Monday, August 30, 2010

Breed Study by the PHAOA: Percheron Action Described

Percheron Type Study
By: Ellis McFarland, collaborating with 44 leading judges and breeders in the USA and Canada. 1938. This work is a subsequent publication to clarify an earlier publication on the Ideal Percheron Horse "How to Select Percherons," 1936.

At the same time, Ross Butler was commissioned to illustrate the perfect Percheron and to sculpt a model of it. Prints and these models can sometimes still be found. Examples of these wonderful pieces of art are copied above from the Ross Butler gallery site for educational purposes.

The text below comes from the study written in 1939

True Action Desired:

"In an effort to focus attention on the importance of correct type for Percherons, it is not the intention to disregard the subject of action. Good action is recognized generally as one of the outstanding qualities of the Percheron breed.

...The breed is noted for its light-stepping horses. Farmers no longer want the extra big, clumsy-footed, thick headed draft horse. They prefer the up-headed, smart-eared type with a comparativey long neck and a trim throatlatch that can step lively if necessary.

...True action for all practical purposes is essential in a good work horse. True action combined with high action is ideal for a show horse..

Those at the Chicago International Livestock Exposition who saw Damascus and Encanter at the time they were made grand champions in 1935 and 1937, respectively, saw draft horse action that no other draft breed has equalled in many years, perhaps never. These horses picked their feet up with a mechanical like precision that gave real distinction. They were ton horses, but they could walk, trot and turn around with great ease. Breeders and judges should keep these two in mind as the ideal of superb action...

Quickness of step, coupled with a good disposition, is characteristic of the breed. Percherons are noted for their good dispositions and a quick step indicates as unusual degree of intelligence. Because of these qualities and the added advantage of the Percheron high-headedness, men on the lead-strap on show day claim less fatigue than those with other draft breeds. Percherons have the enviable reputation as the the smartest-headed of all the draft breeds."

Another section of the study concentrates of height. This is what the study concludes about height:

The popularity of the Percheron continues because it come in all sizes for the various needs of prospective users. The big, heavy horse is not as popular in America as in the past due principally to the slight demand in cities for extra heavy geldings for big truck hauling. However, the big ones are still preferred in England. Breeders in that country want extra heavy-boned, large framed animals.

In the French shows two classes are provided, namely, one the big and one for the medium sized Percheron."

To end:

There is always something new to learn in exploring the Percheron breed in times past. The 1920s to the 1940s favored heavy animals, with a lot of bone. But it turns out, that even in the period when a very bulky horse was desired, action was still paramount. What comes around, goes around.

Lady Roxy 210562 and Lady's Carpo (231485). First prize mare and foal, 1938 National Percheron Show.

Registered Percherons working at Monocacy Farms, Frederick, MD. Photo from 1937.

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