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Percheron Horses
Ever since yesterday's Abyssinian Cat, I've been in a bit of a domesticated animal mood. So today let's learn about one of the most distinct draft horses out there, the Percheron. (And don't be shocked if you see another domesticated breed tomorrow...)

The breed is best known for its grey coloration, and in France and Britain only grey and black horses are allowed to be registered. The United States is a bit more lenient on color-- chestnut, bay, and roan are also allowed. They are strong horses, know for their ruggedness, hard-working attitude, and adaptability.

Percherons are named for Le Perche, a region in France located about 50 miles southwest of Paris. Horses have been breed there for hundreds, if not thousands of years. But like many other ancient breeds, the exact details of the Percherons' ancestry is unknown.

There are a couple of different theories regarding the origins of the Percheron. Some suggest they descend from Roman horses brought in to Brittany around the time of Ceasar. Others argue that their ancestry lies with horses captured by Clovis I in the 5th century, or with Moorish horses taken from the defeated 8th century invaders. That last origin theory may actually be true, as it appears that Arabian blood was brought to the horses of Le Perche twice during the middle ages. The early Percherons were used as horses of war, but as heavy cavalry fell out of style they found other uses in agriculture and transportation as well.

Percheron Team
The decline of heavy cavalry did not diminish the Percherons' role in warfare. In fact, the desire to create swifter army mounts in the late 1700s actually led to the creation of the modern form of the breed, when additional Arabian blood was added to the line. Unfortunately, the horses nearly died out completely during the French Revolution. In the early 1800s breeding continued, and now every single Percheron can trace its ancestry to a foundation sire named Jean Le Blanc, born in 1823.

Percherons were first imported to the United States in 1839, and they flourished there as cart and agricultural horses. By 1930, 70% of all purebred draft horses in the United States were Percherons. They are actually the most popular French Draft breed in the world, and have helped to establish a handful of other draft breeds. They continue to be used in farming and forestry, as well as for advertising, carting,  parade work, dressage, and even jumping!

Status : Domesticated
Location : Developed in France
Size : Height up to 18hands (73in, 1.85m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Perissodactyla
Family : Equidae -- Genus : Equus -- Species : E. ferus -- Subspecies : E. f. caballus


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