent horse breeders have been trying mainly to get a very light sport horse-type of horse, resulting in a rapid loss of purebred Tori.

Since 04.06.2012 exists a separate studbook for the purebred and so called Old-Tori horses to stabilize and confirm the small number of these horses. In spring 2014 are fewer than 100 purebred Old-Tori horses left in Estonia.

Source - Wikipedia