The Auxois is a horse breed from eastern France. It is a large breed, with some individuals weighing over 910 kilograms (2,010 lb), bred for horse meat, agricultural work and leisure pursuits. Overall, members of the breed are solid and muscular in appearance. They are usually bay or bay roan in color, although some other colors are accepted by the breed registry, and are known for their power and docility. The Auxois is a direct descendant of the Bourguignon of the Middle Ages. In the 19th century, blood was added from other French draft breeds before the creation of a stud book in 1912. After the creation of the stud book, only purebred Auxois or Ardennais and Trait du Nord crosses could be registered. World War I interrupted efforts to set the breed standard, but testing resumed in 1920, and between then and World War II the Auxois was the pride of regional farmers. The breed reached its peak in the 1930s, but by the 1960s began to decline with the advent of mechanization. By the 1970s, the Auxois had almost become extinct, and the French government began pushing the breeding of all native draft horses for meat production, as opposed to agricultural usage. However, the meat of the Auxois was not considered high quality, and this, combined with a lower-than-expected market for meat, led to a continued decline in French draft horse populations. In the 1990s, the French government reversed its position on breeding for meat, and began promoting draft breeds for leisure pursuits. The Auxois continues to be rare, having the eighth-smallest population numbers of the nine native French draft breeds. An annual breed show is held in Semur-en-Auxois, and the Auxois is frequently seen at the Paris International Agricultural Show.
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