Trait Du Nord
The Trait du Nord, previously also known as Ardennais du Nord or Ardennais de type Nord, is a breed of heavy draft horse developed and bred in the area of Hainaut in western Belgium and in northeastern France. Originally considered a subtype of the Ardennes, it was recognized as an individual breed with the opening of a studbook in 1903. Developed in the fertile Flemish grasslands, it was bred for size and pulling power for agricultural work. By 1855, the horses bred near Hainaut were considered by some veterinarians to be superior to other Flemish draft breeds. The Trait du Nord was used extensively in mining from the late 19th century through 1920, with lesser use continuing through the 1960s. The Trait du Nord continued to be used extensively for agriculture through World War II, but after the war this usage, and the breed population, declined significantly as farming became increasingly mechanized. During the mid-20th century, the breed was in demand for the production of horse meat, and due to this was bred to be larger and heavier. In the early 1970s, the market for horse meat began to decline, and the Trait du Nord, like many European draft breeds, was in danger of extinction. It was not until the 1990s that the breed experienced a slight revival through an increased interest in recreational riding and driving. The Trait du Nord is large, with stallions weighing upwards of 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb), and is bred for traction ability and pulling power. The breed is found in many solid colors, although bay and roan are the most common, and is known to be gentle and easy to handle. Two slightly different types of Trait du Nord are found – a larger type used for heavier pulling and a lighter type used for faster work. The breed is considered to be endangered by the French government, with fewer than 100 new foal births a year. The national breed registry in France is working with local groups in an attempt to promote this breed and bring population numbers back up. The breed currently has a high risk of inbreeding, due to the low number of breeding stallions, and is at risk of extinction.
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