3 Small Draft Horse Breeds (With Pictures)


Last Updated: March 22, 2021

Draft horses are the way to go if you want a horse to pull your carriage or work on a farm. Because these horses have been bred for work, many draft breeds are tall and muscular. Luckily, there are a few small draft breeds that can still get the job done without towering over you.

If you are interested in a draft horse with a smaller frame, keep reading. In this article, we give you the three most popular small draft horse breeds. Though these horses are still real working beasts, they won’t be as large as other draft horse varieties and they are as gentle as a teddy bear.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Haflingers

haflinger-pixabay
Credit: sarahdtd, Pixabay

Breed Overview

Weight: 800–1,300 lbs
Height: 13.2–15 hands
Body Type: Short and stocky with strong legs and hooves
Life Expectancy: 25–30 years
Best For: All disciplines

The Haflinger horse is one of the most popular breeds among adults and children alike. These horses are small, yet athletic and talented. They excel at a variety of tasks, such as dressage and driving, and they are very docile and friendly towards humans. Even though they are smaller than other horse breeds, they certainly are powerful.

History

This small draft horse breed originated in the Tyrolean Mountains, which is a chain that runs between present day Italy and Austria. During the medieval times, these horses would carry riders through the narrow trails in these mountains. Because of the terrain type, Haflinger horses had to be strong and agile.

In 1874, a half-Arabian stallion colt was born. He became the foundation stallion for all the purebred Haflingers to follow. The name “Haflinger” refers to a village, which was in the Austrian territory. By 1958, Haflingers became one of the most popular breeds and were imported to America. Today, their reputation as being a hardworking and lovable horse still stands.

Characteristics

Haflingers are compact horses. They are between 13.2 and 15 hands on average. These horses can be so small, in fact, that they are only the size of a pony. Still, they are incredibly strong and able to carry human adults. Their strength to size ratio is impressive, to say the least!

As for their personalities, Haflingers are really people oriented and are considered laid back. They have surprisingly docile temperaments, making them the perfect family horse. Not to mention, their small size makes them a great option for children.

Colors and Markings

Haflingers stand out for more than just their stature and personality. They have a beautiful coat that is hard to miss. Their coat is always Chestnut colored with a cream or white mane and tail. The Chestnut coat can range from a light golden color to a dark Chestnut. Additionally, Haflingers often have white points located on their faces and lower legs.


2. Norwegian Fjord

norweigan fjord-pixabay
Credit: lotielin, Pixabay

Breed Overview

Weight: 900–1,200 lbs
Height: 13.2–15 hands
Body Type: Most similar to a classic “Draft” body type
Life Expectancy: 25–30 years
Best For: All disciplines

Norwegian Fjords have an incredibly long history that dates back thousands of years. These horses have been domesticated for more than 4,000 years, and they were bred to be great workhorses with a calm personality. This is a gentle and small draft horse that is great for many purposes.

History

Crazy enough, Norwegian Fjords are close descendants to the ancient horses that are painted on the walls of caves. They were bread nearly 4,000 years ago and domesticated by the Vikings of Norway. Nearly all draft breeds today likely have some ancestry related to this small breed.

Although these horses were typically used for work and farming purposes, they have been bred all throughout the world for a variety of purposes.

Characteristics

Norwegian Fjords are small. They are roughly the size of Haflingers, but they can be slightly larger. Still, they are much smaller than other draft breeds even though they have a classic “draft” body type.

Like the other small draft horses on our list, Norwegian Fjords have a great temperament and aren’t easily spooked. Although these horses are seen less often than Haflingers, they certainly have similar characteristics, such as a calm demeanor and versatility.

Colors and Markings

Norwegian Fjords have beautiful colorations and markings. They can come in multiple colors. What makes these horses stand out, however, is the dorsal stripe that runs along their backs. This dorsal stripe stretches from the base of their tail to the end of their mane.

Their mane and tail are also very interesting. They are bicolored and almost look like an inside-out Oreo, with the white on the outside and the dark brown or black on the inside.


3. Gypsy Vanners

Breed Overview

Weight: 1,100–1,700 lbs
Height: 14–15 hands
Body Type: Short and stocky with heavy bones and broad body
Life Expectancy: 20–25 years
Best For: All disciplines

The Gypsy Vanner horse is a small draft breed that was originally bred so as to pull a gypsy wagon. Today, Gypsy Vanners are used in all disciplines. In addition, they are a great family horse or therapy horse because of their gentle nature.

History

As their name suggests, the Gypsy Vanner was bred by Great Britain’s Gypsies. They were selectively bred so as to be the perfect horse to pull a gypsy caravan. It wasn’t until 1996 that the first Gypsy Vanner horse came to America.

Characteristics

These horses were bred to be stylish to match a gypsy caravan but docile enough to be led by children. As a result, these horses have quite a wow factor that other breeds simply don’t have. Their body type is similar to that of a draft horse, but they are shorter. Still, they can pull a lot of weight.

Even though they are very strong, Gypsy Vanners are known to be kind, intelligent, and colorful. These factors make Gypsy Vanners a favorite among family horse owners and horses used for therapy purposes.

Colors and Markings

Interestingly, “Gypsy Vanner” does not refer to a color breed. Instead, they have a specific body type, complete with heavy bones and a broad body. At the same time, they only stand 14 to 15 hands. They can come in just about any color, including tobiano, solid, and splash.

As far as their appearance, the first thing that people are likely to notice is the feathering hair that comes behind their knees and hocks. Additionally, they have a stunningly long and free flowing mane and tail that appear beautiful and free-spirited.horse shoe divider new

Final Thoughts

Small draft horses are a great way to go if you want a horse that can work hard but also play with your children. All three of the breeds above are small draft horses with unique histories and lovable personalities, making them favorites around the world.


Featured image credit: Linzmeier1, Pixabay





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