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12 Things You May Not Know About The Ardennes Horse

If I already didn’t know what the Ardennes are, I would have thought it’s the name of some mountain range in the Asian region. But, the Ardennes is a type of horse breed. In fact, it is one of the oldest breeds of draft horses, originating from the Ardennes region in Luxembourg, France and Belgium.

These horses (known also as the Ardennais Horses) are typically broad and heavy boned with muscular legs and feathery fetlocks. They have been used throughout history for draft work. They have also been used to create several other breeds throughout Asia and Europe.

Here it is in a form of my favorite toy:


Here are 12 things you probably didn’t know about the Ardennes Horse:

1. The Average Ardennes Weighs 1500 To 2200 Pounds

Average Ardennes Weighs 1500 To 2200 Pounds
Source: Heavyhorses.org.uk

The Ardennes is one of the earliest heavy breeds, with a strong infusion of Belgian draught horse blood for strength and size. It has a massive body, huge legs and short back, and weighs 1500 to 2200 pounds. Despite its size, it is easy to handle and having lived in a very harsh environment, it is naturally economical to keep.

2. The Ardennes Was Particularly Favoured By Julius Caesar

The Ardennes was heavily praised by Julius Caesar who described the horse as ‘hard, tireless and rustic’. He recommended them for their vigour in cavalry work. Even after his death, the horse was employed by other emperors for official uses in the empire.



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3. The Ardennes Was Also Favored By The Great Napoleon

These horses were also favored by Napoleon. It is said that he owed his return to Niemen to his cavalry horses, which happened to be the Ardennes. He glorified them as extremely hardy horses that could withstand the bitter cold that was responsible r the destruction of 10,000 horses. The Ardennes managed to pull wagons through deep mud and snow.

4. The Ardennes Was Heavily Used As A War Horse

Similarly to other horse breeds with a long history (e.g. Marwari Horse), Ardennes was used as a war horse. Much later in time, any middle Ages knights commented on the remarkable agility and strength of the Ardennes Horse. For this reason, they were used for carrying soldiers into the battlefield even when they were suited up in full armour.

5. Ardennes Meat Is Considered A Delicacy

During the first and the second world wars, Ardennes meat was used to feed hundreds of soldiers. When an Ardennes died in battle, or when it became mortally wounded, they were provided as food to the troops who were on the verge of starvation after long campaigns. The taste for its meat has seemingly never disappeared in places like France and Belgium where they are still considered a delicacy.

6. The Ardennes Is Much Taller Than The Average Horse

The Ardennes horse ranges between 15 to 16 hands, whereas most other horse breeds range between 13 to 14 hands. They have bulky heads and a straight or convex profile. They also have broad faces and small, pointed ears.

7. Its Most Common Colors Are Gray, Chestnut, Roan and Palomino

The common colors for the Ardennes draft horse are chestnut, gray, palomino and roan. In rare cases, if their coat color is black, such breeds are not registered.

8. The Ardennes Gets Its Name From The Area It Inhabits

These horses get their name from the area where they originated from, in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

9. The Ardennes Was Used To Create Several Other Horse Breeds

The Ardennes draft horse was used in the creation of three different breeds of horses: the Baltic Ardennes, the Swedish Ardennes and the Russian Heavy Draft.

10. The Ardennes Is A Very Gentle And Kind Beast

The Ardennes Is A Very Gentle And Kind Beast

Despite its huge size, the Ardennes is a very gentle and docile creature. It is very tolerant and kind too.

11. The Ardennes Is A Multi-talented Breed

During the olden days, the Ardennes was used to pull heavy supplies and artillery thanks to their strength and stamina. Today, they are used as farm horses since they have a nice muscular body. They are also used for endurance and general riding. Additionally, they have been used throughout history to improve the quality of other breeds.

12. The Ardennes Has Remained Unchanged For The Last 15,000 Years

The Ardennes horse is a descendant of the Solutrian breed which occupied the Meuse and Rhone region around 50,000 B.C. Recent research has discovered that the Ardennes horse remained unchanged for the last 15,000 years, taking the breed back to the ice age era.

And that’s all we have about the Ardennes draft horses. If you’re interested in learning more about other horse breeds, you can have a look at the following books about horse breeds. If you want to have a bit of fun, you should try our popular horse breeds quiz.

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Horses & Foals since 2017. Horses have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.


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2 thoughts on “12 Things You May Not Know About The Ardennes Horse”

  1. Wow, these things are huge! I love all the long hair though, it looks so majestic while it moves. It is amazing how long horses have been around and how long they have been trained by us.

  2. I am not so sure that the statement daying they are taller than most other breeds of horses…the Clydesdale is right up there if i recall correctly ot is a clydesdale that holds the world record for the tallest horse…I had a paint that was 16 hands, thoroughbreds are right there in that range…I believe anything under 13 hands is considered a pony. You had some interesting facts, but I began to wonder when I read the height fact…then you lost me….sorry!

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