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Strongest Horse Breeds

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Horses have been bred to be strong as work, farm, or war horses. 

A good example of strong breeds are draft horses, which are some of the strongest horse breeds. They were bred to help humans transport heavy items, farm, go to war, and perform other tough jobs. 

Read on to learn more about some of the strongest horses and their characteristics.

Top 14 Strong Horse Breeds

Some of the powerful horses in the world include:

1. Marwari Horses

Portrait of two Marwari Horses

The Marwari horse is one of the rarest breeds in the world.

Originally from the Marwar region of India, these horses were selectively bred to enhance their qualities. They had a strong sense of direction and were alert to potential danger. 

A mature Marwari horse weighs between 750-1,000 pounds and stands 14-16 hands tall.

These horses have slim bodies and can be gray, chestnut, bay, palomino, or piebald.

Black-colored Marwari is considered less desirable and is termed as ominous.

Marwari horses have straight legs with solid joints, and they have a high croup. Their ears curve inward.

Marwari horses can run up to 25 mph (40km/h). They are friendly, loving, and obedient. Additionally, these horses are spirited and have a brave temperament, which makes them trainable.

Modern Marwari horses are now used for ceremonial purposes and parades. They are also common in polo and dressage due to their stamina and agility.

When crossed with Thoroughbreds, the result is a versatile and large horse. 

These horses have an average lifespan of 25-30 years. 

2. Noriker Horse

Noriker Horse grazing in meadow

Noriker horses are originally from Austria, and it’s believed they lived in the foothills during the Roman era. They are also one of the oldest medium-sized horse breeds from Europe. 

Back in the day, Noriker horses were used for the transportation of items and farm work. Modern Norikers are now used in equine sports due to their impressive stamina.

Norikers have short ears, a slightly convex head, a muscular neck, an extended shoulder, and a deep and broad chest. The back is curved and their croup, muscular.

These horses have short legs with clean joints. Their hooves are smaller compared to other draft horses.

A mature Noriker horse stands between 15.2-16.2 hands high and weighs 1,400-1,600 pounds.

The breed can be black, brown, or chestnut. It’s also common to find Noriker horses with spotted colors like the tobiano and leopard complex.

Noriker horses are easily trainable, intelligent, and have a good temperament. That makes them ideal for beginner horse riders.

They also make excellent equine therapy horses due to their friendly and calm nature.

Norikers are used for horse polo, vaulting, jumping, equine parades, dressage, and pleasure riding. 

3. Australian Draught Horses

Working Australian Draught horses in harness in a festival street parade

Australian Draught horses are some of the strongest horses from Australia.

These horses were developed by crossing the Percheron, Clydesdale, Shire, and Suffolk Punch horses. They were created to help haul agricultural, mining, and logging products, as well as transport gold and other minerals. 

These horses have a large, muscular build, heavy bone structure, and a broad chest.

Australian Draught horses stand between 16-17.2 hands high and weigh 1,320-1,980 pounds.

They are available in black, brown, gray, roan, and white colors.

Despite their muscular build, these horses are calm, kind, and intelligent. They are also easy to train and work with. 

Modern Australian Draught horses are used for endurance riding, pleasure riding, and general farm work. They are also common in draft horse competitions.

4. Hanoverian Horse

Brown Hanoverian Horse stallion portrait in winter time

The Hanoverian horse is one of the most distinguished horse breeds and every competitive rider’s dream. 

Originally from Germany, it’s believed that Hanoverian horses were developed by crossing Thoroughbreds, Andulasians, Holsteins, and Neapolitans. The goal was to create a powerful horse that was also light and athletic.

These horses were used to drive carriages and plow fields in the 12th century. 

Hanoverian horses have small ears, clear eyes, muscular build, and long necks. They also have sloping shoulders. They can be chestnut, gray, black, brown, or bay. 

Hanoverians weigh between 700-1,100 pounds and stand between 15.3-17.2 hands high.

