Last Updated on October 23, 2021
Whether you’re completely mad about horses or just like to learn about them, you won’t fail to be impressed by the statuesque power of Percheron horses. This magnificent draft breed is one of the largest and strongest breeds of the equine world. Let’s find out all about these amazing horses with our Percheron horse facts!
What Is A Percheron Horse?
The Percheron is a type of horse known as a draft horse. A draft horse is one that was traditionally used for heavy work, such as pulling loads and dragging farm machinery and logs.
Unlike other draft breeds such as the Clydesdale and Shire, the Percheron is slightly lighter in stature. This is due to the influence of other breeds such as the Arabian during the long history of this breed.
This makes the Percheron much more refined and elegant than other types of draft breeds. They do not have the heavy leg feathers commonly seen on draft breeds, and their stance and movement are prouder and less cumbersome.
However, don’t underestimate the size and strength of the Percheron Horse! They are very tall and have incredibly muscular legs. They have a thick mane and tail, which is normally wavy in texture.
When it comes to personality, the Percheron is more lively and energetic than other draft breeds, probably due to the Arabian bloodlines! They are kind and easy to train, with high levels of intelligence.
Where Do Percherons Come From?
The beautiful Percheron horse originates from France, in the Normandy region. The origins of this breed are slightly vague, but it is thought that the Percheron can count several different horse breeds amongst its ancestors.
The earliest Percherons were most likely a cross between large Flemish draft breeds and the tough Barb horses of the Middle East. Later, Arabian bloodlines were used to give the Percheron a more athletic and refined appearance.
During the 1800s, the French government realized the potential of the Percheron as a cavalry horse. They carried out a breeding program specifically to breed Percheron horses for use by the army.
By the mid-1800s, the popularity of Percherons was spreading around the world. They quickly became the most popular draft horse breed in the U.S. However, when tractors and cars came into use, the Percheron horse population started to dwindle.
Luckily, fans of this breed have kept them from extinction, even though their use has been reduced with the advent of mechanization. The Percheron Horse Association of American has more than 3,000 members, covering all 50 U.S states.
What Do Percheron Horses Do?
Percheron horses were originally bred as war horses, as they had the perfect combination of strength and agility. However, they soon became popular as working horses in peacetime, as they were easy to train as well as strong.
Farmers and haulers preferred this draft breed for work such as hauling logs, pulling plows, and carting heavy loads. However, in modern times the vast majority of these types of jobs are performed by machines.
Today, you are more likely to see Percherons carrying out work as part of the leisure industry. They are popular for carriage driving, pulling sleighs, and for hayrides on farms.
Percherons can be used for riding, although they are too large for a lot of riders. They can be ridden in both English and Western styles of riding. Surprisingly, they often excel at dressage, as they have a refined movement and enchanting presence in the arena.
What Is The Average Percheron Horse Height?
So, if Percherons are more elegant than other draft breeds, does this mean they are not as tall?
No – this breed of horse is still one of the biggest in the world! The average height of a Percheron is between 16.2 and 17.3 hands high – this is not a small breed! A Percheron would tower over most other breeds of horse.
And when it comes to weight, these magnificent horses are truly enormous. With an average weight of 1900 to 2600 pounds, they are certainly no lightweight! Mature stallions come in at the top end of this scale, while mares and gelding are lighter.
Remarkable Percheron Horse Facts
- The name Percheron stems from this breed’s origins in the province of Le Perche, near Normandy, France.
- All Percheron bloodlines can be traced to a horse born in 1823, named Jean La Blanc.
- Only grey Percherons are permitted on the French Percheron breed register. Grey horses are normally born black and turn grey as they age.
- A Percheron will normally eat at least 30 pounds of hay every day.
- Modern-day Percherons are larger than their 17th-century counterparts. They have gone from an average of 15 to 16 hands high up to nearly 17 hands high.
- When used as a warhorse, the Percheron was popular with Knights, as they could carry a rider and heavy armor with ease.
- The first Percheron stallion to be imported to the U.S was called Diligence. He reportedly sired over 400 foals, and three of these form part of the foundation stock of the American Percheron studbook.
- During the height of the Percheron’s popularity, the American Percheron studbook was registering over 10,000 horses per year.
- Percheron horses have a relatively small head for a draft breed. Their facial features are refined, with small pointed ears.
- The neck of the Percheron horse is naturally arched.
- The Heinz hitch of Percherons is one of the most famous horse teams in the U.S. This magnificent team has appeared on numerous occasions at the Tournament of Roses Parade.
So, as we have learned, the Percheron horse is a powerful and beautiful breed of horse that was originally bred as a warhorse. They are very intelligent and eager to please, making them easy to handle and train. Traditionally, Percherons were used for hauling heavy loads and for farm work.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about our Percheron horse facts. Have you ever met one of these elegant giants of the horse world? Or maybe you have been lucky enough to work with a Percheron horse? Please add a comment below!
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE