Heavy Horses.....Draught Horses.....Cart HorsesThere are many breeds of heavy horses all over the world. Many people believe that the SHIRE is our only breed of heavy horse or cart horse. The SHIRE is just one of many breeds in the UK (and other parts of the world). Here we introduce you to some of the breeds you will see in this country.
The Clydesdale is Scotland’s indigenous breed of heavy horse. It takes its name from the district of Scotland through which the upper reaches of the River Clyde flow. It is from this area, now known as South Lanarkshire, that the breed originated in c. 1700.
The Comtois is a very old breed from Franche-Comte and the Jura Mountains on the border of France and Switzerland. In the 16th century, the Comtois became famous as a cavalry and artillery horse. Louis XIV used this breed in his armies as did Napoleon on his campaign into Russia.
The Suffolk horse is the oldest breed of horse to exist in a form which we can recognise today. It has the oldest breed society in England and the longest unbroken written pedigree of any breed of horse, but is listed as Critical by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
The Percheron is one of the oldest breeds of heavy horses in the world. It gets its name from the small area of La Perche in North West France where they were always bred. The breed’s origins are lost in legend and although the modern Percheron may well owe some characteristics to the warhorse of the Middle Ages, it has changed considerably since then.
The Shire horse is the most familiar and numerous of the heavy horse breeds in Britain. The Shire is a descendant of the Great Horse, used in medieval warfare and bred from crossing a large native horse with heavy horses imported from Flanders and Holland.