Are you looking for exactly the right horse for you? Then you absolutely have to get to know the Breton horse!

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about the old breed, which is worth preserving and which, among its three types, could have just the right horse partner for you.

Breed description

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The Breton horse is a breed of horse that originated in French Brittany and is still largely native to Brittany.

There the Breton horse is bred in three types today: a heavy draft horse, a somewhat smaller and lighter draft and workhorse, and an even lighter, fairly agile, and sporty type.

The Breton horse is a very “clear head”, sociable, and willing to workhorse, the three types of which flow into one another.

Therefore, the Breton horse offers great potential in many leisure and work areas of ecological nature conservation and agriculture.

Some of this has already been discovered and is in use, but the Breton horse could successfully support many more people at work or delight them as a reliable leisure partner.

Size: 152 – 165 cm
Weight: 700-1000 kg
Origin: France
Lifespan: 20-25 years
Color: Fallows, red foxes, occasionally red mold, rarely brown mold

Origin and breed history

The Breton horse breed developed directly in its original region of origin, Brittany.

The beginnings of this development go back a very long time: First, the inhabitants of the region tamed some of the small, robust “forest horses” that ran around wild in the forests and hills of Brittany.

Even with these wild horses, there were early “breeding attempts” by trying to multiply the tame, largest, and most powerful.

In the 12th century, these native forest and mountain horses came into contact with oriental horse breeds in the course of “international” war (keyword: crusades) for the first time.

The native horses crossed with these ancestors of the fiery Arabs (with, but often against the will of their owners). In the course of time, a strong riding and draft horse had developed on the Bretagne peninsula from all these early, still very unplanned breeding events.

With a height of about 140 cm, this horse had the size of a pony but is said to have been very comfortable to sit in at the trot and to have been pleasant to ride on the whole.

This horse was already widespread in French Brittany in the Middle Ages and is said to have been quite similar to the horses of today’s Breton horse breed.

As was often the case at the time, this early Breton horse also developed two types towards the end of the Middle Ages: a heavy variant, which was used as a warhorse and for heavy work in agriculture, and a light work, riding and driving horse.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, more systematic breeding began: the original Breton horse was crossed with the early forms of the Ardennes, Boulonnais, and Percheron breeds in order to increase the height of both types.

In addition, the crossing of British Norfolk and Hackney stallions resulted in a slightly built post office (post horse). This light, agile, enduring carriage horse for the stagecoach made a real career back then.

Until it became popular around the world, from the beginning of the 20th century to around 1940, the postiers were exported in large numbers to all parts of the then accessible world.

The heavier type of Breton horse was also well preserved in both forms because at that time many horses were used every day for many different purposes.

He was now also deliberately bred and formed into the heavyweight Trait Breton and the slightly smaller, lighter Petit Trait Breton.

In 1909 the studbook of the Breton horse breed was opened, with which the regulated, traceable breeding began. Today the Breton horse is still bred a lot in Brittany, about half of the breeding stations are located here.

The French state studs Lamballe and Hennebont are responsible for keeping stallions and distributing the stallions to the breeding stations.

The number of Breton horses in France is estimated at around 15,000, every year around 10,000 mares are covered by over 500 stallions. There are no exact figures for Germany because the Friends of the Breton Horses is not yet sufficiently organized in this country.

Appearance of Breton

A Breton horse is always cold blood, which of course has nothing to do with body temperature. Horses are mammals that, as animals of the same temperature, keep their body temperature at a constant temperature level regardless of the environment.

This level is noticeably higher in horses than in humans, a healthy horse is 38 ° C. That is one of the reasons why horses have such a beneficial effect on us humans, even in the therapeutic area.

The reason for the confusing name of the actually very warm “cold blood” is its temperament: The Breton horse and other representatives of this physically always quite heavy species are known for keeping the proverbial “cold blood” in almost every situation.

However, the Breton horse is currently well on the way to becoming a warmblood, at least with one of the three types that will now be presented:

This is how the heavy draft horse type of the Breton horse is called in his homeland. A Trait Breton is at least 160 to 165 cm tall and has a powerful body with a broad, well-muscled trunk.

The neck is long and very massive, it goes over sloping shoulders and the deep chest into a firm, muscular back. The legs are rather short and stocky, with muscular thighs and strong joints.

They end at the back in a remarkably wide, centrally divided croup. A power pack with a compact, heavy foundation that also looks absolutely powerful and sturdy.

This is the name of the smaller and lighter breed relative. It is very similar to the large draft horse, is just a little more delicate, and with a stick height of up to 150 cm is also a good deal smaller.

