Poitevin horse

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Poitevin
Leonardo 11, Poitevin stallion.jpg
Conservation status FAO (2007): endangered-maintained [1] :44
Other names
  • Cheval du Poitou
  • Mulassier
  • Trait Mulassier
  • Poitevin Mulassier
  • Trait Poitevin Mulassier
Country of originFrance
Distribution Poitou
Usebreeding mules
Traits
Weight
  • 700–900 kg [2] :496
Height
  • 1.53–1.73 m [2] :496
  • Male:
    minimum 1.65 m [3]
  • Female:
    minimum 1.60 m [3]
Colourany colour but pied
Stallion shown in hand at the Paris International Agricultural Show in 2012 Poitevin-mulassier06 SDA2012.JPG
Stallion shown in hand at the Paris International Agricultural Show in 2012

The Poitevin (French pronunciation:  [pwat(ə)vɛ̃] ) or Poitou is a French breed of draft horse. It is named for its area of origin, the former province of Poitou in west-central France, now a part of the region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It was formed in the seventeenth century when horses of Flemish or Dutch origin, brought to the area by engineers working to drain the Marais Poitevin, interbred with local horses. Although it has the size and conformation of a draft horse, the Poitevin has never been bred for draft abilities, and has been little used for draft work. Its principal traditional use was the production of mules. Poitevin mares were put to jacks of the large Baudet du Poitou breed of donkey; the resulting Poitevin mules were in demand for agricultural and other work in many parts of the world, including Russia and the United States. [4] :271 In the early twentieth century there were some 50,000 brood mares producing between 18,000 and 20,000 mules per year. [5] :156

Draft horse A type of horse or a horse breed bred to be a working animal doing heavy labor

A draft horse (US), draught horse or dray horse, less often called a carthorse, work horse or heavy horse, is a large horse bred to be a working animal doing hard tasks such as plowing and other farm labor. There are a number of breeds, with varying characteristics, but all share common traits of strength, patience, and a docile temperament which made them indispensable to generations of pre-industrial farmers.

Provinces of France Former subdivisions of France

France was organized into provinces until March 4, 1790, when the establishment of the department system superseded provinces. The provinces of France were roughly equivalent to the historic counties of England. They came into their final form over the course of many hundreds of years, as many dozens of semi-independent fiefs and former independent countries came to be incorporated into the French royal domain. Because of the haphazard manner in which the provinces evolved, each had its own sets of feudal traditions, laws, taxation systems, courts, etc., and the system represented an impediment to effective administration of the entire country from Paris. During the early years of the French Revolution, in an attempt to centralize the administration of the whole country, and to remove the influence of the French nobility over the country, the entirety of the province system was abolished and replaced by the system of departments in use today.

Poitou Place in France

Poitou was a province of west-central France whose capital city was Poitiers.

Contents

The Poitevin is an endangered breed; [1] :44 in 2011 there were just over 300 breeding animals, of which about 40 were stallions. [2] :496 The horses may be of any solid coat color, including striped dun, a color not seen in other French draft horses. The Poitevin is a slow-growing breed with heavy bone, and is not suitable for meat production.

Stallion male horse that has not been castrated

A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded (castrated). Stallions follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to female horses, known as mares, and castrated males, called geldings.

Equine coat color Horse coat colors and markings

Horses exhibit a diverse array of coat colors and distinctive markings. A specialized vocabulary has evolved to describe them.

History

The Poitevin originated in the marshlands of the Charente and the Vendée [6] :396 in the seventeenth century, when horses of Flemish or Dutch origin, brought to the area by engineers working on land drainage, interbred with local horses.

Charente Department of France

Charente is a department in western France, north half of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is named after the Charente River, the most important river in the department, and also the river beside which the department's two largest towns, Angoulême and Cognac, are sited.

Vendée Department of France

The Vendée is a department in the Pays-de-la-Loire region in west-central France, on the Atlantic Ocean. The name Vendée is taken from the Vendée river which runs through the southeastern part of the department.

