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By Smith Northam

Last updated: 31st January 2023

Australian Draught Horse


Smith Northam
Last updated: 31st January 2023

The Australian Draught Horse is a breed of domesticated horses that evolved in Australia by crossing four pure draught breeds. This cold-blooded variety is known for its extreme hardiness, strength, and even temperament. As the name suggests, they were used for draught works in the past. However, in modern times, this breed is mostly used in different competitions and also as pleasure mounts.

Australian Draught Horse Pictures

Quick Information

Behavioral Characteristics Spirited, friendly, even-tempered, alert
Physical Traits Strong and hardy physique with an average size head, but with a broader forehead; they have clear eyes that look very alert; the neck is of medium length; the shoulders are well muscled that evenly blends into the withers, the chest and the back; the chest, the hips and the hindquarters are wide; the legs have light to medium feathering; the stallions have well-developed crests
Breed Type Heavy
Blood Type Coldblooded
Category Working Horse, Riding Horse, Agriculture Horse, Show Horse
Coat Colors Black, White, Brown, Gray, Roan
Height/Size 16-17.2 hands (average for adult studs/stallions and mares)
Weight 1320-1980 pounds
Health Problems Normally healthy with no breed-specific diseases
Uses Work, general riding, pleasure riding, endurance
Ancestors (Bloodlines) Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, Suffolk Punch
Popular Traits Hardy, healthy, multi-talented, calm, suitable for beginners/novice
Feeding/Diet General horse diet including hay, grass, grains, etc.
Time of Development 1854
Country of Origin Australia
Registration and Association Information Breed Standard
Stud Book

1920 Video: Australian Draught Horses Working (pulling logs) in Australia

History and Development

In the 1850s, when the bullocks were responsible for heavy draught works, there was a need of strong draught horses for faster movement. In order to meet this need, it was during this period of the development of the agricultural industry that the Scottish settlers from Australia promoted the use of the Clydesdale horses. The Clydesdale breed, in the latter years, served as the breeding stock of the Australian Draught.

Over the years, the Australian Draught Horse developed by crossbreeding the four recognized pure draught horse breeds – the Clydesdale, Percheron, Shire, Suffolk Punch, all of which were introduced to Australia during the colonial period. However, there is also some light horse blood as well, as can be seen in part-draughts. The Belgian Draft blood was also introduced more recently. The characteristics of these breeds are extensively present in this horse, which is evident from the many colors and types within the breed.

They were primarily used for farm work and pulling carriages. However, with the introduction of technology, the machines replaced animals, and the population of these equines dwindled slightly.

Eventually, in 1979, the breed was officially established after the foundation of the ‘Australian Draught Horse Stud Book Society’, whose mission was to protect and document the breed.

Interesting Facts

  • The Australian Draught Horse breed had extensively been used to pull rail wagons on to the docks and sidings.
  • Back in 1900, a team of Australian draught horses made a record of carrying a load of 150 bales of wool at a time.

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