He is not only popular as a recreational horse, but is also used today to freshen up down-to-earth Italian, Spanish, and Greek breeds.

The descendant of the former post horse is built even lighter. So easy that you can argue about whether he is still cold blood or a heavy warmblood.

Because the post, which also reaches a height of 150 cm, is also built considerably drier than the two heavier types.

However, these breeding lines are not bred separately, but crossed at will and, as a foal, provisionally assigned to the type to which they are likely to grow.

In the case of an adult Breton horse, the exact assignment to a type is often not easy, a classification by experts is only done unofficially and without obligation via competition classes in driving tests.

Every Breton horse carries the genes for a whole range of color variants. The most common are falcons and red foxes, followed by the red roan, more rarely brown roan are born.

The head of every type of Breton horse is appropriately medium in size, nicely square and expressively shaped. It is often decorated with white badges, which can also often be seen on the legs.

The full, slightly wavy mane in light beige, fox brown, or black is really gorgeous. The tail is similarly magnificent but is traditionally docked in France.

Temperament and essence

The Breton horse has a long history, especially as a draft and carriage horse, which has made it a horse that is extremely persistent and willing to work.

A Breton horse is really uncomplicated to deal with and is also friendly and good-natured. He shows a pronounced willingness to perform with a very balanced temperament.

He is a very reliable partner for all leisure activities for which the horse needs strength and rest, but also certainly does not say “no” to activities with a touch of adventure.

Because even if the Breton, as a typical carriage horse, can hardly be disturbed, it can develop considerable speed after a short “start-up period”.

Lovers of the breed even report that the Breton horse z. B. when driving usually proves to be extremely maneuverable.

Husbandry and nutrition

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Attitude

The keeping of the Breton horse is in itself very uncomplicated and has few peculiarities, especially with the post and the Petit Trait Breton.

Here you just have to note that even these slightly lighter types are incredibly strong horses. All the equipment should therefore not be purchased in any shop for fashionable horse frippery but from an experienced horse outfitter.

The sturdy halter, lunge, and rope sells that does not tear if there is a misunderstanding between you and your Breton horse, and offers tangible accessories not only in “doll sizes”.

The box equipment and the other stable equipment should also have a certain stability if a Breton horse is to move in. If the powerhouse Breton horse “swings its butt the wrong way around”, it can effortlessly push in a lightweight wall or shred a hay rack at the same time.

This is, of course, all the more true for the heavy Trait Breton. With this usually quite huge Breton horse, the dimensions of the immediate stable area should also be subjected to a thorough examination before acquisition.

A big horse needs a lot of space and will not be happy in a “pony box”. The box size is calculated according to the horse’s height at the withers. It should be at least big enough for a lying horse to turn around easily.

There is even a formula for this minimum box size: height at withers x 2, square the result (multiply by yourself). For a Breton horse with height at the withers this gives 1.65 x 2 = 3.3 x 3.3 = 10.89 square meters.

Of course, more is better so that the horse can turn around from any position. With the Breton horse, there is also the fact that you actually have to use a tape measure for arithmetic, which determines the height at the withers with a tape measure attached to the body.

Because only with this measurement method are the curves or the width of the body included, which in the Breton horse is a lot lusher than that of narrow warm-blooded animals.

The exemplary keeping of a Breton horse also means that it spends as little time as possible in this box.

Nowadays, species-appropriate husbandry naturally also includes grazing, a little exercise in between, and lots of contact with other horses.

Nutrition

The frugal Breton horse usually has no special demands on its feed and consumes it with a healthy appetite.

You can expect that he will accept almost any food that you give him without any problems. Which doesn’t mean that every food is really good for him.

This feed should initially be compiled according to the basic rules of healthy horse nutrition.

According to the current state of science (which takes into account all sensible traditions of horse nutrition), the following points are particularly important in the healthy nutrition of a horse:

  • The feed should be composed of three components: concentrate, roughage, juice feed.
  • Concentrated feed is the feed made from high-energy cereal grains (classic oats, but also barley, corn, and other things).
  • Roughage is the feed made from dried plants (classic hay and straw, but also herbs, dried carrot greens, and more).
  • Juice feed is the feed made from fresh plants, fruits, and vegetables (classic carrots and apples, but horses eat more fruits and vegetables).
  • The roughage is the most important component because the complicated digestion of horses only works well with enough roughage.
  • Concentrated feed is the feed that horses actually only need when they have to perform a lot.
  • A horse’s natural diet consists only of juice feed and roughage
  • When horses are fed by humans, they often get too little juice/roughage and amounts of concentrated feed that exceed the real performance requirement.

The consequences are not infrequently metabolic diseases, and the correct composition of the diet is particularly difficult for a cold-blooded horse.