Land drainage in the UK has a specific and particular meaning as a result of a number of Acts of Parliament such as the Land Drainage Act 1991. In this context, land drainage refers to the responsibilities and activities of "internal drainage districts" and "internal drainage boards", both of which are specifically defined by relevant legislation. The land drainage responsibilities of the boards and districts are limited to works on main rivers. Such works encompass any reasonable activity to maintain an adequate channel in the river to carry a 1 in 100 year river flow event. Such activities may include dredging, weed clearing, the raising of flood embankments etc.

On 1 January 1599, Henri IV of France appointed Humphrey Bradley, an English land drainage engineer from Brabant, maître des digues du royaume, or "master of dykes of the Kingdom", which essentially gave him a monopoly of all dyking and land reclamation work throughout the country. [7] [8] :100 Bradley also enjoyed the support of Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully, chief minister to the king. [7] Early in the seventeenth century he contracted to drain parts of the Marais de Saintonge, but was not able to carry the work forward until after 1607, when the Société générale de desséchement des marais et lacs de France was formed by royal edict. He did not himself direct the work, but entrusted it to two brothers, Marc and Jérome de Comans. They brought a good number of workers from the Low Countries; by about 1610 the area between Muron and Tonnay-Charente had come to be known as the Marais de la Petite-Flandre, the "marsh of little Flanders". [9] :81 It is believed that a number of working horses were also brought from the Low Countries, possibly of Brabant, Flemish or Friesian type. [10] Drainage of the Marais Poitevin, the marshlands of Poitou, did not begin before 1640, by which time Bradley is thought to have died. [9] :82 [7] Horses were brought to the area from Germany in about 1685. [9] :102 Interbreeding between these various imported horses and local stock of indeterminate type led to the development of the Poitevin, a large, heavy, slow horse well adapted to marshy terrain. [11] :176 [12] :30 [10] [13]

Humphrey Bradley was an English land drainage engineer, active from about 1584 to 1625. He may have been the son of John Bradley of Bergen op Zoom in Brabant, then in the Dutch Republic, and Anna van der Delft.

Duchy of Brabant State of the Holy Roman Empire

The Duchy of Brabant was a State of the Holy Roman Empire established in 1183. It developed from the Landgraviate of Brabant and formed the heart of the historic Low Countries, part of the Burgundian Netherlands from 1430 and of the Habsburg Netherlands from 1482, until it was partitioned after the Dutch revolt.

Monopoly Market structure with a single firm dominating the market

A monopoly exists when a specific person or enterprise is the only supplier of a particular commodity. This contrasts with a monopsony which relates to a single entity's control of a market to purchase a good or service, and with oligopoly which consists of a few sellers dominating a market. Monopolies are thus characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, and the possibility of a high monopoly price well above the seller's marginal cost that leads to a high monopoly profit. The verb monopolise or monopolize refers to the process by which a company gains the ability to raise prices or exclude competitors. In economics, a monopoly is a single seller. In law, a monopoly is a business entity that has significant market power, that is, the power to charge overly high prices. Although monopolies may be big businesses, size is not a characteristic of a monopoly. A small business may still have the power to raise prices in a small industry.

At the end of the eighteenth century, the French government tried to impose a system of crossing Poitevin horses with lighter-weight Norman and Thoroughbred horses to create cavalry horses. Despite financial incentives, [3] private breeders protested because they felt that the resulting crossbred horses created poor quality mules upon further breeding. The changes also affected the characteristics of the breed that had been developed for work in its marshy homeland, [14] :14–16 including large hooves and a calm manner. Some sources argue that at this point the breed was employed for agricultural and logging uses. [15] :123 [12] :30 Others state that they were not pulling horses, and were instead used almost solely for the production of mules. [11] :176

Thoroughbred Horse breed developed for racing

The Thoroughbred is a horse breed best known for its use in horse racing. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. Thoroughbreds are considered "hot-blooded" horses that are known for their agility, speed, and spirit.

Cavalry soldiers or warriors fighting from horseback

Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, horseman, dragoon, or trooper. The designation of cavalry was not usually given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which later evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title.

