The purpose of draft breeding in Holland is to produce a large, massive horse, strong and solidly built. It should have a head with a straight profile, short, lively ears, a strongly muscled front, good withers, a heavily muscled loin and hind quarters, with good muscle in the legs and good feet. The movements should be spacious and easy. The Dutch Draft must be able to do hard work for extended periods of time. Coat color is usually chestnut, bay or gray, and sometimes black.
Closely resembling the Belgian Heavy Draft, the Dutch Draft was developed from the Zeeland horse with crosses to the Belgian and Belgian Ardennes. This breed was found in great numbers in the provinces of Zeeland and North Brabant, where it did excellent work on large arable farms in the heavy marine clay. It was also represented in fairly considerable numbers on large farms in the marine clay areas of the province of Groningen, although it did not succeed in out doing the Groningen horse, whose qualities were more in keeping with the character of the farming population. In the province of South Holland, and more particularly on the island, on large farms where practices were influenced by those of Zeeland and western North Brabant, the Dutch Draft horse was also used.
The most valuable characteristic of this draft horse is its exceptionally quiet disposition and the unhurriedness of its movements. Although its known as a quiet horse, it can "turn a lively foot" when required. This makes it a good animal for many small farmers on mixed farms in sandy regions and largely explains why the Dutch Draft is so often found in Gelderland and to some extent in North Brabant and Limburg. The popularity of this horse in the provinces of Overijssel and Drenthe, adjoining Gelderland to the north, may well have been due to thesesame qualities. All this, however, is now largely a thing of the past.
This is the heaviest of all Dutch breeds and is particularly suitable for prolonged and heavy haulage or traction. Increasing mechanization and motorization have decreased the decline for heavy horses, but a number of good, sound breeding animals still exist.
Population Status: Uncommon