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15 Best Horse Breed for Heavy Riders

Draft Horse breeds tend to be able to carry heavier riders due to their size. As a general rule the weight of the rider don't want to be heavier than 20% of the horse's body weight. So for a standard 1000lbs horse (for example Morgan horse or Thoroughbred horse), you don't want to be heavier than 200lbs. We have conducted a list of the top 15 best horse breeds that are able to carry heavy riders over 250lbs. Almost all horses in this list is draft breeds which are suitable for a larger rider as they weigh more than a normal horse, so their rider weight limit goes up a lot. Please note - the acceptable rider body weight has been calculated based on 20% max of the horse’s weight of the horse. Let the countdown begin, most popular breeds for heavy riders: 

15) American Paint Horseamerican-paint-horse

Photo: Pinterest

  • Height: 14hh - 16hh
  • Weight: 900-1300lbs
  • Popularity: Very High
  • Max rider weight: 200lbs

14) Friesian Horse

Photo: Iron Spring farm

  • Height: 15hh - 17hh
  • Weight: 1200-1500lbs
  • Popularity: High
  • Max rider weight: 240lbs 

13) American Cream Draft


Photo: Colourful Equines

  • Height: 14hh - 16.3hh
  • Weight: 1600-1800lbs
  • Popularity: Medium
  • Max rider weight: 320lbs 

12) Breton Horse


Photos: Pixel Nomad

  • Height: 15hh - 16hh
  • Weight: 1700-1900lbs
  • Popularity: Medium/High
  • Max rider weight: 340lbs

11) North Swedish Horse


Photos: STJBH

  • Height: 15hh - 16hh
  • Weight: 1300-1700lbs
  • Popularity: Low
  • Max rider weight: 260lbs 

10) Russian Heavy Draft


Photos: Pinterest

  • Height: 14hh - 15hh
  • Weight: 1200lbs-1500lbs
  • Popularity: Very Low
  • Max rider weight: 240lbs

    9) Boulonnais Horse


    Photo: Adobe
    • Height: 14.3hh - 17hh
    • Weight: 1400-1700lbs
    • Popularity: Low
    • Max rider weight: 280lbs

    8) Irish Draught


    Photo: Pinterest
    • Height: 15.2hh-16.3hh
    • Weight: 1300-1500lbs
    • Popularity: Medium
    • Max rider weight: 260lbs

      7) Ardennes Horse


       Photo: Pinterest

      • Height: 15hh-17hh
      • Weight: 1600-2200lbs
      • Popularity: High
      • Max rider weight: 320lbs

      6) Suffolk Punch


       Photo: Pinterest

      • Height: 15hh-16.2hh
      • Weight: 1600-2200lbs
      • Popularity: Medium
      • Max rider weight: 320lbs

      5) Dutch Draft

      dutch-draft-horsePhoto: Globe Trotting 

      • Height: 15hh-16.2hh
      • Weight: 1600-1900lbs
      • Popularity: Low/Medium
      • Max rider weight:  320lbs

      4) Clydesdale Horse


      Photo: Classical City Clydesdales

      • Height: 16hh-18hh
      • Weight: 1700-2200lbs
      • Popularity: Very High
      • Max rider weight: 340lbs

      3) Shire Horse


       Photo: Adobe

      • Height: 16hh-18hh
      • Weight: 1800-2200lbs
      • Popularity: Very High
      • Max rider weight: 360lbs

      2) Percheron


      Photo: Stable Express 

      • Height: 16hh-18hh
      • Weight: 1900-2100lbs
      • Popularity: Very High
      • Max rider weight: 380lbs

      1) Belgian Draft


       Photo: Amazing Horse Facts

      • Height: 16hh - 17hh
      • Weight: 2000-2300lbs
      • Popularity: Low/Medium
      • Max rider weight: 400lbs 

      Can heavy draft horses be ridden by anyone?

      Draft horses may not be athletic horses, but they are still good riding horses. Suitable for both large riders over 250 pounds and lighter riders at 100 pounds. Their gentle personality and calm temperament makes them a good choice for beginner riders, novice riders and experienced riders. Draft breeds tends to have a smooth gait, which makes them very comfortable for long trail rides. Even though they have proven that they are the strongest horse - don't let their size fool you as they are gentle giants with a calm demeanor. 


      Photo: Horse Talk 

      Which horse breed should I chose if I weigh more than 200lbs?

      There is not really a clear best breed for heavier riders as most draft horses can carry heavier riders. You may want to pick one of the more popular horse breeds in the United States as they will be easier to find, including Percheron, Shire horse, Clydesdale and Suffolk punch. These horses can carry significantly much more weight than smaller horses such as Thoroughbred horses, Arabian horse, Andalusian horse, Tennessee walking horse and American saddlebred. If you are scared of height and prefer to be on a smaller horse, then an icelandic horse may be a great option as they are smaller in height but still very robust and weight bearing. Simply contact your local riding school and ask if they have any of the draft breeds on our list. The first time on a big draft horse can be daunting, but don't be scared! Remember the gentle giant will look after new riders and make an excellent riding horse.

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