Production of mules

Poitevin mares were crossbred with Poitou donkeys to create the famous Poitou mule, a large, hardy breed. As mules are hybrids, and thus sterile, they can only be created through crossing a donkey and a horse. [16] :28 The industry of mule breeding in Poitou has existed since at least the eighteenth century, when it was opposed by the government stud farm administration that was attempting to breed cavalry horses for French troops. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the government prohibited breeding mules from mares taller than 120 cm (11.3 h), and threatened to castrate all donkeys in the region. [14] :14–16 In the 1860s Eugene Gayot  [ fr ] noted that the heavy mares from the Poitou marshes produced the best mules, probably because of their heavy bone structure. [11] :178 [17]

Hybrid (biology) offspring of cross-species reproduction

In biology, a hybrid is the offspring resulting from combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera through sexual reproduction. Hybrids are not always intermediates between their parents, but can show hybrid vigour, sometimes growing larger or taller than either parent. The concept of a hybrid is interpreted differently in animal and plant breeding, where there is interest in the individual parentage. In genetics, attention is focused on the numbers of chromosomes. In taxonomy, a key question is how closely related the parent species are.

Sterility is the physiological inability to effect sexual reproduction in a living thing, members of whose kind have been produced sexually. Sterility has a wide range of causes. It may be an inherited trait, as in the mule; or it may be acquired from the environment, for example through physical injury or disease, or by exposure to radiation.

Stud farm establishment for selective breeding of livestock (cattle, horses, etc.)

A stud farm or stud in animal husbandry is an establishment for selective breeding of livestock. The word "stud" comes from the Old English stod meaning "herd of horses, place where horses are kept for breeding". Historically, documentation of the breedings that occur on a stud farm leads to the development of a stud book. Male animals made available for breeding to outside female animals are said to be "standing at stud", or at "stud service", referencing the relatively high probability that they are kept at a stud farm.

Although the Poitevin was not the only breed of horse used for the production of mules, the Poitou mule was known worldwide. [18] [19] They were in high demand in the United States from the late nineteenth century until the beginning of World War I. [16] :28 During the 1920s, livestock production began to decline. [14] :2 In the Deux-Sèvres region, especially in the district of Melle, near Luçon and Saint-Maixent, mule breeding began to be concentrated in ateliers (workshops), which were relatively expensive for breeders. [16] :28 [18]

Nineteenth century

Poitevin colts and fillies were sold at fairs in Marans, Nuaillé, Surgères, Rochefort, Pont-l'Abbé and Saujon. [6] :396 In 1867, there were 50,000 pure and crossbred mares. [14] :18 By the early twentieth century, there were tens of thousands of Poitevins in France, [15] :125 but numbers later fell. [14] :18 Poitevin colts, which were not used for the breeding of mules, were considered "soft" and less valuable than the major draft horse breed of the nineteenth century – the Percheron. Some horse dealers purchased young gray Poitevin horses, fed them heavily to make them larger and stronger, and then sold them at the age of four as Percherons. These "Percherons" were transported to areas such as Saintonge, Yonne, Nivernais and Gâtinais. [20] :533

Poitevin stallion in an engraving of 1877 Etalon mulassier.jpg
Poitevin stallion in an engraving of 1877

In the nineteenth century the Poitevin received some intromission of other blood: early in the century, a few Percheron stallions were introduced to the breeding area; between 1860 and 1867, about ten Bourbourienne stallions were used; in the middle years of the century, more substantial use was made of Breton stallions, a practice supported by some breeders and criticised by others. [3] The Breton influence tended to make the head more square and the ears shorter; [17] :561 [18] the Poitevin lost weight without gaining anything else, the legs became too long and too thin, and gray became more common as a coat color. [17] :561 In 1860, Eugene Gayot called the mares of the breed "heavy, common, soft and of medium size". [18] Breeders chose horses with large joints, thick coats and a high croup, and had a preference for a black coat color. [6] :396 [18]

In 1861, there were concerns that the old-style Poitevin was becoming extinct, and questions about whether the Poitou mule retained the quality that it previously had. [21] The large Poitevin mares became rarer, due to large amounts of crossbreeding and a lack of care shown towards breeding stock selection. [14] :14–16 Thoroughbreds and Thoroughbred crosses, especially at the stud farms in Saint-Maixent and La Roche-sur-Yon, created the Anglo-Poitevin type, a half-blood used by the army. The continued draining of the marshes also influenced the breed. [17] Many Poitevins at this point were actually a mix of Breton and old-type Poitevin bloodstock. However, a distinction persisted between the real Poitevin and mixed-blood horses, and farmers who preferred the former preserved the type, which formed the base for the creation of the breed studbook. [14] :14–16

