American Cream Draft
|American Cream Draft|
American Cream Draft Horses in Minnesota State Fair Parade
|Distinguishing features:||A draft breed that is only allowed in cream color.|
|Country of origin:||United States of America|
|Horse (Equus ferus caballus)|
The American Cream Draft stands between 15 to 17 hands high and weighs up to one ton. Only the cream color is permitted in the breed.
Other than the coloration, the American Cream physically resembles other medium-weight draft horses. The head is refined in shape and in proportion to the body, with a short-coupled body, sloping shoulder, and deep girth. Manes and tails are long and flowing. The eye-catching appearance and uniformity of the horses makes them crowd pleasers when they appear in parades and at shows. They usually appear in harness but can also be ridden. The temperament is very docile and willing. There is slight feathering around the fetlocks.
American Creams have a body color ranging from almost white to a dark cream, with a white mane and tail. Horses may have white face and leg markings. Due to the action of the champagne gene, most horses are born with brown hooves, pink skin, and blue eyes. The blue eyes eventually become hazel, amber or occasionally green at adulthood. Skin is preferably pink, but at present darker-skinned mares are permissible for breeding as long as they have the rest of the cream characteristics.
Horses mature late, at around five years of age. Mares mature at around 16 hands in height, and weigh around 1,600 lbs. Mature height and weight of stallions is around 16.3 hands and 1,800 lbs or more.
It is a unique draft breed because of its cream coloring, which is not seen in most other draft horse breeds. Due to its small number of registered animals, the breed has been listed at a "critical" status by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
Genetic research, conducted by E. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky, has established that the American Cream Draft is not merely a color variant of the Belgian breed, but unique in type as well as color. The color is caused by a dominant gene known as the champagne gene, and it is neither a cremello nor a palomino.
The foundation dam of the American Cream Draft Horse was a cream colored draft mare of unknown breeding, Old Granny, purchased in 1911 in Iowa. Many of her progeny carried her distinctive colouring and these foals drew much attention in the local farming community. One of her descendants, the stallion Silver Lace No. 9, foaled in 1931 from a Belgian mare, had the biggest early influence on the breed.
In the mid-1930s, C.T. Rierson of Iowa purchased a number of creams with the intent of establishing a breed, and for the first time, detailed records were kept. The foundation stock was a mixture of cream-colored horses of unknown background, Belgians, Shires, and Percherons. He created the name "American Cream," and in 1944 the American Cream Draft Horse Association was formed by Mr. Rierson and other interested horse breeders.
The middle of the 20th Century was not the ideal time to promote a new draft horse breed, as tractors were replacing draft horses for farm work. Thus, by the 1970s, the breed association was defunct and the American Cream was nearly extinct. In response to this danger, a new American Cream Draft Horse Association was formed by the few remaining breeders in 1982. About 300 horses are in existence, with a distribution across the USA.