The Percheron is a draft horse, of course, of French origin. Percherons were originally bred as war horses, then they were used to pull stage coaches and agricultural machinery. They’re big, strong-muscled horses, usually grey or black, and are recognised for their intelligence and easy nature.
In the late 18th century, they were crossed with Arabs to add a little lightness and speed. This is something I’ve only just discovered. Early Percherons must have looked even stronger and stockier than their modern counterparts.
Before the First World War, the breed became popular in the USA and thousands were shipped out. This stopped though during the war, when Percherons were needed as war horses once again. Some were even shipped back to join the fighting. It was a bad time to be a big horse!
In 1918 breeding began in the UK and the British Percheron Horse Society came into being.
After a few ups and downs, Percherons are now pretty popular again in the US, where 2,500 are newly registered each year. And they are still used extensively as draft horses – though the French breed them for food.
Nowadays, when Sport Horses are so popular, the Percheron has been cross-bred with lighter breeds like Thoroughbreds and Arabs to produce competition horses. But purebreds are still used extensively for pulling carriages and you can see from the picture at the top of this post that they also make good police horses.
My Bayside was half Percheron
If you own a Percheron or a cross-bred Percheron, I’d love to hear from. You can contact me here