Ardennes Horses – Reliable Companions for Work and Recreation
The Ardennes horses’ breed is part of the Ardennes-Flemish breed group of heavy draft horses. This group contains breeds, like the Belgian Draft, the Yugoslavian Draft, the Ardennes, the Auxois, Comtois, Northern Ardennes, Freiberger, the Swedish Ardenner Horse and the Sovjet or Russian Heavy Draft, which are founded or influenced by the Ardennes. Some of these breeds are today endangered as their remaining population is small.
The Ardenner draft horse is one of the oldest European breeds, and its ancestor, a heavy horse bred and used in Roman times is even mentioned in Julius Ceasar’s “Gallic War”.
Its origin in Mid-Western Europe’s Maas region explains why it was used to influence many other breeds. See here for an extensive article about the history of the Ardennes horse.
The Ardennes has got a lot of Belgian influence, but is lighter than the Belgian Draft. It is a very compact and muscular horse with a short, muscular neck and a short back. The legs are strong and heavy boned and have got dense feathering. It reaches 14.2 – 16 hh at the whither. The hair color is usually bay or roan, but can be sometimes also chestnut. Black is very rare because it is excluded from registration. Piebald or Skewbald is unwanted.
These horses are typically docile and calm, have got a good nature and can be used for hard draft work and are excellent for forestry work on rough and hilly grounds. Its versatility is outstanding and nowadays they make very good driving horses and are even used for competitive driving. The Ardennes is also becoming popular as a riding horse and is a trusted companion for disabled driving and riding.