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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
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.