The Ardennes or Ardennais is one of the oldest breeds of draft horse, and originates from the Ardennes area in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. They are heavy-boned with thick legs and are used for draft work. The Ardennes is found in many colors, although black horses are very rare and are not allowed to be registered with the breed registry. Their history reaches back to Ancient Rome, and throughout the years blood from several other breeds has been added to the Ardennes, although only the Belgian breed had any significant impact.
Descendant from the Solutrian horse that roamed the Ardennes area during the Paleolithic period, the breed has continued relatively unchanged since the last ice age. These animals were originally shaped by the land & climate, until mankind began to use/ develop them for war. Since the days of Julius Caesar they have been used as tireless mounts in a variety of wars & warfare tactics – right into the World Wars of the 20th century.
In France, Ardennes stallions stand about 1.62 metres (16 hands) high, and mares about 1.60 m (15.3 hands), while in Belgium these are the maximum allowable heights. They weigh 700 to 1,000 kilograms (1,500 to 2,200 lb). Their heads are heavy, with a broad face and a straight or slightly convex profile.
Their conformation is broad and muscular, with a compact body, short back, and short, sturdy legs with strong joints. Their fetlocks are feathered. Their coats may be bay, roan, chestnut, gray, or palomino. Bay and roan are the two most common colors. Black is very rare and is excluded from registration. White markings are small, usually restricted to a star or blaze. The breed matures early, and they are said to be easy keepers, economical to feed despite their size. The Ardennes is a free-moving, long-striding breed, despite their compact body structure.
The temperament of the Ardennes horses is generally very calm, gentle, and kind. They can be around children and are ideal for riding purposes if you intend to use them for such a need. Usually the older draft breeds such as the Ardennes styles are very calm and well mannered creatures as a result of their excellent training.
Taking care of the Ardennes horse is a cinch. This breed can be found in Europe where they can easily reside in any cold or warm climate. This style of horse can be found working in farms and fields all over the world, and their extra kind temperaments is what keeps them so commonly bred to this day. No major health issues have been reported.