Senate backs ‘American Cream’ breed as Iowa’s official state horse

DES MOINES — The Iowa Senate has voted to name the American Cream draft horse the official horse of Iowa.

It’s one of several breeds of work horses that pulled plows and harvesting equipment for Iowa farmers before horses were replaced by tractors. Senator Annette Sweeney of Iowa Falls says the American Cream breed originated in Iowa.

“The American Cream draft horse is the only breed of draft horse that can claim it is native to the United States,” Sweeney said. “In fact, it was foaled in my hometown of Radcliffe back in the early 1900s.”

The welcome sign to Radcliffe notes it is the “cradle” of the American Cream draft horse.

Mature draft horses can be as tall as six feet and weigh well over a ton. American Cream draft horses have a cream colored coat, a white mane. Sweeney says they were not as tall or heavy as Clydesdales, Percherons or Belgians that were brought to the continent in the 1800s.

“And (American Cream draft horses) were more easily handled within our small farms that we had in the early 1900s,” Sweeney says.

In the middle of the last century, the state of Iowa recognized the American Cream as a breed of draft horse. However, according to the American Cream Draft Horse Association, there are fewer than 400 American Cream horses alive today.

Three senators voted “nay” on the idea of naming the American Cream as the state horse, but 43 senators voted yes. The proposal has to win the approval of the Iowa House, too, before this particular horse breed would officially become the state horse.

The Iowa House voted earlier this year to name the tiny Iowa Darter as the state fish.