Henson Horses
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About Henson HorsesAbout Henson Horses



Henson (French: Cheval Henson or Cheval de Henson) horsesrnare from the area of the Baie de Somme in Picardy (now part ofrnHauts-de-France), in north-eastern France. Unlike the majority of French horsernbreeds, the Henson was created in the late 20th century with the goal to obtainrna hardy horse adapted to all forms of equestrian tourism, outdoor riding andrnleisure.

Near the end of the 1970s, horse riding was oriented towardsrnoutdoor recreation for nature-loving families. This promoted pony trekking asrnwell as driving. This trend implied the search for a leisure horse suited inrnregions such as the Somme, where equestrian tourism became popular in the arearnof the Baie de Somme.

rnrnIn 1974, the birth of two foals, half Fjord and halfrnAnglo-Arab, attracted the attention of Lionel Berquin, attendant at the CentrernEquestre de Morlay (Morlay Equestrian Centre). He discovered the abilities ofrnthese foals. Adopted by the Association des Cavaliers de la Baie de Sommern(located in Port-le-Grand), they were named "Henson" a few yearsrnlater. They combine the dun coat color, the qualities of hardiness and thernmental balance of the Fjord horses with the fiery temperament of thernAnglo-Arab, and a body adapted to driving and recreation. This crossing broughtrnabout heterosis, which resulted in the setting of sought-after qualities; hencernthe good results of the experiment. The experiment was deemed worth beingrnrepeated, so the Fjord was crossed with Trotters and Selle Francais horses, butrnthe Anglo-Arab proved to be the better cross.rnrn 

Members of the breed's development project, includingrnBerquin and Bizet, gathered in 1982 to become the Association des Cavaliers dernla Baie de Somme. Lionel Berquin co-created the Association of the Henson Horsernthat same year with Dominique Cocquet, then leader of the "Syndicat Mixte Pourrnl'Amenagement de la Cote Picarde" (Mixed Union for the Development of thernPicardy Coast), to "give life to this crazy bet" which was to createrna new breed of horse, promote it and establish it. They gathered all theirrnFjord cross horses, and bred their mares to the stallions. The goal was to getrnhorses with similar phenotypes, so the genotype would be stable andrnreproducible, but also to have sufficient first generation animals that werern50/50. From 1984 to 1986, 50/50 Fjord mares were covered by an Anglo stallion,rnthe product was 25% Fjord blood. The morphology and character were interestingrnbut the dun coat colour was lost in more than half of the cases. The same maresrnproduced foals that were 75% Fjord, in order to better establish the coatrncolour for selection criteria.rnrn rnrn 

rnrnIn 1995, they believed the population of first-generationrnhorses was sufficient, the breed studbook was closed to outside horses whosernparents were not of the Henson breed. Purebred breeding continued, exclusivelyrnon horses of second and following generations. rnrn 

rnrnHenson horses were recognized as a breed by the Ministry ofrnAgriculture and the Haras Nationaux in July 2003. 

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