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A horse that is called a "white marble colossus" you can well imagine that it is an animal with a very robust and imposing appearance, in fact it can reach 170 cm in height at the withers and has a generally gray coat. Like marble. We are talking about the Boulonnais horse.
Its name suggests France and it is from one of its regions that it originates, from that of Boulogne-sur-Mer, located in the north. As we will see there are two variants of this breed that differ in size, the smallest being today called Mareyeu because it was used by fishermen to transport fresh fish from the coast to the center of Paris.
Boulonnais horse: origins
This horse has oriental blood that he officially has origin in the North of France. It is hypothesized that it derives from Numidian horses introduced in France by the Romans. From a first crossing with them, the formation of the breed that we see today began, but other crossings followed, such as that with the Andalusian and the Mecklemburg. Their blood served to make the Boulonnais stronger and more robust and not surprisingly. They wanted to use it in war.
In the history of France we find this horse used in different ways, both as means of transport who as a workhorse, In fields. It was at this very moment, during the two world wars, that the two variants, the strongest and the lightest, began to be distinguished.
Later this horse was well used by fishermen to pull the nets to the shore, or to the traders to haul huge carts from Boulogne, Calais or Dunkerque to Paris so that the fish arrived fast, fresh. And so it came if you think that the Boulonnais is able to travel more than 200 km without long stops. The official recognition of the breed dates back to 2003 but it had already been known for a long time and in 1900 there were already 600,000 heads.
Boulonnais horse: characteristics
Depending on whether it is a Great Boulonnais, powerful and suitable for field work, or a Little Boulonnais, lighter and used for transporting carriages, this horse can have a height at the withers that goes from 155 to 170 cm and a weight that can be 6 or even 9 quintals. The gray coat is the result of an interesting selection because in truth it could also have other colors and originally it was even dark. Let's see what body structure it has.
The head compared to the body is rather small and square, it has a linear profile and an arched nose with open nostrils and a small mouth. The ears stick out, small but pointed, and the eyes stand out because they are large and very lively. The neck is slightly arched and massive, and longer than average, decorated with a very thick mane. The shoulder is sturdy and oblique, the chest broad and with spaced and rounded ribs. The withers are wide and not very pronounced, the rump is broad, muscular and elongated, while the back is straight with short and well rounded hips. The limbs are also short but certainly muscular as well as the arms and forearms, the knees are lean and the feet and crown are wide. The legs have thick tufts of hair in the part above the hoof.
Boulonnais horse: character
Big, strong but very good, this horse is described as a calm, gentle, generous and very hardy animal but also full of energy. A perfect character for those who are not yet very experienced as well as for those horse sports professionals who want to aim high. As a draft horse it has always stood out for its soft movements and also for its resistance to cold.
Boulonnais horse: attitudes
We are facing the most massive of gods French horses and that is why it has always been used in the countryside for the toughest agricultural jobs and never as a breeding animal. Today it is no longer used in this way but is still appreciated for its performance in various sports and for its gait and flattering attitude.
Boulonnais females can be used as mares, and there is also a percentage of specimens that are destined for slaughter. Philippe Blondel, a former stallion trainer and president of the Boulonnais Hippique syndacate, also created a "foals of the north" label in 1994 to improve the meat of this horse and combat untraceable imports, with a significant ecological footprint.
Boulonnais horse: breeding
The goal of breeders of this breed is always to sell foals when they have them about 6 or 8 months and are already suitable for use in any way. There is a good turnover especially in France where 1200 to 1300 items are sold every year. Most of the facilities we deal with Boulonnais horses are located in the north-west of France, in the areas of its origin such as the district of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais, Nord, Somme, Seine-Maritime and Oise, areas where there are vast pastures of high quality grasses and legumes that can feed them effortlessly.
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