The story of the American Cream breed begins with a horse named Old Granny, a mare auctioned at a farm sale in Story county, Iowa, in 1911. Old Granny was a cream colored draft mare of unknown ancestry, born sometime between 1890 and 1905.
She has left her stamp on the horse world as the founder of a breed of horses distinctly and consistently resembling her in color and type. By mating her offspring to other well-known draft breeds, the type and quality have been improved while the color has been maintained.
Origin: Iowa, America.
Color: Light, medium and dark cream.
Height: Around 16.2 hh.
Conformation: Solid, muscular, not as large as the Shire or Clydesdale.
Character: Very calm and gentle; eager to work, strong and grounded.
Uses: pulling carts and wagons.
A few Iowa breeders became interested in the cream bloodline, especially after the birth of the stallion Silver Lace in 1932, a great‑great grandson of Old Granny. Silver Lace was an impressive figure, standing 16 hands high and weighing 2,200 pounds. At that time, a few foresighted men began line breeding and inbreeding with the hopes of establishing a new draft breed.
During the 1930s, cream draft horses became popular in the counties surrounding Melbourne, Iowa. Clarence T. Rierson, one owner of these cream colored draft horses, became interested in the strain and bought all of the mares sired by Silver Lace that he could find. He researched the ancestry of each cream horse and recorded their pedigrees. Rierson was one of the founders of the American Cream Draft Horse Association, which was chartered in 1944 with 20 members and 75 foundation horses in the registry. By the time of Rierson’s death in 1957, 41 association members had registered almost 200 horses.
Just as the American Cream breed was becoming established, however, the market for draft horses collapsed. Mechanization of agriculture meant that the majority of workhorses went to slaughter and the breeding of draft animals nearly ceased. For 14 years the American Cream Horse Association was inactive, except for the transfer of just one horse. Fortunately, a few people held onto their American Cream draft horses and maintained a slender genetic base, which was the foundation for the breed’s survival.
In 1982, the American Cream Draft Horse Association was reorganized.
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Breeders worked with the Dr. Gus Cothran of the University of Kentucky Equine Blood Typing Lab to determine the breed’s genetic parameters. Research results suggested that the American Cream is a distinct population within the group of draft horse breeds. These findings gave great encouragement to the breeders and have played an important part in the breed’s revival.
Since reorganization, 270 animals have been registered with 235 known to be alive. 107 persons have become members with 77 now enjoying membership and owning American Cream Draft horses. The American Cream is still critically endangered, but its numbers are increasing.
Good dispositions and a willingness to work make them an easily managed breed on small farms. The size of the American Cream makes it desirable for harnessing, hitching, and driving.
The American Cream breed standard
The American Cream horse is strictly of draft breeding and must not be confused with palominos or other light breeds.
Breed Standards for American Cream Draft horses call for light, medium or dark cream color on pink skin, white mane and tail, and amber or hazel eyes. Foal’s eyes are almost white the first year. White markings on face and legs are desirable. Creams have long manes and tails, and tails are not docked.
American Creams exhibit a refined head, well proportioned to body with wide-set, large, intelligent eyes, small expressive ears and flat nose profile. They are short-coupled with well-muscled hindquarters, wide chest, good sloping shoulders, short, strong back; deep throughout the heart girth, ribs well sprung, good strong legs in proportion to body set wide apart with strong, sure feet.
American Cream draft horses are medium to large in size, averaging 15-16.3 hands at the withers. Mares average 1600-1800 pounds and stallions can range from 1800-2000 pounds. They are cream in color with pink skin, amber eyes, white manes and tails, and may have white markings, which are desirable, particularly around the head. The American Cream movement is smooth and easy, picking up feet and setting squarely on the ground. Their temperament is best described as amiable, easy going, willing, ready to please, and trustworthy.
On the recommendation of D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PHD, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and Chair of Technical Panel, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC), Cream-bred foals that do not meet the Breed Standards are being ‘tracked’. They will be serviced to Creams which we believe will strengthen rather than dilute the cream genes and enable the numbers to increase more rapidly.
Until such time as the books are closed to outside breeding, a Cream mare with dark skin and light mane and tail will be accepted for foundation stock. Stallions must, however, have pink skin and white mane and tail to be accepted for registration.