These horses are docile and calm. They are also disciplined and intelligent, which makes them a great companion. 

Hanoverian horses are used in dressage, show hunting, jumping, and other competitive sports. 

5. Friesian Horse

Black Friesian horse runs gallop in summer time

The Friesian horse is one of the strongest and oldest horse breeds in Europe.

Originally from the Dutch Friesland islands, these horses were described as versatile and powerful. They were mainly used for agriculture and war.

The breed is predominantly black, although it’s common to find some that are dark brown in spring due to shedding. White markings are discouraged. 

Friesians have compact and muscular bodies, elongated heads with alert ears, and a deep nasal cavity. Their eyes are brilliant, and their legs are sturdy.

They have long, wavy manes and tails and feathers on their lower legs. 

A mature Friesian stands between 14.2-17 hands high and weighs about 1,450 pounds.

The Friesian horse has a calm, kind temperament despite its majestic stature. That makes this horse perfect for any level of rider.

Friesian horses do well in dressage events due to their strength and speed. 

6. North Swedish Horse

brown North swedish horse grazing

The North Swedish Horse is from Sweden in an area known as Norrland. The Norwegian Dolehest could have contributed to the creation of this breed back in 1902.

The trotter and draft horses were combined to produce a robust and heavy horse that could compete with the Belgian breed. 

These horses have long backs and strong legs with feathers on their fetlocks. Their necks are strong, and their heads are straight. 

North Swedish horses stand between 15-15.3 hands high and weigh between 1,200-1,650 pounds.

North Swedish horses have a calm and kind temperament. They are also hardy, as they used to work in mountainous areas. 

This cold-hardy horse can be black, brown, roan, or chestnut. 

North Swedish horses are also easily trainable, fun-loving, willing to work, and docile. North Swedish horses have a life expectancy of 31 years. 

7. Mustang

Different colors of Wild Mustang Horses grazing

Mustang horses are light horses with muscular bodies and immense strength. 

The breed may have been introduced to North America by Spanish explorers in the 16th Century. Mustang horses carry a variety of bloodlines, including those of Arabian, Barb, and Andalusian horses.

Mustang horses have well-formed heads with wide-spaced brown eyes. Some horses can have almond or slanted-shaped eyes.

Their legs are strong and have light feathering at the back. The hooves are round with thick walls.

These horses can be chestnut, brown, gray, bay, or palomino. There are some spotted and pinto patterns. 

Mustangs stand between 14-16 hands high and weigh about 1,200 pounds on average.

Although Mustangs are wild horses, domesticated Mustangs are versatile and used for endurance riding, pleasure riding, and ranch work.

8. Clydesdale Horse

Black Clydesdale horse and dog run next to each other in winter field

Clydesdales are some of the mightiest and heaviest horses around.

Originally from Scotland, these horses were introduced to North America by Scottish settlers. They were used to pull wagons, plow fields, and power machinery that required a lot of endurance and strength.

These horses can be gray, black, or chestnut. Their coats can have roan markings or be solid. Clydesdales have white legs with lots of feathering, and their hooves look like big pans

Clydesdales stand between 16-18 hands and weigh about 1,600 pounds on average. 

Despite their majestic stature, Clydesdales are agile and calm, making them fantastic therapy horses.

Modern Clydesdales are used for driving and riding. They are still used for logging and agricultural work.  

9. Shire Horse

Beautiful portrait of a big Shire horse grazing

Shire horses are considered one of the biggest horse breeds in the world. Apart from their size, they are also powerful. 

These horses may have come from the English Great Horse, which was used for war. Knights needed a horse for carrying heavy armor, which led to the Shires’ development into more powerful and larger horses. 

These horses can be brown, black, gray, or bay. 

Shires stand 16-19 hands tall and weigh about 1,800-2,400 pounds. 

Shires are not easily spooked and are known for their easy-going and gentle nature. Modern Shire horses are used for pleasure riding and pulling vehicles or wagons. 

