male, aged 13 years
Born and bred in the marshes of Western France,
the Poitevin is the least known of nine French heavy breeds, and the most
endangered. Its reputation was made by the magnificent mules bred by the mares
for centuries, the biggest and strongest mules in the world! But as a horse it
was sneered at as "a heavy horse that has more conformational faults than
most, is singularly unattractive in appearance and has little potential as a
working horse" according to Elwyn Hartley Edwards. Yet, as a descendant of
the Flemmish horses brougth to Poitou in the 17th century to drain the marshes,
it is related to the Shire - and hence to the Clydesdale - whose ancestors came
from Holland to reclaim the Fens.
Linotte (aged 2 weeks)
|| Whilst most heavy horses were
bred for specific purposes - including meat production - the only work required
of the Poitevin was that it sired enough mares to provide for the booming mule
trade. It has therefore retained all the characteristics of the
"primitive" horse, including the rare dun colour. It is lighter than
most draught horses and its gait is sprightly; when black, it is a heavy
friesan, with abundant feathers and flowing mane and tail.
| When four wheel
drives replaced mules, the poitevin declined and was saved only thanks to the
dedication of a few breeders who kept mares because their grandfathers had made
their fortunes with them. But numbers plummeted, with only c. 220
females and 40 males left in 1992. Numbers are slowly recovering, now reaching
c. 400 animals.
Hors Taxe (aged 3 years)
Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe the
Poitevin is a magnificent horse, pleasant to look at, hard working and gentle,
and with a future!
When two years of age, Idoine won first prize in the young stallion category!