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The origins of the Percheron are not known for certain. With no accurate records, there are plenty of rumours and myths. Such as being related to the Boulonnais horse – used in the Roman invasion of Brittany. Or that Charles Martel took captured Arabs and Barbs home to breed them to his warhorses after his victory over the Muslim Umayyad Arab Caliphate at Poitiers in 732 AD.
The first known records for this breed show that from the 8th Century onward, the Percheron came from an area called Le Perche, a district of Normandy, France.
The Percheron would have altered in appearance since the 8th Century, and they have since been dispersed around the world with several Percheron breed Societies being formed, producing their own studbooks. There are slight differences in appearance between the French, North American, and British Percheron, hence today’s reference to the three types. In general, the height of the British Percheron is between that of the French and the North American.
Despite all the changes in breeding over the centuries, the Percheron remains one of the favourite heavy horse breeds. There are still two types; the heavy draft and the lighter draft. The horse is known for being amenable, energetic and elegant, hence its popularity today.
For more information, please see the British Percheron Society.