Ardennes horses origin from the region of Ardennes in Belgium, Luxemburg and France. They are the oldest documented draft horses in Europe and it’s thought that were descend from praised horses by Julius Caesar. Caesar described these horses as “rustic, hard and tireless”, thus were used in heavy cavalry units.
There is historical evidence that its ancestries reaches the period of Ancient Rome. Napoleon was famous about his passion for good horses and valued Ardennes horses for its endurance. He praised them due to their temperament, stamina and strength and used them in the army as cavalry horse, although others preferred war horses to be with less weight, since heavy horses were difficult to maintain, and less adaptable to varied terrains. They were also been praised as a meet animal. Arabian blood had influence on the breed as a result of cross with Belgian Draft blood. That was in the 18th century when Belgian Draft was used to increase size and strength of other horse breeds. In the United States they were imported in the early 20th century that provides the pulling power on farms, although it is not Most distinctive feature of the Ardennes horse is its massive and compact body, characteristic size and extra weight.
The head is strong with broad face, set on hugely-crested neck, with enormous chest. Poor reared Ardennes horses are lighter in bone and muscles. Ardennes horse’s legs are short and sturdy; they are of gigantic proportion, especially in the hocks and have strong joints. The overall look is broad and muscular horse with abundant feather on their fetlocks. Although they are massive, it is said that they’re easy keepers, which means that can live with relatively little food and are economical.
Average height of an Ardennes horse is between 15 and 16 hands (152-163 cm) and weigh up to 2,200 pounds (1000 kg), but average weight is around1, 210 pounds (550 kg).
Most common coat colors of the Ardennes horse are bay and roan, but it can also be found in chestnut, bay and palomino. Black coat color is very rare and these horses are excluded from registration. Sometimes white markings can appear, usually as a star or blaze.
The first Ardennes Horse Register was founded in 1929. Today there are studbooks in Belgium, France and Luxemburg, which are different between each other. They have influence on many other breeds in order to increase weight and size to a specific breed. Spread in the world and in the United States, it is not known exactly from when, because they weren’t registered as Ardennes, rather as Belgian or French heavy draft horse. From the early 20th century there are constantly imported even as late as 2004.
In the pass they were often used as war horses, but today are mostly used for heavy draft and farm work, for meat production, due to its extensive musculature and in driving events. They are also used in therapeutic horseback riding thus teaching riding skills to children and adults with physical and emotional disabilities.
Play a game of a jigsaw puzzle. You a required to re-place the pieces of the jigsaw by using your mouse and at the end see an image of a free-moving breed, despite its body structure. Gentle, willing and so calm that even a child can handle it- that is the Ardennes horse breed.