10. Suffolk Punch Horse

Suffolk Punch stallion trotting on meadow

The Suffolk Punch is a heavy draft horse known for its charming personality, energetic gait, and immense pulling strength. 

Originally from Norfolk and Suffolk counties in England, these horses are believed to date back to the 17th century. The breed was developed by farmers looking for a strong yet docile horse that could help pull carts and till the fields.

Suffolk Punch horses have thick arching necks; a tall, masculine build; and distinct chestnut coats. They also have a muscular croup and a stocky appearance.

Suffolk Punches stand between 15-17 hands high and weigh 1,600-2,000 pounds.

Modern Suffolk Pinches are used for logging, driving, and showing. 

11. Dutch Draft

Dutch Draft horse in Groningen, Netherlands

Dutch Draft horses are originally from Holland and were bred for heavy draft work. They are also one of the heaviest Dutch horse breeds.

These horses have a solid build and well-defined hindquarters and loins. Their legs are muscular and have firm but strong hooves. They also have lower leg feathering and a thick mane. 

This muscular horse stands about 15.2-16 hands high and weighs about 1,300 pounds or more.

Dutch Draft horses can be black, gray, chestnut, or bay colored. They also have lower leg feathering and a thick mane. 

The breed is obedient, docile, and easygoing. They can move fast when the situation demands.

Modern Dutch Draft horses are used for recreational riding, driving work, and dressage. It’s also possible to find them on farms.

12. Belgian Draft

Belgian draft horse in summer field at sunset

The Belgian Draft horse is from the Brabant region in Belgium. They were bred from the Great Flemish horse back in the 18th Century. 

Belgian Drafts can be chestnut, roan, or sorrel. Other distinctive characteristics include muscular, strong bodies, light feathering, stylish necks, and sturdy heads. 

The Belgian Draft is one of the strongest draft horse breeds, standing 16.5-19.5 hands high and weighing about 1,800-2,300 pounds.

Belgian draft horses are friendly and docile, but they can be stubborn around strangers.

Today, these horses are used for showing, driving hitches, logging, and other farm work.

13. Percheron

Huge white Percheron draft horse eating grass

Percherons were first developed in France’s Perche province. They were further developed in the 1800s to be used as cavalry horses.

Percherons were later introduced in the U.S. in the late 1800s before becoming a popular breed in the 1900s.

Percherons stand 16-17 hands high and weigh 2,100 pounds.

Their body is well-muscled, and they have long necks and slightly smaller heads than other horse breeds. They have muscular legs and thick, wavy manes and tails.

These horses can be black, chestnut, gray, sorrel, bay, or roan. 

Percherons have a lively nature but calm demeanor and are eager to please. They are also intelligent.

Their strength and stamina also make them excellent draft worker horses. Modern Percherons are used for riding, driving, and other farm tasks.

14. Ardennes

Heavy weight Ardennes cart horse runs on paddock

Ardennes horses are from the part of Belgium known as Ardennes. These horses were crossbred to make them bigger and stronger for farm tasks like pulling carriages and hauling farm items. 

An Ardennes stands between 15-16 hands high and weighs about 2,200 pounds. 

Ardennes can have roan, bay, or chestnut colors. 

These horses are calm, patient, and easy to work with, which makes them great for beginners and kids. Ardennes are also hardy and can adapt to any weather. 

Modern Ardennes horses are used for pleasure riding, competitive driving, and hauling farm equipment.

What is the Toughest Breed of Horse?

Belgian drafts are the toughest horse breeds, popular for being the strongest and most powerful. 

What is the Most Muscular Horse Breed?

The Shire is the most muscular horse. It has a world record for pulling 58,000 pounds in 1924.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the strongest breeds of horses. Whether you’re looking for a horse to help with hauling, farm work, or pleasure riding, our list above has something for everyone. Choose one that matches your desired temperament and work ability.