The other name is a heavy horse that was developed at more or less the same time in both France and Belgium. Its prehistoric horse pallbearers are evident in the primitive skilful structure of its head including a squared off nose. The history is long and famous they received praise from both Julius Caesar and Herodotus for their hardiness, determination and stamina. The early examples were small broad bodied draught horses and are the foundation of the great horses of the Middle Ages
Development of the Ardennais breed
THE OLD TYPE
five until the 19th century the Ardennais were stocky but quite small to heavy horses in both ridden as was being used as light draught horses. They were used in the French Revolution is artillery horses, even Napoleon used them as transport horses in his Russian campaign of 1812. Of all the horse breeds Napoleon took to Russia they were apparently the only ones capable of withstanding the harsh cold conditions that Napoleon’s army encountered. Right up until the 1970s there were still examples of these hardy lighter Ardennais type horses still in north-eastern France however it does appear that they have now all disappeared
THE MODERN ARDENNAIS
From the start of the 19th century the Ardennais were crossed with Arabs to create a high energy horse. These were then further mixed with Percheron, Boulonnais, and Thoroughbreds to increase size and refinement.
But this time the world was desiring bigger and more powerful horses and thus the larger specimens tended to be used in breeding programs. Three types of Ardennais evolved during this time a relatively small version standing only 15 to 16 hands high the much bigger and more massive Ardennais du Nord, also known as the Trait du Nord, which resulted from outcrosses to the Belgian Draught Horse and the powerful Auxois.
Of these are Ardennais du Nord from Lorraine became the most popular and was referred to as the “the cart-horse of the north”. It has a massive bone structure and a correspondingly strong powerful muscular build. The Auxois from Burgundy is similar in height and bulk to the Ardennais du Nord, but shows clear Percheron and Boulonnais influences.
The horses found large service in the First World War were employed for hauling stores guns and ammunition. The war resulted in huge losses in numbers of the horses leading to the importation of heavy Dutch and Belgian stations though this was I offer a brief period time.
Today, the Ardennais is raised for the horse meat markets of Europe as well as for use as a heavy draught horse.
today’s Ardennais is the most thickset of all the draught horses. It is sometimes jokingly claimed their build played a part in the design role of the tractor they are wide frame short back and massively muscled loins. The headlight feathering on the legs and feet, defeat being comparatively smaller the size especially when compared to other heavy horses. Specially unique to the breed they have small pricked ears. They have excellent shoulder confirmation and their movement is free, sharp and defined.
Being bred in extremely cold winter the area in France, they are very cold resistant and have strong constitutions. As with many of the heavy horse breeds are exceptionally gentle and docile and can be handled easily even by children.
The breed standard stipulates the preferred colours to be
The climate in the French Ardennes in Lorraine, in Champagne, and in the foothills of the Vosges is harsh, and the winters are severe. In consequence the Ardennais is extraordinarily hardy, and has a very strong constitution. The breed has a reputation for extreme docility and exemplary gentleness, and can be handled easily, even by children.
The preferred colors, as stipulated in the breed standard, are roan, red-roan, iron grey, dark or liver chestnut, and bay. Bay-brown, light chestnut, and palomino are admissible, while black, dapple grey, and any other coat colors are not.
They are uncommon outside of France and there are no known individual horses in Australia.