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French Breeds of Horse

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Percheron




This horse takes its name from the Perche region in France where it originated. Only horses from the area - Sarthe, Eure et Loir, Loir et Cher and Orne, are admissible in the Percheron Stud Book. Considering it's overall size and weight it is light on its feet and free moving, reflecting it's Arab ancestry. The oriental influence began with Arabians brought to Europe by the Moors. The introduction of Arab blood is believed to have started following the defeat of the Moors by Charles Martel near Poiters in AD 732. Then again in 1099, after the First Crusade, Robert Comte de Rotrou imported more Arab blood. During the eighteenth century the Royal Stud at Le Pin made their Arab stallions available to Percheron breeders and the eastern influence has continued to improve the breed until comparatively recent times. Jean le Blanc is one of the most influential early Percheron stallions. He was foaled in about 1830 and was by Gallipoly, an Arab stallion.

The Percheron is a strong and courageous horse. The average height is about 16.1h.h. but it usually ranges from 15.2 h.h. to 17.h.h. However, one of the tallest horses on record was a Percheron called Dr Le Gear (foaled in 1902) he stood at 21h.h. and weighed just under 27 cwt. The breed colour is Grey or Black. The black coat being favoured by the North Americans where it has been a popular choice of heavy horse. The Percheron has a fine head with a broad flat forehead, with prominent, intelligent eyes, long well shaped ears, a straight profile with a flat nose and open nostrils; a long, fairly thick, arched neck; a good strong sloping shoulder; a very broad deep chest; a short straight back; an extremely deep girth and well sprung ribs; powerful sloping hindquarters with long muscular thighs; strong shortish limbs with large knees and hocks, powerful forearms and strong though comparatively small fetlock joints with no feather; good, strong, hard feet.

It has excellent action; unlike most heavy horses the paces are low and elegant. A docile, amiable nature making it easily trainable to either harness or saddle. Over the years the Percheron has been used as a warhorse, riding horse, carriage horse and for working the land. Because it is extremely versatile, hardy and adaptable to climatic change, it has been exported to England, Australia, (probably the first heavy horses to be taken there) South America and North America, where it is one of the most favoured larger breeds.



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