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Published: 2024-02-04 18:54:32 Categories: Guides Rss feed


This breed belongs to draft horses that originate from Ardennes – currently France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Nice temperament, efficient and elastic gaits, as well as resilience and resistance to harsh conditions – this extensive yet not completed list includes the most important traits of Ardennes horses. Read our article to find out more!

History of Ardennes horses – one of the most valuable draft breeds

This is one of the oldest draft breeds of horses that is speculated to descend from ancient horses from Solutré that roamed the area during the Palaeolithic era (around 50,000 years B.C) The difficult terrain and harsh conditions created an extremely strong, resilient, and undemanding horse.

Ardennes horses became famous for their bravery during wars – Julius Caesar is supposedly the first general who used this breed for military purposes. These horses were used by Roman legions, medieval knights, as well as Napoleonic soldiers; this was a popular military breed up until the Second World War.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Napoleon gave an order to crossbreed Ardennes horses with Arabians to raise their resilience. Soon after, Ardennes mares were bred with Boulonnais, Percheron, and Thoroughbred stallions.

At first, these horses were not that big; this was a medium-height breed. However, in the 20th century, the needs of people changed – heavy, massive, and muscular working breeds were in demand. That is why during the refinement process of the breed, people mixed Ardennes with Belgian horses to create a very heavy animal. These days, Ardennes most frequently come in this massive type.


Ardennes were imported from France to crossbreed with other horses. What’s interesting, these days the old type of Ardennes horses is considered to be very valuable.

The first official registry of the breed was created in 1929. Today, there are three separate stud books in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. At the end of the 20th century, people founded the Ardennes Horse Society of Great Britain to promote and popularize the breed in the UK. Ardennes are also bred in Sweden and slowly gaining popularity in the USA as well as Australia. Many of these horses are owned by private breeders.

Interestingly, these days there are many different regional breed types for example Trait du Nord, Jutland, Auxois, Swedish Ardennes, or Baltic Ardennes.


Characteristics – the Ardennes

The Ardennes are draft horses with a massive, muscular, and compact body. These horses have convex or straight heads with disproportionately small, upstanding ears. The breed is also characterised by its distinctly wide, massive body with short yet strong neck, as well as short, and thick legs with lush feathering and big, and hard hooves. The Ardennes have extremely muscular and sloping croups, just as in other draft breeds. Additionally, the shoulders are long and sloping, which increases the horse’s pulling strength.

Coat: most common coats are bay, chestnut, roan, and grey.

Height: 155-162 cm

Weight: 800-1000 kg (around 1500 to 2200 pounds)

These horses reach sexual maturity quite fast.


The Ardennes – importance

The Ardennes are known for their resilience, low maintenance and most importantly their immense pulling strength. Thanks to these traits, this breed had been used in agriculture and transportation for a very long time.

The brave and massive Ardennes was also frequently used as war horses - used both as cavalry mounts and as draft horses for pulling wagons and artillery.

Over time, their calm temperament and amazing gait – fluid, draft movements. These days, the horses are used in carriage driving, recreational riding, as well as hippotherapy.

Unfortunately, due to their anatomy and weight, these horses are also used as slaughter animals.



Polish draft breeds and Ardennes

Do Polish draft breeds have some Ardennes genes? Of course! Ardennes is one of the most popular draft breeds that influenced many other existing breeds. In the past, Ardennes horses were exported frequently, which made all the crossbreeding possible.

In Poland, local mares were bred with Ardennes stallions which is why breeds such as Sokolski horses have some of the Ardennes’ DNA in them.


Price of the Ardennes – buying an Ardennes horse

The price for the breed ranges from 10 thousand PLN (around 1900 pounds) to 20 thousand PLN (around 3900 pounds). The low price derives from the low demand for the breed. The price depends on the horse’s age, sex, and training.

The Ardennes in the old type are much more expensive – the number of such horses is low, therefore professional breeders value them highly.



The Ardennes horses are one of the most popular draft breeds (massive and muscular horses) in the world. Their calm temperament, medium height, resilience, and strength made the Ardennes gain a loyal fan base. These traits are also valued by Polish breeders.

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