PERCHERON DRAFT HORSES
The Gentle Giants
Percheron "draft" horses were originally used in the Middle Ages as war horses, capable of
carrying heavily armored knights with their ponderous weaponry. In the subsequent, more peaceful times, they were employed pulling fire wagons, stage coaches, carrying mail or
royalty on French turnpikes. When the railroad replaced coaches and the cities were growing rapidly, omnibuses were used for transportation and needed sturdier horses to pull them.
Additionally, Percherons were deemed faster and stronger than oxen, thus becoming indispensable to agriculture. As trade and commerce grew, they were also successful in carrying large loads
from docks to warehouses. With each demand, the breeders of Le Perche, France refined these "gentle giants" making them the most popular "drafters" in Europe.
Across the ocean, a young republic was rapidly growing. By 1906, there were over 13,000 Percherons in America as the
nation showed its affection and preference for this particular breed. At one time, Percherons were 70% of America's purebred draft horse pool.
However, the Industrial Revolution changed forever the demand for the draft horse. By 1954, there were only 85 head in the U.S.
But, a handful of people remained faithful to the breed, and together with the Amish, have saved them from extinction. Percherons are still the breed of choice for modern
homesteaders who want obedient, more environmentally friendly farm workers and "teamsters" who want to simulate life in another era.
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