The mighty Percheron is probably one of the most-loved draft horses on earth. Not much is known about this horse. It is believed that its ancestors were the heavy horses used by the knights in the battle of Poitiers. The Moors invaded Europe and Charles Martel defeated them, uniting Europe in the process. After the battle, they had access to the Arabian and Barb horses of the moors, and these were used extensively in the breeding and development of the Percheron.
After the invention of gunpowder, the Percheron was no longer needed as a war mount. Thus, it went from being a battle horse to pulling the heavy coaches. It was well-suited for the task. It was prized for its power and endurance, and not only did it pull the coaches of the rich and powerful, it was also used to pull the heavy mail coaches. However, this did not last long because the train soon came into being. Soon, this horse started appearing not only in the cities but also in the county, doing various tasks. The breed was being modified to accommodate the new jobs. Thus, it became even bigger and heavier and was used in plowing and farm work along with being used in the city, in dock work, and for hauling goods from one place to another.
This is why this horse is believed to be such a versatile breed. It is a favorite in the logging industry because it is able to go places where a tractor can't, and does not need roads either. This comes in handy when there are young trees that shouldn't be damaged. It is used on farms to this day, and has a reputation for being an excellent jumper and pleasure riding horse.
This horse has a lot of muscling, but at the same time a look of grace that you don't quite expect in such a heavy breed. The legs should have excellent conformation, with a nice back, a big, deep chest, and well-muscled forearms. It has a graceful-looking neck and a delicate-looking head with a wide forehead, a straight face, and a full jaw, with animated ears giving it a classic Arabian feel. In recent years, it is being bred for a finer, leaner look to use in competitions and shows, although these are the traits that you will see only in show horses.
It has a great temperament, and is a favorite for pulling carriages at Disney world because it can be trusted around children. It is intelligent and proud but gentle and patient. It is a very hard worker, adapts well to almost any type of climate, has the power to work on a farm and pull heavy loads, and at the same time, has the grace and good looks to pull a carriage.
This horse can be found mainly in gray and black colors, but chestnut, bay, and sorrel can also be found although these are rare. Some registries do not accept these colors, so careful consideration is needed when thinking of getting a horse who is anything other than black in color. It can be 15 to 19 hands high and can weigh up to 2,600 pounds.
The Percheron is a magnificent blend of toughness and grace. It is truly a unique horse.