Draft horses are well-known for being the largest horse breeds. Their strong physical traits make them suitable to be used in different industries like show-jumping, equine training, and pulling carriages, as well as heavy-duty work like pulling loads and plowing fields.
Aside from their height and sizes, draft horses can be found in many different colors including black.
In this article, we will explore 15 black draft horse breeds that exist and are still being used today.
1. The Murgese
The Murgese originated from the Murge, the region of Apulia in Southern Italy. These horses were developed by crossing the Barb and the Arabian.
Back in the old days, they were famously used as Italian cavalry mounts. Today, they are used in trekking, leisure riding, and equine sports.
Murgese horses possess a sturdy figure, well-develop hindquarters, thick manes, and tails. This breed generally stands between 14 and 15 hands high, with distinctive black or blue roan coats.
They are obedient, well-mannered, and easy to train. Being a hardy breed, these horses are extremely resistant to any diseases.
2. The Friesian
The Friesian horses are native to the province of Friesland, Netherlands. This breed was developed by crossing the Arabian and the Andalusian.
The Friesians were once used on battlefields as war horses before they were commercially bred to carry heavy loads.
They stand between 15.2 to 17 hands high with strong bodies, thick neck and manes, and muscular hindquarters. The Friesians are well-known for their glossy black coats. But they also come in other colors like cream and chestnut.
These horses possess a friendly and calm attitude. They don’t easily spook.
3. The Mustang
Originally, Mustangs were wild horses that roamed freely in the Western United States. They descended from the Spanish horses that were brought by the European settlers that came to the country.
The mane of the breed originated from the Spanish words ‘mesteno’ or ‘monstenco’, meaning wild or stray.
Mustangs generally stand between 14 and 15 hands high with coats that come in different colors like black, brown, chestnut, gray, roan, and bay.
They are widely used in activities like trekking, trail-triding, ranch work, horse racing, and many more. Experienced trainers are needed to tame these horses due to their reactive and wild temperament.
Being a hardy breed, they are easy to keep and thrive mostly on a simple diet like grasses and bushes.
4. The Merens
Also known as the Ariegeois ponies, the Merens originated from the Pyrenees mountain near Andorra in Northern Spain.
At one time, these sturdy and strong horses were used by farmers, winemakers, and miners to transport heavy loads across the mountains. This is where Merens’ physical traits and endurance play the biggest role in assisting humans effectively.
The Merens generally stand between 14.1 to 15.1 hands high with dull coats that come mostly in black.
They can be divided into two types: the small and light horses that are able to thrive in mountainous regions, and the modern lines, which are bigger, stronger, and widely used today for trekking and trail-riding.
These horses also possess a calm and obedient temperament, which makes it easier to train them in any discipline.
5. The North Swedish Horse
The North Swedish horses are native to Sweden. But they also can be found in Finland, Norway, and Estonia.
These sturdy, large horses stand between 15.1 and 15.3 hands high with different coat colors like black, brown, bay, chestnut, and gray. They also have thick, dense, and dark-colored manes and tails.
These horses can be divided into two types; the Swedish Coldblood draft and the Norwegian Coldblood trotter.
Training North Swedish horses are fairly easy due to their calm and easy-going nature. Nowadays, there are being used in many different activities like recreational riding, harness racing, agricultural work, and forestry work.
6. The Dutch Draft
These majestic-looking horses are well-known for their distinctive thick hair around the legs and ankles.
The Dutch Draft horses are native to Holland and generally stand between 15 to 16.2 hands high. They were developed by crossing heavy draft mares from Zeeland, the region of islands and peninsulas of the Netherlands, with Belgian breeds like the Ardennes and Brabant.
Dutch Drafts were used to pull logs, carry heavy loads, and do farm work in past years. Today, they can be found in different industries like recreational riding, leisure carriages, as well as dressage competitions.
These draft horses come in different solid colors like black, brown, chestnut, bay, and gray. Their calm and easy-going manner make them favorable to be around humans, especially children.
7. The Irish Draught
The Irish Draughts are native to Ireland. They were first developed by crossing the Irish Hobby and the Normans with several other breeds like the Andalusians, the European drafts, and the warmblood breeds.
These horses were primarily used for farm work, hunting, riding, and carrying heavy loads. Today, they are commonly used for competition and leisure riding.
The Irish Draughts generally stand between 15.2 and 16.3 hands high. These athletic horses are well-built with robust heads, strong bodies, deep girth, and muscular legs.
They also come in different colors like black, brown, bay, buckskin, chestnut, and gray.
Due to their agility and powerful stride, this breed is fairly suitable for people who are new to horse riding. Also, they are docile, easy-going, and fairly healthy.
8. The Murakoz
Also known as the Medimurje horses, the Murakozes are native to the Mura river region in southern Hungary.
They were first developed at the beginning of the 20th century by crossing native Hungarian mares with other breeds like Ardennes, Percheron, Noriker, and native Hungarian stallions.
These horses generally stand between 15.1 and 16.1 hands high.
The Murakozes come in different colors like black, seal brown, and bay. They have sturdy bodies and legs, thick necks, and a well-developed chest.
These horses were traditionally used as heavy draft horses on farms. In these modern days, their role in agricultural work is still important but people also used them for recreational and trail-riding.
Due to their docile and calm temperament, they are fairly easy to train.
