Top 7 Tallest Horse Breeds. All You Need to Know About Them

Jessica McDaniel
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#1 Thoroughbred: Size and Speed

At its Best!

One of the most desired horse breeds in the world, the Thoroughbred is synonymous with speed and grace. Nowadays, British-bred Thoroughbred horses are used for racing, with American-bred horses being trained to be show racers. There are some Thoroughbreds who are used for show jumping and dressage. With the right training, the Thoroughbred is versatile enough to be used for any discipline.

This breed is characterized by its long legs, long and muscular neck, relaxed and measured gait, and enormous stamina. Thoroughbreds stand between 16-17 hands high, and can have a weight of up to 800 lb. The Thoroughbred has many bloodlines and crosses can be produced with the Sport Horse, Arabian Horse, Mustang, and Morgan.

Breed Characteristics

Adults stand between 16.3 and 17.3 hands high and weigh between 550 and 800 lb. This breed of horse should be muscular and bony with the withers higher than the chest. The color generally ranges from light brown to dark brown.

Some Thoroughbreds are brown with a black mane and tail. This breed looks slim and sleek when compared to other similar horse breeds.

#2 Belgian Warmblood: Big and Bold

If you’re looking for a show horse, take a look at the Belgian Warmblood, a.k.a, “The King.” You might have seen this horse in the Olympics this summer when “The King” was proudly representing his country in dressage.

Other than being an Olympic athlete, this breed has many other qualities that make it a great horse for people of all ages.

But before we talk about the other characteristics, it is important to point out this horse’s impressive appearance. The Belgian Warmblood has an athletic build with strong bones and a hefty mane. Standing at 16 hands or 5 feet and 2 inches, this horse is a big boy!

The colors seen in this horse are brown, black, bay, and gray. However, other colors have been known to occur, such as chestnut. Most of the time, the horse’s coat is solid colored, with a white belly and blaze (strip along his face).

Moving on to the other characteristics, the Belgian Warmblood has a long and muscled neck and a well-developed chest. The horse also has long limbs, an average sized tail, and an intelligent head with a broad forehead.

#3 Oldenburg: Sizably Sporty

This is a tall horse with a long head and well-formed neck. Its body is firm, the croup is flat, the barrel is broad, the bottom line straight, and well-muscled. The legs are slender and strong, and the hocks are slightly turned out. The hoofs are wide with low, well-developed heels.

The Oldenburg is known mostly for its fine endurance in athletic competitions. They are also great for dressage, jumping and free jumping. The first International Oldenburg Horse Show was held in 1969 in Delmenhorst, Germany and it was a huge success. There are also Olympic level horses among them.

General height: 16-19.2hh (57-63 inches)

#4 Percheron: Tall Teammates

Height: 16-1 hands (171 cm, 5’ feet)

Resembling a mountain peak the Percheron is a large breed of horse. Although typically black or dark bay, there are white spots on the neck, head or legs. These spots are referred to as stockings. You may also find a white blaze on the forehead and strip on the upper part of the legs.

This large breed of horse has a gentle and willing nature. Due to this, they are often used to pull carriages and deliver goods. The Percheron was bred in France, but is now used worldwide by farmers to pull machinery in addition to carrying passengers. This gentle giant is also used as a saddle horse and done recreation work. The Percheron is well built, well bodied, with a long and large head. They may not be the fastest horse breed but have the endurance to go the distance. This is particularly true if the Percheron is fed an appropriate diet with a lot of grain. This is because they are a working horse. Due to this, you may find them in a variety of colors including bay, black, brown, and roan.

#5 Belgian: Gentle Giants

The Belgian is a breed of draft horse known for its good temperament, great carriage, and gentle nature. They are one of the tallest horse breeds in the world.

Belgian is not only the name, but also the nickname for its native homeland. In fact, Belgium, the country, is named after the region in which they were first founded.

Belgian horses originated from Brabant Province in Belgium and are part of the Ardennes breed. They were developed to be solid, large horses, and were used to carry people and pull carriages.

As carriages were phased out, the breed continued to be bred for their strength. Belgian horses are still strong, and are a good choice for a large draft horse. At maturity, they can get up to 17 hands in height, and 1,400 pounds.

+ General Appearance

Belgian horses can range in color, even from one horse to another, or one part of the body, or half of a horse to the other. Cooper, bay, and grey are the most common; and there can be occasional white, chestnut, and other colors.

#6 Cyldesdale: Very Big and Very Versatile

The Cylldesdale is the largest of the horse breeds and one of the tallest, standing in inches between 17.1 and 18.2 hands. The original lineage of the Clydesdale can be traced back to 1789 in Scotland where Col. W J. Bryson gave three bay horses, bred by John Gray, to Mr. John Glenn.

These stallions later became the progenitors of the Clydesdale breed. In fact, the cream-colored horse on the seal of the American Clydesdale Association is named Jim. A gift from John Glenn to the US ambassador to Britain, it served as a goodwill gesture to the citizens of the United States.

The Clydesdale was not very popular in the US until the late 19th century when the breed was introduced to the East Coast by Scottish immigrants. They became very popular during the Second World War when they were used to transport goods in place of the American draft horses that were unavailable at that time.

The Clydesdale was also featured in the Horse shows of the 1890s, which were organized by the US Department of Agriculture. In fact, one of them was named General Grant. In 2010, General Grant was featured in the Celebration of the Centennial Year of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park.

#7 Shire: Big and Brave

The Shire horse is one of the tallest horse breeds in the world. Purebreds can stand at about 19 hands 4 inches (7.2 ft) and can weigh more than 1900 pounds. They are also very gentle making them the perfect family horse.

These giant horses were bred in the 18th century to be powerful working horses. They were used to help with stud farm work, pulling and plowing, transporting supplies, cattle, and timber. They were also popular for cavalry.

The Shire horse is sometimes called the Shire draft, an allusion to the breed's original work in the shire of Nottinghamshire. Sometimes the Shire horse is called the Suffolk Punch, which is the name of one of its ancestors.

Today the Shire horse is still used as a working horse or for draft. It is also a popular breed for riding as they are calm, gentle, and have a good temperament.