Drum Horses

Drum Horse Information



Drum Horses

What is a Drum horse anyway?

     If you're lucky enough to have a copy of the book, "All The Queen's Horses",  you'll notice that The Drum Horse breed is defined simply as "A colored Shire Horse".  More specifically, a colored Shire Horse trained for a specific and highly respected job.


     These horses are used by the British regimental Cavalry for parades and events, to carry a drummer and 2 solid silver kettle drums.  They are generally over 16.2 hands, although anything with the breed characteristics that is over 16 hands is generally considered a Drum horse.  Drum Horses are strong enough to carry the weight of a full grown man along with the two, 90 pound kettle drums, and all accompanying gear (which can weigh upwards of 450 lbs total)!  A drum horse must  have an exceptional disposition, as they are used in events that would test the character of even the most reliable and steady horse.  Drumhorses are controlled only by the feet of the drummer during parades and events, so they have to be incredibly well mannered and very even tempered.  Can you imagine most horses parading calmly through the streets of one of the largest cities in the world, with thousands of people and general chaos all around, and doing it all with someone on their back beating two deafening kettle drums? 


drum horses on parade


     Drum horses are one of the most-seen, and familiar horses in British Pageantry.  No royal procession is complete without at least one drum horse leading the way. 

     Drum horses are extremely rare, with very few being raised anywhere in the world.  At one time, colored Shire Horses were common, and could even be registered in the studbook of The Shire Horse Society (UK).  The downfall of the colored Shire Horse came when it was decided that the piebald & skewbald colors would no longer be accepted in the registry.  It didn't take long for these horses to fall out of favor amongst Britain's breeders.  Many of these horses found their way into Gypsy's hands, which made perfect horses to pull the much heavier waggons of the time.  These horses provided many of the qualities we see in the modern Gypsy Cob.


old drum horse photo
Here is a rare photo, circa 1909, showing the Great-Grandfather of one of our UK Gypsy breeders holding a horse of his at the time.  This is a great illustration of the old colored Shire Horses beginning to show up within Gypsy circles.  Note the size of the horse compared to the man, as well as the larger, roman nose of the horse - so common in the Shire and Clydesdale.  This is the kind of horse you'd have used to pull the heavy Reading wagons of the time.


     It is very rare nowadays to run across Drum Horses from the original Colored Shire lines, so the breeding practices used today are aimed towards re-creating that original colored Shire Horse.  We still have the ingredients to create the breed, so simply need to re-combine them.  We use the Gypsy Horse for the color, and the Shire/Clydesdale for everything else.  As we progress through our breeding practices, we breed back to the Shire/Clydesdale to bring back the draft horse 'type' and size, while maintaining the color we originally took back from the Gypsy.

     We have had the honor of owning and standing the father of the Drumhorse in North America.  Galway Warrior was previously owned by the Queen of England, where he was trained as a Drum Horse and used in their breeding program.

     Galway Warrior has since passed away, but his legacy continues on.  He have frozen semen stored from him, and will be making that available to breeders.  If interested, please give us a call.     The ONLY way to create true traditional drum horses is to: a) breed two large gypsy and/or drum horses together, or b) breed a gypsy horse to a Clydesdale or a Shire.  Clydesdales, Shires, and Gypsy horses are basically the same type of cold-blooded horse, with close heritage and obvious similarities in body types.  Shires and Clydesdales crossed with gypsy horses will breed true to type, and the outcome will be consistently predictable. 


     Note:  In order for a horse to be a traditional drum horse, it must have feather.  Breeding a non-feathered horse to a feathered one will not produce a drum horse.  If you breed a gypsy horse stallion to a draft mare without feather, you will get a spotted draft.  If you breed a gypsy or drum stallion to light breed mare, you will get a warmblood/sporthorse.  It takes several generations for feather to return once it has been bred out.  There is a current trend in the US for some dealers to call spotted draft horses "Drum Horses" to try to cash in on the market.  Don't be fooled. 


porcelain drum horse model
Breyer®  Porcelain Model of a Drum horse.



Examples of Drum Horses

Galway Warrior

Galway Warrior, our TRUE British Drum horse (deceased).  He was once owned by the Queen of England, and stood in the Royal Stables as a drum horse sire, as well as fulfilling duties as a drum carrier.  Galway Warrior is a 3/4 Shire, by the immortal Black Shire stallion Edingale Mascot and a half-shire colored mare.  Warrior was 17.1 hands high.

Learn more about Galway Warrior by clicking here


Drum Horse stallion Monarch
This is Monarch.  A 4 year old Drum Horse Stallion bred by us. 
He is sired by Galway Warrior, and his Dam is our champion Shire mare, Gracie.



Drum horse stallion Rebel
This is Rebel.  He is also a 4-year old Drumhorse Stallion bred by us.
He is sired by Warrior, and out of a Shire mare named Charcoal.



Drum horse stallions pulling hitch wagon
And this shot is of the two stallions working together as a team.
These boys are shown here in competition at the 2008 National Western Draft Horse Show.



Drum horse mare Pippin
Pippin - Drum Horse Mare.





In 2003, the Breyer® company selected two horses from us to be immortalized as special event models, and featured as special guests at BreyerFest® that summer.  Our Shire mare, Gracie, was the celebration horse, and Warrior made his appearance as well.  Breyer made a special model of Warrior in fine, gloss porcelain.  A very limited number (appx 750) were made, and they sold out quickly. 

See more pictures from BreyerFest by clicking here


Breyer sign for Galway Warrior at Breyerfest
The bottom of this poster is the Breyer Porcelain model of Galway Warrior, our late drum horse stallion.



More pictures of Drum Horses

drum horse           drum horse



drum horses in England
Picture (of a picture) of the 2001 line up of drum horses in service in England. 



Constantine drum horse
Constantine.  A sabino Clydesdale currently in service with the Household Cavalry.


drum horse Spartacus in England
Spartacus in action! 


Drum horse Spartacus in stall
Spartacus in his stall at the Royal Barracks in London.  Dinner time!


Drum horses in parade in England
Drum Horses at work


Drum horse model
A really nice handmade model that is on display at the Household Cavalry Museum in Windsor, England.  The Military men there were kind enough to take it out of the case so that I could get some nice pictures (but weren't kind enough to turn their backs long enough for me to stuff it under my coat :>)  just kiddin!



Thomas and drum horse
My son, Thomas (the boss), explains drum horses to some other visitors.
Thanks a bunch for the HHRC of GB for arranging our tour, and to service men of the Royal Barracks at Hyde park for giving us a private look at how things are run in the Queen's stables!