Percheron Draft Horses
Percheron's are direct descendants of the first horses. By the 17th century horses produced in Le Perche had attained widespread notoriety and were in demand for many different uses. The Percheron of this time showed less scale and was probably more active. He stood from 15 to 16 hands high.
In the early 19th century the French government found a stud at Le Pin for the development of the army. In 1823, a horse named Jean Le Blanc was foaled in Le Perche and all of today's Percheron bloodlines trace directly to this horse.
Percherons were first imported to the United States in 1839, by Edward Harris of Moorestown, New Jersey. The stallions, Normandy and Louis Napoleon, were imported to Ohio in 1851. Louis Napolean was later sold into Illinois and wound up in the hands of the Dunham family who were instrumental in forming the Percheron Association.
Thousands of Percherons were imported to America in the last half of the 19th century, and importations continued up until World War II. The Percheron quickly became the favorite of both the American farmer and the teamster who moved freight on the nations city streets. The Percheron was so popular that by 1930, the government census showed that there were three times as many registered Percherons as the other four draft breeds combined.
Following World War II, the invention of the modern farm tractor nearly made the breed extinct. As America modernized and mechanized, the Percheron was all but forgotten. However, a handful of farmers, including many Amish, dedicated to the preservation of the breed, kept it alive through the next twenty years of the draft horse depression.