Ardennes, or Ardennais, horses are a multi-talented horse
commonly used in endurance riding, general riding, and work activities. They
are one of the oldest breeds of draft horse, and originate from the Ardennes
area in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France.
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. They are a direct
descendant of the pre-historic horses whose remains were found at Solutre;
primitive features such as the skeletal formation of the head, with its
distinctive, squared-off nose, are still evident in the modern breed. Ardennais
horses were known to both Julius Caesar and the Greek historian Herodotus, who
praised them for their hardiness and stamina. Originally small, broad-bodied
draught horses, Ardennais horses undoubtedly formed the basis for the great
horses of the Middle Ages.
The first Ardennes horses were imported to the United States
in the early 20th century, and the first breed registry was established in
Europe in 1929. They have been used throughout history as war horses, both as
cavalry mounts and to draw artillery, and are used today mainly for heavy draft
and farm work, meat production, and competitive driving events. They have also
been used to influence or create several other horse breeds throughout Europe
Ardennes horses are heavy-boned with thick legs. They are
known for good-temper, stamina, and are strong.. Ardennes horses are found in
many colors, although black horses are very rare and are not allowed to be
registered with the breed registry.