The Poitevin
Tiffardière
male, aged 13 years


Born and bred in the marshes of Western France, the Poitevin is the least known of nine French heavy breeds, and the most endangered. Its reputation was made by the magnificent mules bred by the mares for centuries, the biggest and strongest mules in the world! But as a horse it was sneered at as "a heavy horse that has more conformational faults than most, is singularly unattractive in appearance and has little potential as a working horse" according to Elwyn Hartley Edwards. Yet, as a descendant of the Flemmish horses brougth to Poitou in the 17th century to drain the marshes, it is related to the Shire - and hence to the Clydesdale - whose ancestors came from Holland to reclaim the Fens.

Insolite, Hostie, Linotte (aged 2 weeks) Whilst most heavy horses were bred for specific purposes - including meat production - the only work required of the Poitevin was that it sired enough mares to provide for the booming mule trade. It has therefore retained all the characteristics of the "primitive" horse, including the rare dun colour. It is lighter than most draught horses and its gait is sprightly; when black, it is a heavy friesan, with abundant feathers and flowing mane and tail.

When four wheel drives replaced mules, the poitevin declined and was saved only thanks to the dedication of a few breeders who kept mares because their grandfathers had made their fortunes with them. But numbers plummeted, with only c. 220 females and 40 males left in 1992. Numbers are slowly recovering, now reaching c. 400 animals. Hors Taxe (aged 3 years)


Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe the Poitevin is a magnificent horse, pleasant to look at, hard working and gentle, and with a future!


Idoine
When two years of age, Idoine won first prize in the young stallion category!


courtesy of Anne Saint Girons
Please click here to learn more about the Poitevin horses


Association des Races Mulassières -
210 ave. de la Venise Verte - 79007 NIORT - FRANCE.


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Updated: October 2005.