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What is a Drum Horse ?

The drum horse is essentially a coloured Shire, that carries the large kettle drums, and a drummer in the British Cavalry's parades and events. The drum horse must be a large, strong, eye catching horse with an exceptional disposition. The original 'Coloured Shire' of the UK unfortunately does not have many modern ancestors, and many of the original lines have been lost. Todays modern drum horse, should be a multi purpose family horse, with good movement, excellent temperament, and the ability to be both a ridden and harness horse. 


The history of the drum horse in the UK is very interesting, and their evolution worldwide incredible. There are no longer many Drum horses in the UK, but the breed has flourished in the USA, with the import of most notably, Galway Warrior an impressive drum stallion, once owned by the Queen, who has sired some amazing drums over Clydesdale and Shire mares. The need for an increased genetic pool, has led to breed standards being developed, and a breeding up program created, to cater for Shire and Clydesdale horses which are crossed with Gypsy Cobs, to achieve a coloured, heavily feathered, heavy horse, that is then bred away from a cobby build, towards a more athletic horse, using shire and clydesdales.

Information, and breed standard can be accessed here, on the International Drum Horse Ass webpage;


In Australia, until recently, there were no drums at all! The only options have been to cross Gypsy Cob Stallions, over Clydesdale and Shire mares. Some amazing American drums have been imported into QLD, showing us what true drums, with height, colour and presence should be. There have now been many F1s produced, that show varying mature height, and fairly varied type. Drums in Australia must now go forward to become a tall, athletic, coloured draught horse. 

Drum horses working, 2nd pic US stallion Monarch, 3rd Pic Stallions Monarch & Harley, 4th pic Stallion Bishops Rotaran

We are Tarmac Heavy Horses, have been thrilled with our first generation of Drum babies, using Gypsy cob stallions, over Clydesdale mares, to achieve gorgeous coloured babies, with lots of feather and nice movement. We must now move forward and see the need to decrease the % of gypsy cob in our horses, and breed up in height, for a leggier more athletic horse. The place of the Foundation drum, in our breeding program is extremely important, as they are the first step towards colour, they are also heavier in build, and not as tall as clydsedale/shire so for some people, this is the ideal multipurpose horse, coloured, heavy, lots of feather, awesome temperament and easy to get on and off !! We have already crossed our F1 colt back to clydesdale, with excellent results, we will put our F1 fillies back to Shire, Clydesdale and premium height stallions in the future, to  move forward towards a drum type.

2014 has seen some exciting progress for us, as we have added some leggy mares with really good height to use especially for breeding F1 foals, Blossom, Aby, and Geisha are all over 17hh, and display lovely length of leg and beautiful movement. We have also added a shire based F1 colt (50%shire 50%gypsy) to our herd, specifically to go over our existing 16hh clydesdale mares, Cowboy has already produced for us, an outstanding F2 colt, going in exactly the direction we would like.

2015 sees us move ever forward, with F1 & F2 babies in the making, from our F1 Stallion, Premium stallion, and also GC Stallion, over the best suited mares, to produce premium drum foals. The next stage of drum breeding for us, is to import semen, from the USA, to continue to breed up to the type of horse we want.

The ideal we have for the drum horses we are breeding, is to have coloured flashy, feathered horses over 16hh, with amazing temperaments, that are multipurpose under saddle, and driven, for all the family to enjoy.