Breeds of Horses - A to Z
A surprisingly active, heavily built draught or carriage horse. The Breton
originated in Brittany in north-west France. In the Middle Ages two types
were known the Sommier and the Roussin; the Sommier originated from the
north of Brittany and was used for pack and agricultural work; the Roussin
was found more in the south of the region and was used as a riding horse.
The Breton has emerged over time, largely as a result of crossing it with
several other breeds, into three distinctive types; the Trait Breton or
Breton Draught standing at 15.3-16.3h.h., the Petit Trait Breton or small
Breton Draught standing at 14.3-15.2h.h., and the Postier Breton or
Coach-horse Breton standing at about the same height as the Trait but of a
lighter build, this type was produced by an infusion of Norfolk Roadster
blood in the nineteenth century. The Corlay, an even lighter type of
carriage or riding horse, is very rarely seen now (it might possibly be
extinct), it was produced by an infusion of Arab and Thoroughbred blood.
The Breton is an attractive horse with good conformation; it has a squarish
head with a straight profile, wide nostrils, bright eyes and small ears; a
short, strong neck; shortish, sloping shoulders, a short back and broad
body; round, wide, well muscled quarters and a well set tail; short strong
limbs with well muscled thighs and forearms. It is often chestnut in colour
though it is sometimes red roan, grey or bay. It is renowned to have a
willing and kind temperament; active, vigorous action, particularly at trot
and to be a hardy, adaptable animal.
Today in France the breed is valued not only as a draught animal, but in the
meat trade for the high quality and quantity of meat it produces. It may be
seen in smallholdings, working the land and in the vineyards. Owing to the
Bretons particular and numerous qualities it has also been exported for
upgrading other breeds, to Italy, Spain and Japan.