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A descendant of the ancient north European heavy horses, the Boulonnais is
one of the more elegant French draught horses, found chiefly in the region
between Dunkirk and Le Havre. It is believed to have received infusions of
Eastern blood in the Roman invasion of Britain, later during the time of the
Crusades, Eastern blood was most definitely introduced into the breed and
also some Andalucian blood.
There are two types of Boulonnais - the large (Gros Boulonnais) and the
small (Petit Boulonnais) The Petit Boulonnais became famous for express
deliveries of fresh fish from Boulogne to Paris.
Standing between 15.2h.h. and 16.3h.h. the breed is predominantly grey in
colour, though it may be bay or chestnut. It is probable that the grey
predominance is due to selective breeding, dating back to the times when it
was used as a coach horse and grey was easier to see at night. The
Boulonnais is a sturdy, well-proportioned, heavy horse with active paces. It
has a medium sized handsome head with large eyes, a broad forehead and
shapely pricked ears; the neck is well set and arched with plenty of crest;
the shoulders are strong, broad and sloping with a deep chest; the back is
short and the barrel is broad and round with a deep girth; the quarters are
well muscled, wide and round with a well set tail; the limbs are strong with
relatively small amounts of feather.
It is used in agriculture particularly on small holdings, though it is often
bred for meat.