Name of breed: Comtois
Country of origin: France
Breed origin: The Comtois breed originates from the mountainous region of France adjacent to Burgundy. This is a seriously old horse breed and supposedly descended from horses brought by the Burgundians to France from northern Germany during the 4th century. The breed was bred with others as draught horses and was originally an all-purpose farm horse used for ploughing and other hard labour work.
In the 17th century the Comtois was used as a cavalry horse and in the 19th century was an artillery horse by Napoleon himself! In 1905 the breed was crossed with bay Ardennais stallions to improve the breed and a stud was established for the Comtois breed in 1919. A cool thing about this breed is that it was originally bay until a chestnut sire called ‘Questeur’ changed the standard of the breed.
Distinguishing features: The Comtois horse breed is a quick learning breed with a free action and a willing temperament. The stocky body of the breed has a deep girth to hold the thick neck which in turn holds their large head with alert eyes and small ears. The legs are short but strong with feathers on the lower legs to balance against the muscular hindquarters.
The Comtois breed stands from 14.3 to 15.3 hands and is usually chestnut but can be bay silver, black silver, bay and black.
Modern day Comtois: The Comtois breed today is still used as a draught horse but the breed is now focused on producing light versions for pleasure riding and for carriage driving.
Reference: The Horse Encyclopedia
Image credit: Small Farmers Journal, Energie Cheval, For honour and intrigue, MHHA (pm)