You should therefore seek advice from experienced cold-blooded experts when putting together the diet for a Breton horse.

Education and care

Upbringing

The stable training of the Breton horse is usually quite simple because the good-natured Breton horse is easy to treat in this respect too.

First, get to know him well by spending a lot of time with him at the beginning. You can talk to him and take him for a walk and have him try a variety of juicy treats.

You can clean him and boast his mane and he has to do little braids – the main thing is that you spend a lot of time with your Breton horse and help him to thoroughly explore his new environment.

Soon you can start training in the discipline with which you want to keep your Breton horse predominantly occupied.

A Breton horse has very good capabilities for driving because pulling a wagon is in his blood anyway and his calm, good-willed temperament cannot be shaken quickly.

But it can also be ridden, with or without a saddle. A Postier-type Breton horse can even be used in numerous recreational riding disciplines as well as a warmblood.

At least as good, because there is not often such a pairing of the highest balance with the highest agility as with the Breton horse type Postier.

And a Breton horse with its broad back is definitely a vaulting horse – many young people who cuddle it and fully rely on it are even entirely to its taste.

Since a Breton horse is usually very child-friendly, it can also be used as a family horse. On which all members of the family can enjoy beautiful rides in the area, or simply take the Breton horse with you on a hike as a companion.

Then it will be happy to carry the luggage and of course tired children on a special pack saddle. And of course, he is also an excellent back horse for woodwork.

Whatever your plans, a Breton horse will go along in a good mood, as long as you don’t ask him to perform delicate contortions with his massive body or jump high obstacles.

All of these employment opportunities should of course be tailored to the type of Breton horse that you have acquired.

But that actually comes out of its own accord: A heavy Trait Breton looks just as inappropriate in front of a mini-carriage as a light post in front of a carriage for 10 people (although it would probably have little trouble pulling it too).

It is always important that the proportions of the horse also match the task and that you feel comfortable on or behind your horse.

Maintenance

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The Breton horse is actually easy to care for, but the daily grooming takes quite a while because of its enormous physical size.

But it doesn’t have excessively large hooves, so you don’t need a crane or several people to scrape them out and grease them if necessary after joint activities.

If you want to make a Breton horse really “show-like” pretty, you will be allowed to invest quite a lot of time (carefully) brushing its mane. Because it is often equipped with a kind of natural perm and therefore likes to look and often a bit tousled.

Health and Typical Diseases

There are no special, “typical” diseases in the Breton horse breed. The breed is not bred in any way to bring out any particular characteristics.

They are just normal, sturdy horses with a strong build, from which no particular surprises are to be expected in terms of health.

With such a powerful horse, however, this only applies if the keeping conditions really meet the requirements of species-appropriate horse keeping.

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of horses is generally between around 25 and around 50 years. There are some differences between the large groups that horses are divided into and the individual horse breeds:

  • The little ponies are usually late-ripe; H. only fully grown at around 7 or 8 years of age and can live to be 35 to 50 years old.
  • Warmblood horses live on average 20 to 35 years old.
  • Cold-blooded animals have the lowest life expectancy because they are precocious, i.e. they are fully grown at the age of 3 or 4 years.
  • Cold-blooded animals, therefore, do not get very old, the average is said to be 16 to 18 years.
  • The robust original races always achieve the highest life expectancy within these groups.
  • The attitude is responsible for all further differences in life expectancy.

The better fed a horse, the more it is moved and otherwise occupied in a horse-friendly manner, the older it will ordinarily get.

The Breton horse actually belongs to the group of horses with a not-so-high life expectancy, it also grows up relatively early. But Bretons carry a little warm blood in all types, which is just as beneficial as the great joy in exercise.

Breton horse breed for sale

If you are interested in buying a Breton horse, you can contact the breeding association Le Syndicat des éleveurs du cheval Breton directly.

All French breeders of the Breton horse are organized in this French umbrella organization for the Breton horse breed.

However, the establishment of a German Breton breed in cooperation with the French Breeding Association should be planned, you can certainly find out more from the draft horses association, which can certainly also provide addresses of German breeders of the Breton horse.

Decision support

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The Breton horse is certainly not a horse that should be bought quickly as the first horse. However, if you already have some experience with horses and you have enough space available, you should certainly take a closer look at the Breton horse breed.

A horse as a pet? It could be that you will find exactly the “pet” among the representatives of this breed that can support you sustainably in your projects.

Especially if these projects are ecological agriculture or forest projects, in which a Breton horse can be of valuable help to you.

But also if you are looking for a reliable leisure partner away from “fast sport” who brings a lot of strength, calm, and endurance.

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