One of Earth’s true relics, the Ardennes draught horse has a history dating back to 50,000 BC and the prehistoric Solutrian horse that originally populated the Ardennes region.
Since the last ice-age, conformation of the breed had remained relatively constant, although the 19th century saw the horse bulking out with the introduction of Belgian draught horse blood. The Ardennes of today is typically short in length but broad and heavy boned, with muscular legs and feathered fetlocks.
Gaining a reputation as a military horse capable of carrying armoured men into battle, the Ardennes was highly praised by Julius Caesar who described the breed as ‘rustic, hard and tireless,’ and by Napoleon who spoke fondly of his cavalry that withstood the bitter cold and deep mud to transport him home to Niemen. The Ardennes was also heavily enlisted in both World Wars to help move supplies and artillery.
Throughout its lengthy history this equine has proved strong, dependable and even tempered, being easy to ride, train and handle. All colours are permissible in the breed, excluding white markings. Despite its heavy build, owners, breeders and enthusiasts describe its speed and dexterity.
In France and Belgium, Ardennes horse meat is considered a delicacy. During the historic wars, if an Ardennes was killed its meat would feed hundreds of soldiers whose taste for it has seemingly never disappeared.