An 1861 illustration of an Anglo-Poitevin AngloPoitevine.jpg
An 1861 illustration of an Anglo-Poitevin

The studbook for the Poitevin horse was created by the Société Centrale d'Agriculture des Deux-Sèvres on June 26, 1884, [16] :44 with a horse section and a donkey section. [22] The first edition was released December 31, 1885, [16] :44 setting the physical criteria for breeding, and ending the practice of promoting crossbred horses as purebreds. It also marked the end of government intervention against the mule breeding industry, although bonuses were paid to encourage farmers to breed purebred horses. [14] :14–16 In 1902, a breeding syndicate to promote Poitou mules was created, but disappeared after a lack of advertising by stock breeders. On August 6, 1912, the French government released a decree officially supporting the mule breeding industry, backed by the purchase of mules by the Haras Nationaux and bonuses given to the best stallions. [14] :16, 23

Twentieth century

After several revisions, the studbook was closed in 1922 after registering 424 foundation horses. The closing of the studbook brought about additional purebred breeding and selection based on conformation, color and working ability. [14] :14–16 In 1923, an association of Poitevin breeders was founded, [15] :125 but declining livestock production pushed the group to reorganize in 1937 in order to gain more support from the government, through bonuses and subsidies. [14] :14–16

In the first half of the twentieth century, the mule breeding industry collapsed with the advent of mechanization. [15] :125 By 1922, Poitevin foals became difficult to sell, [14] :18 and the population dropped dramatically as there was no economic incentive for breeding. A continued breeding of mules caused the breed to decline faster than other draft breeds, as purebred horses were not bred as often. [12] :30 By 1945, breed selection was oriented towards the production of meat, as the only remaining economic opportunity for farmers. [14] :14–16 The conformation of the breed changed slightly to become shorter, but the Poitevin remained unprofitable for horse meat, as breeders preferred to invest in herds of Comtois and Breton horses, which were faster growing and higher yielding. [14] :18

By 1950, there were only about 600 mares and 50 stallions left. Increasing mechanization and competition with other livestock hurt the Poitevin, [14] :18 as did a lack of promotion and protection. Between 1970 and 1990, the population of the Poitevin varied between 250 and 300 animals, with an average of 20 new horses entering the studbook each year. [14] :19–20 By the early 1990s, population numbers fell to the lowest in history. [3] [11] :179 Sources are unclear on the number of living Poitevins in the early 1990s, but by 1996 one author says there were 64 newly registered foals and 28 approved breeding stallions, [23] :390 while another gives a total population of 293 horses in 1997. [14] :20

Conservation and genetic testing

The breed owes its survival to a small group of enthusiasts, working with the French National Stud. [12] :30 A genetic study performed in 1994 revealed a genetic bottleneck in the mid-1900s, with the entire modern population of Poitevins tracing to one stallion, named Québec, foaled in 1960. There is a significant risk of inbreeding, leading the Unité Nationale de Sélection et de Promotion de Race to promote a plan of managed breeding in 1998. [12] :30 At the same time, crossbreeding with Friesian and Belgian horses was suggested to increase genetic diversity using morphologically and historically similar breeds. [15] :125 The French government distributes bonuses to the owners of the best stallions, a program more important to the Poitevin than to other draft breeds because of the significant possibility of extinction. [14] :23

The Poitevin had a slight increase in popularity at the beginning of the twenty-first century, [15] :125 and could count approximately 100 farms perpetuating the breed. [16] :28 The association had around 300 members, as well as 83 stallions and 189 mares registered. [15] :125 However, by 2006, the Poitevin was still considered the most endangered French horse breed, with less than 100 births per year [12] :30 and a slightly decreasing population. [11] :180 There is almost no crossbreeding done with outside breeds, in order to maintain the numbers of purebred stock. [12] :30 In 2008, a second genetic study was conducted in partnership with the Institut national de la recherche agronomique; this study considered the Poitevin and four other French breeds to be endangered. It suggested making these breeds a conservation priority in order to maintain maximum genetic diversity among the French horse population. [24]

