Breed name: Australian Draught Horse
Country of Origin: Australia
Breed origin: The Australian Draught Horse was developed in the 1800s from the four main draught breeds brought to Australia with the early settlers: Clydesdale, Shire, Percheron and Suffolk Punch. With the boom of agriculture after the gold rush period, heavy horses were in high demand as a faster alternative to bullocks. Different breeds were popular in different states, but gradually, a type began to develop that was unique to Australia. They were used for everything from logging to ploughing to transporting goods to pulling rail wagons. It wasn’t uncommon for Australian Draught Horses to be a family’s primary means of transport, as well.
While heavy horses around the world were largely replaced by machinery during the industrial revolution, their value was rediscovered during the Great Depression of the 1930s. This meant that even when draught horses were no longer needed as working animals, passionate breeders continued to develop the Australian Draught Horse breed. Aside from the four main draught horse breeds, some Belgian and light horse bloodlines were introduced. A studbook was established in 1979, and it has worked to promote the breed as a working horse, pleasure mount and show horse ever since.
Distinguishing features: Australian Draught Horses come in several types, and range in height from around 16-17.3 hands high. All solid colours are allowed, but excessive white markings are discouraged on the grounds that pink skin is less suitable for Australian conditions. They are hardy, willing, even-tempered and friendly. Their eyes are alert and set in a well-proportioned head. They have large, strong bones and a muscular physique, with a deep girth and wide chest and hindquarters. Feathering on their legs covers large, solid hooves.
Modern day Australian Draught Horse: The Australian Draught Horse is used for a wide range of purposes including agricultural work, showing, pulling and ploughing competitions and pleasure riding.
Image credits: Marlie Draught Horse Stud, Kim Woods, Corroboree Equus.