Italian Heavy Draft Horse Breed – Profile, Facts, Photos

If there would ever be a horse on steroids, the Italian Heavy Draft would be it. This is a big, muscular, and noble horse, combining grace and strength as no other breed can.

If you like big horses, I recommend the Italian Heavy Draft as one of the largest breeds you’ve ever seen.

History and Origin

The Italian Heavy Draft, or as Italians call it, ‘Cavallo Agricolo Italiano da Tiro Pesante Rapido,’ comes from Italy and is a newborn breed. It dates back to 1860, when the Department of War crossbred local horses with immigrant breeds like the Arab and Hackney.

The offspring continued breeding and creating the Heavy Draft breed, which was officially recognized in the mid-1920s.

Several factors contributed to the breed’s success, including its formidable strength, speed, resilience, and, of course, the meat factor. The breed was originally used in the army and in the fieldwork sector thanks to the horse’s unparalleled strength. While Italian Heavy Drafts are of no use in the military today, they are still relevant for the working industry in rural areas across Italy and other regions.


One of the core characteristics of the Italian Heavy Draft is the sheer size and power that it emanates. This is a strong horse with a long head, coming from a thick and arched neck. The horse has short but sturdy legs and a wide, muscular, and deep chest.

– Size and Height

The Italian Heavy Draft sits at 14.2 to 15.3 hands, between 58 and 63 inches on average. While this is not a groundbreaking size, the Italian Heavy Draft makes it look way more impressive. This is due to its body composition with large muscles and heavy bones, creating a massive frame all-around.

– Weight

We are talking about a weight between1,320 and 1,540 lbs. This is about 50% more compared to what most horse breeds can offer. The horse’s weight makes sense, seeing as its primary uses include agriculture work and meat production.

– Colors

The Italian Heavy Draft doesn’t come with too much color diversity. Its standard coloring includes different shades of chestnut, sometimes with blonde manes.

– Speed

This horse can reach speeds around 25 to 30 mph, with the latter being an exception rather than a rule. The Italian Heavy Draft doesn’t excel at speed due to its large size, requiring a lot of energy to move all that mass. This causes the horse only to use its maximum speed over shorter distances and rely on its stamina and endurance the rest of the time.

– Temperament

The Italian Heavy Draft is a gentle giant. It is a noble and friendly animal that works well with humans and shows calmness and a balanced behavior. This temperament makes the horse highly valuable within the equine community, especially for people who need a reliable companion.

– Lifespan

Expect a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, which is common among all horse breeds. The lifespan’s duration will vary depending on the quality of life, food, lifestyle, illness, etc.

Diet and Nutrition

Nothing new to see here. The Italian Heavy Draft is easy to satisfy since it sticks to the standard equine diet. This includes hay, grains, grass, etc. The difference, most likely, lies in the quantity.

This is a massive horse with a matching appetite. Expect it to eat a lot more than your average horse, especially if your Italian Heavy Draft has a more active lifestyle with plenty of physical endeavors.


Bathing and cleaning your horse regularly are the key to preventing a rougher look and avoid parasites. I recommend showing extra care to the tail and mane and check the hoofs daily. This will prevent any unwanted infections and keep your horse’s profile elegant, clean, and ravishing.


The Italian Heavy Draft is most useful in the agricultural sector, especially in rural areas where people still rely on horses to perform their fieldwork. The horse is also sought-after by horse lovers looking to get a companion with a vibrant and impressive presence.

Finally, horse breeders use stallions for mixed breeding, providing other breeds with some of the Heavy Draft’s physical characteristics.


There isn’t too much information online about available prices, primarily because there aren’t many selling offers. The population of Italian Heavy Drafts is on the lower end and mainly localized in Italian provinces, making it less known worldwide. It also doesn’t help that the horse doesn’t have much traction when it comes to competitive events.

If you’re looking to buy one, you might need to do some serious digging.

Health Problems

The horse is generally healthy with no serious disorders to look for. Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary to preserve the horse’s health and ensure a long and balanced lifestyle. This approach is that much more necessary if your horse works in agriculture, which can be a demanding sector.

Just make sure your horse gets adequate food and plenty of water and rest, and everything should be fine. You should also contact your veterinarian as soon as the horse shows signs of disease, like lacking appetite and showing low energy levels or apathy.


The recent population count showed that there are around 6,000 Heavy Drafts left, most of them in Italian regions. There may be more unregistered around the world, but don’t expect the number to go up drastically.


While the Italian Heavy Draft isn’t the ideal horse breed for competitions, it still has plenty of value to offer. The horse will be of great use if you live in a rural area and have fieldwork to perform or simply enjoy casual horse riding in the sunset.

This is a friendly, obedient, and energetic animal with a lot to offer regarding physical and emotional capabilities. If you wish to know the Italian Heavy Draft better or want to purchase one but can’t find any offers, leave a comment below, and I might be able to help.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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