One of the most famous of present day draft horses has to be the Percheron. Known to have an elegance that most heavy horses lack, this French horse owes much of its grace to its oriental background. The horse has excellent action and has been used in a variety of working situations including farm, coach, and even under saddle. Partially due to its grace, partially to its excellent character, the Percheron has been distributed all over the world.
The Percheron stands between 15 and 17.2 hands high. Gray or black in color, the Percheron has a fine head with straight face and intelligent eyes. The neck is strong and crested. It has prominent withers and sloped shoulder, dissimilar to most draft breeds. Deep in the chest and in the girth with round, immensely strong hind quarters. Medium to short legs that are massive and hard with almost no feather. For such a massive horse, the Percheron is known for its grace and great poise.
Ancestors of the Percheron have existed and have been documented in the Le Perche region of Normandy since before the Muslim invasion. It was, in fact, on these great war horses that the knights of Charles Martel stopped the invasion in 732 AD. Eastern blood entered into the line in the 11th century and Arab blood entered in 1760. Even with the cross of Arabians, they lost none of their size and gained the obvious refined oriental character seen today.
The Percheron has always created enthusiastic breeding practices. In France, its native country, to be included in the Percheron stud book it must be bred in one of the four Departments of the region of Perche: Sarthe, Eure-et-Cher, Loire-et-Cher, and L'Orne. Other Percheron types are bred in other regions of France and throughout the world, but they are listed in separate stud books.
1. Oriental 2. Norman