The studbook for the Poitevin is based in Niort, [14] :23 and the breed is the subject of a conservation breeding plan, the goal of which is to eventually revive the production of Poitevin mules. The conservation plan includes an experimental infusion of blood from the Boulonnais, and is followed by 70 percent of breeders. [11] :180 A breeders' association, the Association nationale des races mulassières du Poitou, is authorised by the French ministry of agriculture to manage the joint studbook for the Poitevin horse, the Baudet du Poitou and the Poitevin mule. [25] There is an annual breed show in Poitou. [15] :125

The Poitevin breed has very low numbers. In 2011, there were 71 new foals registered with the studbook. The same year, 227 mares were covered, with 171 being bred to Poitevin stallions. There were 33 stallions registered and 80 active breeders. These numbers represent a decrease from the previous year. Over the past decade, the highest number of foals registered was 113 in 2008, and between 80 and 90 foals were registered in the other years. [13] The majority of breeding farms are located in the Poitou area, including Vendée (especially around Fontenay-le-Comte and Luçon), Deux-Sèvres (especially near Melle), Vienna and Civray, and some in Charente, near Ruffec. There are National Studs located in Saintes and Vendée. [11] :176, 180 There are a few breeders in Maine-et-Loire. [26] :124

The Poitevin can be seen at the Asinerie nationale de la Tillauderie, an experimental farm in Dampierre-sur-Boutonne in Charente-Maritime, [15] :125 and at the Haras national de Saintes. [27] :296 It is shown at the annual Paris International Agricultural Show. [15] :125 Approximately a dozen horses are exported each year, mainly to Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Some stallions have been exported; there is a breeder in Sweden, and another in the United States. [3]

Characteristics

The head and forequarters Poitevin-mulassier05 SDA2012.JPG
The head and forequarters

The body of the Poitevin is slender for a heavy horse and longer than other French draft breeds. It stands about 165 cm (16.1 hands ) at the withers; [11] :175 minimum height for at five years old is 165 cm (16.1 h) for males and 160 cm (15.3 h) for mares. [3] It is slow-growing, reaching maturity around 6 to 7 years. [28]

The head is long and strong, [29] with a convex profile [15] :125 and thick, long ears. [28] The neck is long and the shoulders are sloping. The chest is broad and deep, the withers prominent, the back long and broad, [29] and the hindquarters strong. The legs are well developed and powerful, [28] with large joints. [29] The Poitevin has large hooves, an advantage in wet environments, as an adaptation to the alternately hard and waterlogged marshes upon which it developed. [13] The lower legs are well feathered, [11] :178 and the mane and tail are long and thick. [11] :177 [28] The Poitevin is gentle, calm [28] and robust. [15] :125 Historically the breed has been known for its slow movement and disinterest in pulling, although it can produce significant power if necessary. [14] :17 The breed enjoys human contact, and shows intelligence, although it can also be stubborn. Prolonged effort is its weak point, as the Poitevin sometimes lack endurance. [28]

The Poitevin may be any solid color, with minimum of white markings; pied horses cannot be registered. [3] The wide range of coat colors may be partly the result of the many breeds that influenced it: black and seal brown (French: noir pangaré) may derive from Flemish and Friesian horses, bay roan was probably inherited from the Brabant breed, while chestnut and chestnut roan may result from the Breton influence; gray and bay are also common. [11] :178 [28] Unusually, the Poitevin may also be striped bay dun, tan-colored with black mane and tail and primitive markings; this may derive from Spanish horses in the ancestry of the Flemish horses brought to Poitou in the seventeenth century. [11] :178 No other French draft horse displays this color. [28]

Uses

Although the Poitevin has the size and conformation of a draft horse, it has never been bred for draft abilities, and has been little used for draft work. [11] :176 From the seventeenth century until about the time of the First World War, its principal use was the production of mules. Poitevin mares were put to jacks of the large Baudet du Poitou breed of donkey. The resulting Poitevin mules were highly regarded, and from the latter part of the nineteenth century were in demand for agricultural and other work in many parts of the world, including Russia and the United States. [4] :271 [16] :28 In the early twentieth century there were some 50,000 brood mares producing between 18,000 and 20,000 mules per year. [5] :156

