That question has many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to it. Some of these are the weight of the horse, conditioning of the horse, type of vehicle, type of terrain travelling on, gravel or paved roads, and how hilly is the terrain. As a horse owner, you need to take all of this into consideration while using the guides below.

Here is a general guide to determining what weight a horse can comfortably pull.


Horse owners can use a general guide to determine what weight a horse can comfortably pull.

When hitched to a wheeled vehicle or loaded on a flat, smooth surface, a single horse can

pull three times its body weight. For example, if a horse weighs 1,000 pounds, it can pull 3,000

pounds. When you add hills into the equation, the maximum weight decreases to two times the

horse’s body weight or less.

The two-times body weight rule also comes into play when the road condition worsens, such as

on gravel or dirt tracks. When you are on very bad surfaces, such as sand or in the mountains, a

horse should only pull a load that is equal to its body weight or lower.

You may come across different opinions on the maximum weight a horse can pull on wheels.

Contradicting the above rule, some say horses can actually pull six times their body weight on a

good road. This means that in reality, a 1,000-pound horse could pull 6,000 pounds, but this

would only be feasible for a short period. The lighter the load, the further the horse will be able

to travel.


You will frequently see larger carriages or heavier wagons being pulled by a pair or team of

horses. Increasing the number of horses significantly increases the weight they can pull, sharing

the workload between the horses. When you add a second horse to make a team of two, they can

pull three times as much on wheels as a single horse.

For example, if a single horse can pull 1,000 pounds, putting two horses together increases the

total load to 3,000 pounds – a great way to improve the energy efficiency of these magnificent


When you add even more horses, the weight they can pull on wheels increases to an impressive

amount. For example, the Budweiser Clydesdales pull their famous wagon in a team of eight

horses. When their wagon is fully loaded, it weighs 12 tons – that is 24,000 pounds!