The Percheron Horse ~ A Breed Worth Knowing.
Given the opportunity of owning a Percheron horse, or a horse with strong Percheron genetic signs (i.e. a Percheron cross), I’d say, based on my experience, “go for it”! I’m possibly slightly biased in my opinion of the breed as, of the three horses I’ve owned my Percheron/thoroughbred cross, Midnight (“Middie”) stands out as my absolute favourite and a horse I truly came to love.
What makes a Percheron horse so special?
I’ve listed a few of the facts about Percherons that I see as being special …
- An extremely placid and relaxed personality. I found Middie to be what I can only describe as an absolute gentleman. Over the period of nine years of ownership I learned to have absolute trust in Middie and he appeared to have the same regard for me. There were numerous occasions at my Saddle Club when we were requested by the instructor to ride with a club member who was having a very difficult time with a very ‘frisky’ horse. Middie’s presence seemed to have a magical calming affect on the ‘frisky one’.
- The Percheron is proud, alert and has an in-built intelligence and a boldness of character combined with a gentle willingness to perform well under almost all conditions. The encylopedia,Wikipedia, describes Percherons as”easy keepers and easy to work with and train”.
- The Percheron is almost maintenance free, largely due to lack of feathering, a quality coat and excellent feet. In regard to the feet, they are large in size, are extremely hard, and need minimal input from a farrier. I found I could leave Middie unshod for most of the year with no ill effect on his feet.
- It’s a breed with exceptional strength and staying power. It’s said that a Percheron can trot from 7 to 10 miles per hour and has the stamina to do it day in and day out. Not that I ever asked this sort of effort from my horse, Middie!
Background on the history of the Percheron horse.
“The Percheron is a breed of draft horses that originated in the Perche valley in northern France. The Percheron is usually black or grey in colour, often with a white flash on the head, are well-muscled and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. The ancestors of the breed were present in the Perche valley back in the 1600s. They were originally bred for use as a war horse, but over time, they began to be used for pulling stage coaches, and later fror agriculture and hauling heavy goods. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Arabian blood was added to the breed.
“In World War I, Percherons were used extensively by the British. In the 1930s, Percheron horses accounted for around 70% of the draft horse population in the United Sates, but their numbers declined substantially after World War II. However, the population began to recover, and as of 2009, around 2,500 horses are registered anually in the United States alone. (It’s interesting to note that in the late 1800′s the Percheron became America’s favourite horse and almost 5,000 stallions and over 2,500 mares were imported into the USA from France, mostly from the Perche valley area). Today, the breed is still used extensively for draft work. They have been crossed with several light horse breeds to produce lighter horses for range work and competition including such riding disciplines as dressage and show jumping.” *
What’s the availability of the Percheron horse, and what about price?
You’ll find the Percheron’s price range varies tremendously. It will be dependent largely on the availability in your country and the breeding and training of each individual horse. For example, do you want a pure bred Percheron, probably for heavy working activity, or a Percheron crossed with a lighter breed for everyday sporting or pleasure riding.
There are over 290,000 Percherons registered with the Percheron Horse Association of America and they should be able to direct you on where to find Percherons for sale in your area.
In my country, Australia, I’d suggest you contact the Horse Breeders Association of Australia. There will be similar Associations in many other countries to whom you can go for advice and assistance.
* Modified from Wikipedia
Recommended DVD for children who love horses: Saddle Club: Season 1 DVD