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It comes from the homonymous region of France on Breton horse and it is an animal that has always been at the side of man, especially helping him with agricultural work, in the past. There are three variants that are distinguished by size but otherwise these creatures have rather homogeneous characteristics. The chestnut coat, a sturdy neck, square head, small ears and a lively look like character which is also sweet and hardy. We can find three types of Breton horse, the Petit Trait Breton, which weighs 700 kg and is 152 cm tall, the Postoer Breton, which goes from 157 to 160 cm at the withers and weighs from 700 to 900 kg, and then the Trait Breton which has the same height as the previous one but is decidedly more robust and can even weigh 950 kg.
Breton horse: origins
We begin to investigate the origins of this horse that comes from France and was chosen and bred to be a strong and resistant animal. There are two theories on its genesis, some believe it came with the Arians 4000 years ago that they came to Europe from Asia, others think it is thanks to the Celts their presence on the continent. Certainly in the Middle Ages it already grazed in French meadows and was used by farmers while the breed continued to evolve through various crosses. In 1500 they are already described two types of Bretons, that for pack, used in the fields of northern Brittany, and that for war and for long journeys, used in the country of Briec.
Also in 17th century, there were two distinct versions, one present in northern Brittany and ideal for work in the countryside or to carry some, the other lighter, in central and southern Brittany, more suitable for the saddle. The revolution is a severe blow to the breeding which then recovered and in nineteenth century we find the Breton horse among the most sought after horses for taxiing services, the artillery train, post offices and stagecoaches. And also in the military field this animal has made a career, especially for artillery. In 1909 the herd book of the Breton horse, in 1970 it risked disappearing and then recovered from the 1990s.
Breton horse: characteristics
Brachymorphic and versatile, this is a horse suitable for serving small farms in Brittany. It is particularly massive and muscular, depending on the variety to which it belongs a specimen can measure from 145 to 170 centimeters at the withers and weigh from 700 to 950 kg, today three types are recognized including the Trait Breton (or Great Breton) for the heavy shot, and the Breton Postier for the lighter shot, and then there is the Petit Trait.
The Shooting Trait heavy was developed with crossings between the Ardennese, the Boulonnais and the Percheron. The smaller Postier has Boulonnais, Percheron, and Norfolk Roadster bloodlines.
the Trait Breton it is heavy, compact, with great strength and tenacity, and is ideal for agricultural work, the Postier type is small and dynamic, has dry legs, like the light Suffolk Punch and is perfect for pulling carriages or loads for transport heavy quick.
These horses have a square head and a straight or slightly snub profile, a broad forehead, very small but mobile ears and lively and kind eyes. The neck is short, broad and muscular, the withers muscular and not very prominent, the back is wide and the rump is oblique, broad and muscular.
Chest and shoulder are very muscular, the junction of the tail is high and the chest deep. The limbs of the Breton horse are not slender but particularly muscular, with wide and strong joints and strong and vigorous tendons. The hoof is strong and in the lower part of the limbs there are longer tufts of hair. If we look at the coat that this breed has, it is almost always saurian, often with lighter hairs than the body, but we can also find examples of bay and roan while it is almost impossible to black.
Breton horse: character
Sweet, generous and lively, these horses are prized for their sturdy body but also for their character. They are not demanding or capricious and they know how to relate to man in a balanced way. It also resists hot climates well and it is for this reason that it was also exported to North Africa, especially in Algeria and Morocco.
Breton horse: diseases and pathologies
There are genetic diseases that this horse can be affected by. Let's see some how junctional epidermolysis bullosa whose recessive gene is present in about 14% of horses of the breed. If affected by this disease, horses produce foals without skin in some parts of the body which are undoubtedly destined to die prematurely. Today there is a genetic test that can detect it and thus avoid the mating of two carriers.
Breton horse: attitudes
Depending on the type of Breton horse that we find ourselves in front of it, we can use it in both ways. In general we can say that it is ideal for the sport competition but also for the shooting tourism, being also very docile. Even for agricultural work in some areas it is still used even if the machines have stolen its place. Unfortunately, Breton is also used for meat production, consumed in many European countries including Italy, as well as France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.
Breton horse: breeding
Finistère, Côtes d’Armor, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan are the departments of Brittany where the farms of Breton horse, also present in the north of Atlantic Loire and west of Maine and the Loire. Over time it has spread a lot and is present almost everywhere in France and mainly in the areas of the Massif Central and the Pyrenees.
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