Vendéen-Charentais Half-bred Breed
This breed, also known as the Demi-sang de l’Ouest, dates back to the early 17th century when the mares of Charente and Vendée were crossed with imports from Holland. Subsequent cross-breeding with Norman and Anglo-Norman, alternating with English Thoroughbred, Arab, Anglo-Arab and Norfolk blood went a long way towards upgrading the breed.
Though by 1920 it was a fixed breed, like the product of Normandy, the crossing with Anglo-Norman Studs continued. Bred and raised in Vendée, Deux-Sévres, Carente, Cahrente Maritime and Vienne, its most distinguished and spirited specimens are found in the Bocage Vendéen, the foremost stud farms at La Roche-sur-Yon, Saintes and Angers. A fine saddle and draught horse, he has in the past served well as a cavalry and artillery horse.
Usually, of large and sturdy build, he stands from 15 to 17 hands, has a high and deep chest, a powerful and well set-on neck, and a rather long heavy parotid head. The top line of the body is good, with exceedingly fine withers, clearly defined and well back.
The shoulder is long and well orientated, the legs sturdy and of good formation, the feet (a consequence of marsh breeding) rather broad and flat. This breed, like the other half-breds raised in France, is nowadays known in that country under the name of Cheval de Selle Francais.
Charollais Half-bred Horse Breed
Raised mainly in the departments of Loire, Saone-et-Loire, Cher, Allier and Niévre, the ancestors were the light little horses of Lorraine, Doubs, and Saone, which, crossed alternately with English Thoroughbreds, Norman Half-breds and Vendéens, improved rapidly, turning into a half-bred composite with a strong indigenous strain totally free of hereditary conflicts.
Accepted in the past as an excellent cavalry and artillery horse, today it has a good reputation as a hunter. Like all other types of half-breds, the Charollais has its own studbook. If not of the most generous build, it has an ample share of blood and quality. Standing 15 to 16½ hands, it is well topped, though a little lacking in the withers, with clean legs and well-shaped feet. There are few greys to be found in this breed.
The Nivernais and Bourbonnais Half-breds are so similar to the Charollais that they may be considered as one, and consequently, all three are known as the Demi-sang Charollais. The Limousin and Charollais Half-breds, in turn, are gathered under the denomination of Demi-sang du Centre, and, like the other half-breed raised in France, they are also known in that country under the name of Cheval de Selle Francais.
Limousin (Half-bred) Horse Breed
Bred and raised at Cantal, Corréze, Pery-de-Dome, Haute-Loire, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Creuse and Indre, the Limousin Half-bred, though lacking the quality, has a great deal of the Anglo-Arab. He is the product of Limousin mares already up-graded and qualified as half-breds and English Thoroughbred, pure-bred Arab, Anglo-Arab, or Anglo-Arab half-bred studs. (A horse is qualified as a half-bred if he has a minimum of 25% of Thoroughbred or Arab blood). After nearly half a century of this, the breed is sufficiently fixed to perpetuate its traits without further crossbreeding.
The oriental origins of the horses of Limousin date back to the Moorish invasion of the 8th century. Under Napoleon I they was deservedly reputed to be excellent saddle horses; but under the Restoration, the breed went into decline, until renewed alternate crossing with English Thoroughbred and Arab finally gave it uniformity.
Today’s Limousin Half-breds, of varying degrees of English Thoroughbred and Arab blood, have a decidedly oriental character. Certain groups have an Anglo-Norman admixture, thereby gaining in size what they lose in quality. On the whole, it is a good riding and light-draught horse.
Possessing all the lines of the pure-bred Anglo-Arab and Anglo-Arab Half-bred, it is taller (average 16 hands) and of the more generous build. Greys are becoming ever-more rare, with chestnut and bay predominating. This breed, like the other half-breds raised in France, is nowadays known in that country under the name of Cheval de Selle Francais.
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