The Percheron Horse is a Large Draft Breed That is Easy to Keep

The Percheron were initially used as war horses.

According to Homestead on the Range, a steady demand for Percherons in America did not begin until after the Civil War, when a depleted horse population, the rise of large cities and the opening of the West combined to create an unprecedented need for heavy draft breeds. The Percheron became the most popular breed of draft horses in the nation. 

This was short-lived as few breeders were raising purebred Percherons until the outbreak of World War I and machines were replacing draft horses.

Unfortunately, by the end of World War II, the Percheron was in danger of extinction in America. Thanks to Amish farmers, a few Percherons were still available when working with draft horses became popular in the late 1960s.

What is a Percheron Horse?

This horse breed excels at any task that requires strength and size.

Some of the fun facts about their history:

  • Named for the La Perche region of France, the Percheron has existed in some form since ancient times.
  • Some suggest that its earliest ancestors were Boulonnais horses used by the Romans under Julius Caesar to invade Brittany.
  • Others trace the breed's roots to the Black Horse of Flanders.
  • A touch of refinement was added through crossbreeding with light horses during the Middle Ages. 

Experts at Homestead on the Range tell us that today, the Percheron ranks among America's favorite draft breeds.

"In fact, more Percherons can be found in the United States than in any other country. The breed is represented in every state, but is most popular in the Corn Belt."

Breed overview

The Spruce Pets explains that Percherons are competitive on the horse-pull circuit, in which teams of horses are matched against increasing weights

Weight: 1,800 to 2,600 pounds

Height: 15 hands (60 inches) to 19 hands (76 inches)

Body type: Muscular build; broad, flat forehead; small, upright ears and arched neck

Life expectancy: 25 to 30 years

Unlike other draft breeds, the Percheron does not have the heavy feathering that is typically found on the fetlocks. 

What about colors?

The Percheron Horse comes in a variety of colors, but you'll typically see black and gray horses. Sorrel, bay, roan and chestnut are also possible colors. 

Some of these horses will show white markings on their head and feet.

How do you care for Percherons? 

This beautiful draft horse breed can be a great horse for beginner riders. These draft animals are easy keepers and someone that's more of a novice should look at Percheron breeders. A first-time horse owner that is looking at draft types can consider a Percheron a perfect candidate.

The Percheron is good for hayrides, a sleigh or a coach horse. Other draft horses include a Clydesdale.

The horses they shouldn't consider include Arabians and Thoroughbreds as they can be hot-headed.

If you have any questions about the Percheron breed you should contact the Percheron Horse Association of America.

What do you think about this horse? Share your thoughts below.

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