Ideal Draft Horse

The typical, ideal draft horse stands over 16 hands (5 feet 4 inches), and under 18 hands high, and weighs 1,600 pounds or more in ordinary flesh.

The form should be broad, deep and symmetrical, the entire makeup suggesting great strength and weight. The draft horse’s body should be massive, blocky, and compact, and squarely set on short, broad, clean, sturdy legs showing fine skin, large joints, and prominent tendons.

The equine’s head should be large, proportionate in size to the body, well formed, clean, and free from coarseness and irregularities. The forehead should be broad, full, and not dished or too prominent. The profile of the face should not be too straight or of "Roman-nose" form.

There should be good width and fullness between the eyes, indicating power and intelligence. The eyes of the draft horse should be bright, clear, mild, full, sound, and of the same color. The lids should be smooth, well arched, and free from coarseness. The nostrils should be large and flexible; the lips thin, even and firm, and all the parts neat and clean cut.

Skin and hair of the muzzle should be of good quality. There should be a wide space between the lower jaws, free from meatiness, abscesses or tumors.

The neck of the horse should be of a side proportionate to the rest of the body, well arched, evenly muscled, with large windpipe and smooth insertion into the shoulder. It should not curve downward (ewe neck) or be broken in crest.

The shoulder should be moderately sloping, smooth and extending well back.

The arm, which extends from the point of the shoulder to the elbow, should be short, heavily muscled, and well thrown back.

The forearm, extending from the elbow to the knee, should be long, fiat, wide, heavily muscled, and free from coarseness.

The knees of the draft horse should be straight, wide, deep, strongly formed, and smooth.

The cannons, extending from the knees to the fetlocks, and composed chiefly of bones and tendons, should be short, strong, clean, and wide, with prominent and smooth tendons.

The fetlocks should be wide, straight, strong, and free from puffs, calluses, or interfering sores.

The pasterns, extending from the fetlocks to the hoof heads, should be moderately sloping, strong and clean.

Average draft horses have a tendency toward short, upright pasterns and stubby gait. This is highly objectionable as are also very long, weak pasterns, which bring the back of the fetlocks too close to the ground. The latter cause strain upon the tendons when drawing heavy loads.

The short upright pasterns are even more objectionable since they prevent springy, elastic action of the feet and allow concussion to jar the bony columns of the legs. The irritation and inflammation induced by continued jarring often results in sidebones, ringbones, corns and kindred diseases.

The bone of the pastern should have a slope of about 45 degrees and the front of the foot 50 degrees. Horses having upright pasterns, and consequent stubby action, wear out quickly when used upon paved streets.

The hoofs should be ample in size, sound, smooth and symmetrical in shape.

The chest, enclosing the heart and lungs, should be roomy in every respect. "An ample, wide, deep chest denotes vigor, power, strong constitution and easy keeping qualities."

The ribs form the "barrel" and should be deep, well sprung, and carried low at the flanks and close to the hips. The back, extending from the rear of the horse’s withers to the last rib should be broad, straight and muscular. In general appearance it should denote great strength and compactness.

The loins should be short, wide, deep and strong. The underline should run back full and low from the floor of the chest.

The upper part of the hind quarter is wide, thick, smooth muscle without angularities and coarseness.

The croup, the part of the hind quarter from top of the hip to the insertion of the tail, should show comparative levelness, ample muscle and great strength.

The most noticeable deficiency of this part in draft horses is excessive droop, or steepness and shortness, with weakness of muscle. Such conformation tends to slouchiness in gait and often is associated with "sickle" hocks.

The draft horse's croup should be smooth, of fair length, and neither too steep nor perfectly level.

The thighs from the hips down to the stifles should be strong, muscular, wide and long.

The gaskins, or lower thighs, correspond to the forearms, and should have the same qualities. The muscles should be large, prominent in front of the bone, and carried well downward.

The equines' hocks are most important joints because the great strain of starting and hauling a load falls upon them, and they will soon break down if not very strong and perfectly sound. The joints should be large, clean, sharply defined, wide, deep and well set.

Thus, one horseman describes the typical, ideal draft horse in the early 1900's.