5 Biggest Horse Breeds.
Most horse breeds fall around the median average in the equine world. Adults tend to be around 15 hands and weigh about 1,100 pounds, with stallions perhaps a little taller and heavier. Then there are a select few horses that are part of the biggest horse breeds in the world. The horses in this category can stand upward of 20 hands and weigh more than 3,000 pounds.
Despite their size, virtually all of the largest horse breeds are coldblooded in temperament, which means they are calm, gentle, and not easily spooked.
Here are the biggest horse breeds in the world today.
5. Dutch Draft.
This horse breed is relatively new to the world. It wasn’t developed until after World War I and it was bred to fill needs in heavy draft and farm work in the Netherlands. It appeared through the crossbreeding of a Belgian Draft and a Belgian Ardennes. Since 1925, no horse other than those from registered parents are admitted into the studbook.
Most Dutch Draft horses stand at 16 hands and are usually bay, gray, or chestnut. This horse has a very pronounced jaw, a straight profile, and a powerful neck. The legs are shorter than other draft horses, but just as strong.
4. Belgian Draft (Brabant).
This big horse breed is also one of the oldest breeds that is maintained in the world today. The average Belgian stands between 16.2-17 hands and weighs about 2,000 pounds. It is a stocky horse, with a relatively small head, but a thick neck and broad shoulders that allow it to take on a tremendous amount of pulling weight.
One of the tallest horses in the world right now belongs to this breed. His name is Big Jake and he stands at 20.275 hands.
Throughout much of history, Belgian Draft horses were primarily used for farm work. As that need phased out, their duties shifted to show work, riding, and miscellaneous agricultural work instead.
Unlike many of the other heavy draft breeds, the Belgian is neither rare nor endangered. It is the most popular breed of draft horse in the United States and the total number globally is believed to be over 100,000.
Coming from the Huisne River valley in France, Percherons don’t have the same thickness to their neck and chest like many other draft or heavy horses. Part of this is due to the infusion of Arabian genetics into the breed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Until the days after World War I, this breed was used almost exclusively as a war horse, thanks to its calm temperament and protective personality.
This is one of the few horse breeds where the ideal size depends on the country where the registry is located. In France, for example, the ideal height of a Percheron is up to 18 hands, with a weight up to 2,600 pounds. In the US, Percherons have a range up to 19 hands, while in Britain, height requirements begin at 16 hands instead of 15.
Only gray or black horses are registered in Europe. In North America, chestnut, roan, or bay horses are also allowed.
Named after the region in Scotland from where they came, these distinctive horses have the long feathers on their legs that are often used for show pulling and other events. Clydesdales have the sabino gene present quite frequently, so white markings along the legs and nose are very common.
Clydesdales used to be a rather small, but heavy breed. Through improvements with other draft horses over the last 100 years, however, it has become a tall breed today.
Originally used for agriculture, today’s Clydesdales are used in competitive events, as riding horses, and for some farm work by those who prefer to avoid modern technology. The most famous horses of this breed are owned by the Budweiser brand.
This British horse breed is usually gray, bay, or black. It is also a very tall breed of horse, having held the world record for largest and tallest horse at various times. Shires are highly regarded for their pulling abilities and are often used for forestry work still today.
In order for a Shire stallion to be registered, it must stand at least 17 hands in height. Geldings must be at least 16.2 hands and mares must be 16 hands. Stallions can weigh up to 2,400 pounds.
In 1924 at a pulling exhibition, a pair of Shire horses actually exceeded the reading on the dynamometer, but were estimated to pull a starting load of 45 tons. Their strength helped them find a place on the farm, especially with plowing, before the invention of the modern tractor.
At one point, Shires were quite endangered, but today they are growing and very popular.