As colts had no rôle in mule production, many were sold as two-year-olds, sometimes at the summer fair in the Vendée and the winter fair in Saint-Maixent, or to horse merchants in Berry, Beauce, the Perche and the Midi; in these areas, they were used for agriculture. In Paris, they were used for pulling omnibuses, while the French military used them for pulling artillery. [17] :561

In the twenty-first century there is still demand for Poitevin mules, but under the recovery plan for the breed, preference is given to mating mares with Poitevin stallions until numbers have recovered. [11] :179 [3]

The Poitevin may be ridden, or driven in harness, both in competition and for pleasure; [13] [15] :124 [3] it is suitable for equine therapy. [30] It has occasionally been used for light agricultural work in vineyards, [30] in movies, [31] :252 as a mount for forest monitors (in Melun), [28] harnessed for urban work (in Poitier and Niort), [3] and for the collection of waste (on the Île de Ré). [32] :15 It may be used for vegetation management: in 1994 the departmental council of Ille-et-Vilaine bought a herd for maintainance of marshlands in the area. [3]

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The Mérens, Cheval de Mérens or Caballo de Merens, still occasionally referred to by the older name of Ariégeois pony, is a small, rustic horse native to the Pyrenees and Ariégeois mountains of southern France, where the Ariège River flows, and northern Spain, near Andorra. Two general types, a small, light traditional mountain horse and a taller, sportier modern type, are found. Always black in color, Mérens must meet strict physical standards in order to be registered in the stud book. The breed is known for its sure-footedness on mountain terrain, as well as for its endurance, hardiness and docility. The French breed registry organizes regional offices, and partners with other national organizations in Europe to preserve and promote the breed. The organization enforces rigorous selection of breeding stock, with a goal of increasing quality in the breed. In the past, the Mérens was used for farm work, draft work and as pack horses. Today it is mainly used as a saddle horse, although some members of the breed have been successful in carriage driving. Many Mérens are taken on an annual transhumance, in which they are moved higher in the mountains during the summer and into the valleys for the winter. An old practice, it fell into disfavor, but has recently re-emerged.

Baudet du Poitou French breed of donkey

The Baudet du Poitou, also called the Poitevin or Poitou donkey, is a French breed of donkey. It is one of the largest breeds, and jacks were bred to mares of the Poitevin horse breed to produce Poitevin mules, which were formerly in worldwide demand for agricultural and other work. The Baudet has a distinctive coat, which hangs in long, ungroomed locks or cadenettes.

Anglo-Norman horse warmblood horse breed developed in Lower Normandy in the early 19th century, with influences from Thoroughbred, local Norman blood, and British and Russian trotting horses

The Anglo-Norman horse is a warmblood horse breed developed in Lower Normandy in northern France. A major center of horse breeding, the area had numerous regional types that were bred to one another and then crossed with Thoroughbreds to form the Anglo-Norman. Various body types developed within the Anglo-Norman breed, two of which were split off to form the Norman Cob and French Trotter. The remaining types were eventually standardized, although there remained some criticism of the "hybrid" nature of the breed's conformation. However, it is successful as an international sport horse, especially in the sport of show jumping. The Anglo-Norman also contributed to the development of several other breeds in Europe and Asia.

Auvergne horse

The Auvergne horse is a breed of light draft horse from the Auvergne region of south central France. It stands 143 to 147 centimetres at the withers, and weighs 450–650 kilograms (990–1,430 lb). Coat colours are bay or seal brown. It is used mainly for trekking. It was recognised as a breed by the Haras Nationaux, the French association of horse breeders in December 2012. The standard is published by a breeders' association, the Association Nationale du Cheval de Race Auvergne.

The Castillonais or Cheval Ariègeois de Castillon , also formerly called Cheval du Biros or Saint-Gironnais, is an ancient breed of small rustic saddle-horse from the Ariège département of south-western France. It may be dark bay or seal brown. It stands 135–155 centimetres at the withers, with an average height of about 145 cm. It is used principally for trekking and for driving.

