American Cream Draft

This rare beauty is made in the USA.

American Cream Draft Horse
Photo by MacMillan Photography

Baseball and apple pie have a reputation for being quintessential all-American icons. But there’s another, lesser-known symbol of Americana: the American Cream Draft horse. The only draft horse breed developed in the United States, the Cream is a much younger breed than its European draft horse cousins. While the Clydesdale, Percheron, Belgian and other European draft breeds were established several centuries ago, the American Cream Draft got its start in the early 1900s.

American Cream Draft Horse
Photo by Amanda Delgado/Southern Horse Photography

It all began when a stock dealer named Harry Lakin bought a small draft mare at a farm sale in Iowa in 1911. The mare, who came to be known as Old Granny, was a rich cream color with a white mane and tail, pink skin and amber eyes.

No one knows Old Granny’s exact ancestry, but she went on to give birth to many cream-colored foals when bred to other draft horses. Her ability to pass along her stunning coloring to her offspring led her to become the foundation dam of the breed.

In the 1930s, fanciers of these cream-colored draft horses in the Melbourne, Iowa, area began to breed them in earnest, using line breeding and inbreeding to establish a distinct type. In mid-1944, the American Cream Draft Horse Association of America was established with an initial 20 members and 75 foundation horses.

American Cream Draft
The American Cream Draft has a refined head with small ears and a shortcoupled body. Photo by Amanda Delgado/Southern Horse Photography

Although numbers for the breed reached 200 registered horses by 1941, this turned out to be a tough time for many draft horse breeds. Farmers had already begun working their land with tractors instead of horses, and as a result, the demand for draft horses was dwindling. Consequently, the American Cream Draft Horse Association became inactive by the 1950s, and the breed was in danger of going extinct.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the association reorganized and began a concerted effort to save the breed using the horses that were left. The hard work of these breeders saved the American Cream Draft Horse from certain disappearance.

Running Cream Draft
Courtesy American Cream Draft Horse Association

Growing Numbers

Although this breed is considered very rare—just over 500 individuals exist—the breed is at its highest numbers in history. People who love draft horses are discovering this calm and attractive breed, not just for driving, but also for pleasure and competitive riding.

Although the American Cream Draft’s striking appearance is a large part of the breed’s attraction, this horse is most valued for its willing temperament, calm nature and abilities as a workhorse. Creams are often used in the carriage trade and for working the land on small farms.

Dressage being performed in an outdoor ring
BLC Joker’s White Russian is a Registered American Cream Draft stallion. Photo by Amanda Delgado/Southern Horse Photography

The American Cream Draft Horse Association is striving to bring this special breed to the attention of the horse-loving public. Booths at equine events are one way of introducing the breed to those who may not be aware these horses even exist.

Individual Cream owners also participate in shows, parades and other community events, often with the intention of introducing the breed to other equestrians.
The association’s membership in the Livestock Breed Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping preserve rare breeds, is also enabling them to keep the American Cream Draft Horse population genetically healthy.

The American Cream Draft Horse’s distinctive coloring, gentle temperament and all-American history help this versatile draft horse stand out among the crowd.

All these qualities combined with the dedication of those who love these horses will mean greater popularity for this special breed.

The eye of a horse
Photo by Amanda Delgado/Southern Horse Photography

Fast Facts

Height: 16 to 16.3 hands
Color: Light, medium or dark cream color on pink skin, with white mane and tail and amber or hazel eyes.
Overall Appearance: Refined head, wide-set large, intelligent eyes; small expressive ears. Short-coupled body with well-muscled hindquarters. Wide chest; short, strong back; strong legs.
Registry: American Cream Draft Horse Association

This article about the American Cream Draft Horse originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of
Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here