Name of breed: French Trotter.
Country of origin: France.
Breed origin: The French Trotter was developed in Normandy in the 1800s as trotting races increased in popularity. Breeders crossed Norman stock with Thoroughbred, American Standardbred, Norfolk Roadster and hunter-type bloodlines to create a breed with incredible speed, strength and stamina. Initially, the breed closely resembled the Old Norman breed from which it had developed, but over the years more Thoroughbred blood was introduced and French Trotters now have quite a refined form. Despite the influence of American Standardbreds, which often have a lateral two-beat pacing gait, the French Trotter developed a diagonal two-beat trot. At this pace, they can almost match the speed of a galloping Thoroughbred. As well as being exceptional trotting horses, French Trotters often make excellent showjumpers and were used to develop the Selle Français sporthorse.
Distinguishing features: A large, broad head with wide eyes and nostrils, a deep, broad chest with a prominent breastbone, a well-set neck, powerful, sloping shoulders, a strong back, very powerful hindquarters, straight, well-muscled legs and hard hooves. French trotters are seen in chestnut, brown, bay and black, with the very occasional grey. They can stand anywhere from 15.1-17.1 hands high.
Modern day French Trotter: As well as being used for harness racing, the French Trotter is now used as a riding horse, under harness, for hunting and for the sport of skijoring, a race in which the driver is pulled along on skis behind the horse.
Image credits: Vasterbo Stuteri, Horse Breeds Pictures, Equestrian.ru.