Charolais horse

The Charolais or Charollais is an extinct breed of warmblood horse from the Charolais, the country lying around the town of Charolles, now in the Saône-et-Loire département of Burgundy, in eastern central France. Like other French warmbloods, it was the result of crossing local agricultural horses with the Thoroughbred, and was known by the name of the region without ever having a specific stud-book. Like other French warmbloods including the Angevin, the Charentais, the Cheval Limousin and the Vendéen, it was fused with the Anglo-Normand in 1958 in order to create the national warmblood stud-book, the Selle français. It was originally used as a multi-purpose horse for riding, driving, and agriculture. During the late 19th century, additional Thoroughbred blood was added and a new type emerged that was principally used as a light cavalry mount. It was also used for dressage and show jumping.

Norman Cob Breed of light draught horse from Normandy

The Norman Cob or Cob Normand is a breed of light draught horse that originated in the region of Normandy in northern France. It is of medium size, with a range of heights and weights, due to selective breeding for a wide range of uses. Its conformation is similar to a robust Thoroughbred, and it more closely resembles a Thoroughbred cross than other French draught breeds. The breed is known for its lively, long-striding trot. Common colours include chestnut, bay and seal brown. There are three general subsets within the breed: horses used under saddle, those used in harness, and those destined for meat production. It is popular for recreational and competitive driving, representing France internationally in the latter, and is also used for several riding disciplines.

Horse breeding in France is a known practice since Celtic times. Linked to political prestige, military effectiveness and the need to obtain animals from daily work, he passes from the hands of wealthy lords and monasteries in the Middle Ages to those of French kings, through the National Stud created by Louis XIV and Colbert to control the private breeding. Its history is closely related to human activities and needs of each era with the emergence or disappearance of specific types of horses according to the uses and needs. The cavalry and transport for people or materials, in particular, are the two main motivations for this. If the reputation of the French working horses, and especially the Percheron, is known all around the world, the military riding horse is poor. The organization of the breeding and the creation of studbooks only dates from the late nineteenth century.

Henson horse

The Henson Horse, or Cheval de Henson, is a modern horse breed from northeast France. It was created by the selective breeding of light saddle horses with the smaller, heavier Norwegian Fjord horse to create small horses suitable for the equestrian vacation industry. The breeders' association, Association du Cheval Henson, was formed in 1983. In 1995 the studbook was closed to horses not born from Henson parents, and in 2003 the breed was officially recognised by the French government agencies for horse breeding. A hardy breed of horse, each winter the broodmares and youngstock from several breeders are let loose together to graze freely in the wetland reserves in France.

The Cheval du Morvan, also known as the Morvandiau, Morvandain or Morvandelle, is an extinct French horse breed from the Morvan massif in Burgundy, for which it is named. Horses were bred in the Morvan from before the French Revolution, both as saddle-horses for fox-hunting and as cavalry mounts, and for draught use. They were of small to medium height and known for their strength and tenacity. The Cheval du Morvan became extinct with the advent of industrialisation and improved transportation in the nineteenth century. As a draught horse it was replaced by the Nivernais and Comtois breeds, and as a saddle-horse by the Thoroughbred.

Poitevin mule Type of large mule from Poitou, France

The Poitevin mule or French: mule Poitevine is a type of large mule from the former province of Poitou in western central France. It is the product of mating between a Baudet du Poitou jack or donkey stallion with a mare of the Poitevin Mulassier breed of draught horse. Mule production was an important industry in Poitou for three hundred years or more, and the number of mule foal births may have reached 30,000 per year. In the early twentieth century there were about 50,000 Poitevin Mulassier brood mares, which gave birth to some 18,000–20,000 mule foals per year.

Belgian Sport Horse Belgian breed of warmblood sport horse

The Belgian Sport Horse, Dutch: Belgisch Sportpaard, French: Cheval de Sport Belge, is a Belgian breed of warmblood sport horse. It is one of three Belgian warmblood breeds or stud-books, the others being the Belgian Warmblood and the Zangersheide. It is bred for dressage, for show-jumping and for three-day eventing.

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