9. The Lusitano
The Lusitano horses are also called the Pure Blood Lusitano or Puro Sangue Lusitano.
This breed has been around since 20,000 BC and originated from the Iberian Peninsula, which is located within Portugal and Spain. Historically, the Lusitanos are believed to share the same bloodlines as the Andalusians.
They were bred and trained to be used in many industries like mining and agricultural work, and are famously used in extreme sports like carrying matadors in the bullfighting ring.
The Lusitanos generally stand between 15 and 16 hands with solid color coats like black, brown, palomino, dun, bay, and gray. These horses are physically strong with sturdy figures, broad chests, solid arched necks, and powerful hindquarters.
In these modern days, the Lusitanos can be commonly found doing different activities like cattle work, dressage, leisure riding, and other equine sports.
10. The Nonius
Named after one specific Anglo-Norman stallion, the Nonius horses are heavy-boned, warmblooded equines that originated from Hungary.
This breed was developed at the Imperial Stud, Mezohegyes, and was used for the mounts of the Hungarian military service.
The Nonius horses generally stand between 15.1 to 16.1 hands with different coat colors like black, dark bay, chestnut, and brown.
These horses were primarily used for military purposes, agricultural work, and light draft work. Today, they can be found in many activities like show jumping, leisure riding, horse racing, and trekking.
The Noniuses possess a calm and easy-going temperament. They are easy to train and well-adapted to extreme activities due to their strong and muscular bodies.
Although these horses are predominantly found in Hungary, they can still be found in small populations in other parts of the world.
11. The Shire Horse
The Shire horses are recognized as the tallest horse breed with an average height of 16 to 18 hands high. This breed originated in England and is named after the place (the British shires) where they were first developed.
Resembling the Clydesdale, the Shire horses are gigantic in size with muscular frames, and have large hooves with heavy feathering on their strong legs.
These horses come in different solid colors like black, bay, brown, and gray.
Back in the old days, the Shire horses were used for different purposes like war, pulling heavy loads in the coal mines, plowing, and other agricultural work. Today, they can be found in friendlier and leisure environments like tourism, policing, equine sports, recreational riding, and commercial logging.
Due to their docile, agreeable, well-tempered, and intelligent nature, this breed is fairly easy to train.
Shire horses are generally healthy and resistant to most diseases. Their life expectancy is around 25 to 30 years.
12. The Tennessee Walker
Also known as the Tennessee Walking horse, this breed originated in the middle region of Tennessee called Bluegrass.
They were first developed in the 18th century by crossing Narragansett Pacers and Canadian Pacers with gaited Spanish mustangs. The Tennessee Walkers are known for their sure-footedness and strong gait. They also possess strong bodies, long necks, and muscular hindquarters.
These draft horses generally stand between 15 and 16 hands high with coats that come in different colors like black, brown, dun, bay, and gray.
Previously, Tennessee Walkers were used for heavy pulling and carrying loads on farms. Today, they are popular in trail riding, recreational runs, and equine sports.
In 2000, this breed was named as the official state horse of the US state of Tennessee.
13. The Arabian
The Arabian horses are synonyms to the Bedouin tribes that have traced their history back to 3000 BC. People from this tribe in Central Arabia kept meticulous records of this hardy breed that has evolved in the harsh and dry desert climates.
Back then, these horses were used as war mounts, transportation, and for pulling heavy loads. They arrived in the United States in the 1700s. The Arabian Horse Registry of America was later founded in 1908.
Arabians generally stand between 14 and 15 hands high. They have different coat colors like black, dun, bay, chestnut, and gray. In some cases, they also could have white markings and socks on their legs.
Today, this breed is famously used in different activities like show rings, long-distance trail competitions, horse racing, dressage, as well as ranching.
Although Arabians are intelligent and easy to train, they are not suitable for beginners. This is due to their temperament that is easily bored and only able to get along with experienced handlers.
14. The American Quarter
As the oldest horse breed in the US, the American Quarters’ origin can be traced back to English and Spanish horse breeds that were crossed with other local breeds.
This breed is native to the United States and stands between 14.2 and 16.2 hands high. Today, most American Quarter horses are the result of crossbreeding.
These horses have large eyes set wide apart, medium-length necks, agile, sturdy bodies with deep chests, and muscular legs. Their coats are mostly in solid colors like black, brown, chestnut, white, cremello, sorrel, and smoky gray.
Due to their athletic figure, the American Quarter horses are a perfect choice for leisure riding, horse racing, as well as rodeo riding.
Also, they are calm, easy-going, intelligent, and easy to train.
15. The Morgan
Being one of the earliest horse breeds, the origin of these horses can be traced back to one stallion named Figure.
Morgans generally stand between 14 to 15 hands high. They are considered all-purpose horses, being used in many industries like equestrian sports, trekking, transportation, as well as agricultural work.
The Morgans mostly come in dark and solid colors like black, chestnut, and bay. They have strong, compact bodies with thick necks and muscular hindquarters.
This breed possesses docile and easy-going personalities. They also are easy to train and extremely resistant to many diseases.
No matter what breed they are, black draft horses are definitely unique in their own way.
Although they are physically larger than any other light and agile breeds, draft horses serve to be one of the most helpful companions for humans throughout history.
The North Swedish Horse
The Dutch Draft
The Irish Draught
The Shire Horse
The Tennessee Walker
The American Quarter