Ardennes, a French breed, originates from the mountainous
region of the Ardennes bordering France and Belgium,
although there is a Swedish Ardennes and a Belgium Ardennes.
The original Ardennes, the one from France, is the oldest
of them all and can be traced back to accounts by Julius
Caesar in his De Bello Gallico about his conquest
of Gaul. The Ardennes is an ancient cob-type of draft
horse, and is very similar to the remains of the ancient
horse found at Solutre, suggesting a direct descendancy.
The old type of Ardennes
was somewhat lighter than the massive form of today's
type and would have been suitable for riding as well
as draft work. They were widely used during the French
Revolution and even afterward by the French military.
During the Napoleonic Wars they excelled themselves
with great stamina, endurance, and the ability to survive
amid the harshest of conditions. It is quite likely
that the Russian Ardennes was developed from the French
Ardennes that was left behind in Russia during the French
The more modern type, which
can be found today, was developed during the 19th century
and is a larger type of draft horse. They were crossed
with the Boulonnais, the Percheron, The Thoroughbred,
and the Arabian horse breeds and were bred to have greater
strength to cope with very heavy types of draft work.
They are quite good and useful in rough and hilly areas,
where they are extremely surefooted and have a kind
but lively temperament. The Ardennes are also being
bred in Belgium and Sweden, where they have often been
cross-bred with other breeds of draft horses. The Ardennes
is very closely related to the Auxois and to the Trait
du Nord draft horse breeds.
Ardennes' conformation is cob-like, with a strong, compact
body, muscled hindquarters, a thickset neck, and a well-shaped
head. They tend to have a good sloping shoulder which
allowsfp a freedom of movement not usually associated
with the heavy draft horses. The Ardennes are particularly
thickset and are built as powerhouses, with a huge pulling
capacity. They are used as draft animals in Fance, but
are also raised for their meat. They are usually roan
in color, but bay and chestnut are also allowed. The
Ardennes stands between 14.3 and 16 hh.
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