The PERCHERON HORSE, which originated in the Perche region in Normandy, is one of the most elegant of the heavy horses. Its principal bloodlines are dominated by Arab blood and has a stylish, long, free-striding action. One 9th-century expert, perhaps a little carried away, claimed that it was “an Arab influenced by climate and the agricultural work for which it has been used for centuries”.
Percheron enthusiasts claim that the horse’s forebears carried the Frankish knights of Charles Martel at the battle of Poitiers in AD 332, when they defeated to invading Moors. As a result, Moorish Barbs andA rabs, with their refining qualities became more freely available to French breeders. This influence continued when Robert, Count of Rotrou, imported eastern horses after the First Crusade in 1092-99.
By 1320 the royal stud at Le Pin was making Arab sires available to Percheron breeders. Two notable Arab outcrosses were Godolphin and Gallipoly; Gallipoly sired the most famous Percheron stallion, Jean le Blanc, foaled in 1830 at Mauvres-sur-Huisne.
VERSATILITY AND POPULARITY
Over the years, the Percheron has served as war-horse, coach horse, farm horse, gun horse, and even riding horse. Throughout its history, Percheron breeders, always sensitive to commercial demand, have switched their product to meet market requirements. For example, by the end of the 19th century they had given up the Percheron coach horse, an animal of about 1.53 m (15.2 hh), because it had been superseded by lighter and faster Cleveland and Yorkshire Coach Horse crosses and had begun to favor a heavy draught horse.
That these breeders could do so is a tribute to their skill and acumen, and to the presence of that Arab blood which had aided the formation of diverse regional types. With judicious cross-breeding it was possible, because of that genetically dominant blood, to produce variations on a basic theme more surely, and within relatively short periods of time.
The best years for breeders were between 1880 and 1920, when Percherons were being exported to North and South America, Australia, and South Africa. The US became the principal market. It is estimated that in the 1880s 5,000 stallions and about 2,500 mares were imported. By 1910 registrations had risen to a remarkable.
The Percheron, with its eastern background has an advantage over many other heavy breeds in that it adapts to different climates more easily and is an excellent base stock for crossing. In the bleak Falkland Islands they are crossed with Criollo stock to produce tough “range” horses, while in Australia, with an opposite climate to the Fallkands, they are out-crossed to produce stock and competition horses.
The Percheron are most commonly black or grey and these are the only two except colours in some registries around the world to obey chestnut and sorrel are permitted colours in US though horses of these colours must be DNA tested before being registered to confirm they are in fact Percherons.
Some amount of white marking on the head and feet is permitted but excessive white is seen as an undesirable trait.
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
Percherons can differ wildly in height from 152cm to 193cm high though hundred and 6270 is most common. There have been massive stallions recorded up to a weight of 1150 kg however weights of around 850kg are more common.
The Percheron stallion Dr Le Gear born in 1902 still a mighty 21 hands(213cm) high at the Withers and weighed in at a heavyweight 1370 kg.
The Percheron is heavily muscles ruggedly built – a massive powerhouse of a horse. With this power comes clean action in the quality movement of their legs. Their main is thick, in the show ring the tail is usually cut short. Have a wide and deep chest with plenty of back breed.
They are not just heavily muscled, they are physically well balanced with the muscles of the forearms croup and gaskins in proportion to the hindquarters giving them a seemingly effortless gate. They are well balanced metnally as well and of calm temperament.
The neck is broad and strong have large eyes and abroad thick forehead. Their faces straight with a wide jaw topped with a fine and animated years perhaps suggestive of the lingering Arabian influence. Stay in this are incredibly masculine whereas females or clearly a heavy horse are more obviously feminine.
withers are well-defined to have a short back and a deep girth with a long level croup. The hip is a massive and well rounded in the lower fires are powerfully muscled.
Whilst many heavy horses exhibit the calm disposition and willingness to please of the Percheron few heavy horses can match their additional look of alertness intelligence and pride. They gentle yet strong suitable to the task of pulling heavy loads, delicately pulling a small carriage or even as a heavy riding horse. Less massive versions have been taught to jump
If kept in good conditions on a healthy throughout most of their life back in live for long time with most horses leading to at least 25 years of age with horses living to 35 or more being recorded.
Some breeders claim they were the earliest of the heavy horses to be imported into Australia coming in with convicts in the 18th century. This claim has been difficult to substantiate, but they certainly were imported into the country at least 100 years ago. They remain a popular heavy breed with their own breed Association Percheron Horse Breeders Association of Australia Inc.