Wonderfully matched Percheron team in action July 1, 2010, Canada Day at the Bar U Ranch, south of Longview, Alberta, Canada, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a powerful team of horses pulling in perfect unison.
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The Bar U Ranch is now a part of Parks Canada and was once one of the largest breeding stables for the wonderful huge draft horses, the Percherons.
The Percheron is a breed of draft horses that originated in the Perche valley in northern France. Percherons are usually gray or black in color. Percherons generally stand between 16.2 and 17.3 hands (66 to 71 inches, 168 to 180 cm) high, although the breed has an outer range of 15 and 19 hands (60 to 76 inches, 152 to 193 cm). They average around 1,900 pounds (860 kg), although the top weight is around 2,600 pounds (1,200 kg). They are well-muscled, and known for their intelligence and willingness to work. Although their exact origins are sketchy, the ancestors of the breed were present in the valley by the 1600s. They were originally bred for use as a warhorse. Over time, they began to be used for pulling stagecoaches, and later for agriculture and hauling heavy goods. Gallipoly sired Jean le Blanc, a founding stallion of the Percheron breed, foaled in 1830. Today, all Percherons trace their ancestry to this stallion.
Purebred Percherons are used for forestry work and pulling carriages, as well as under-saddle work, including competition in English riding disciplines such as show jumping.
A Percheron mare from Australia, having pulled 3,410 pounds (1,550 kg) over 15 feet (4.6 m), holds the unofficial world pulling record.