from the La Perche district of Northern France, the Percheron is
one of the most popular draft horses and is found worldwide. As
with many breeds of horse, the exact roots of the Percheron are
not known, although they are a breed of great antiquity. There has
been evidence recovered of a type of horse, very similar to the
Percheron, having existed in the La Perche area since the Ice Age.
It is likely that Arabian stallions
were crossed with the local native mares during the eighth century
A.D. to lay down the foundations for the breed. Arabian blood has
been repeatedly introduced to the
Percheron over the years, and it is one of the most elegant of the
heavy horses. The
of the Arabian can be seen particularly in the unusually free-flowing
and active stride. The famous Le Pin stud in France was a central
breeding area for the Percheron, and in 1760 was responsible for
importing several Arabian stallions to the stud to cross with the
Percherons. two very influential Arabian stallions were Godolphin
and Gallipoly. Gallipoly sired one of the most famous Percheron
stallions, Jean le Blanc, who foaled in 1830. Breeders of the Percheron
have, over the yeas, been able to alter the bred according to requirements,
which is a testament to their successful breeding.
The Percheron has been used for farm
and draft work, artillery work, as a warhorse, and as a riding horse.
Depending on demand, the Percheron has been bred to be either lighter
and more suited to ridden work, or heavier and more suited to draft
work. Currently, the Percheron is bred primarily as a draft and
farm worker and, due to its outstanding qualities, is often used
on other breeds to improve their stock. For a heavy horse, they
have grace and freedom of movement, and amazing stamina, being able
to travel in trot, on average, and incredible 35 miles a day!
Characteristically they have a very
fine head, which is attributed to the Arabian blood. They have a
well-made neck set onto a good wither, a deep chest, muscled quarters,
and a strong back. Their legs tend to be short and clean with minimal
feathering, and hard bone. Typically they are black or gray and
stand between 15.2 and 17 hh.
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