French Trotter Horses
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About French Trotter HorsesAbout French Trotter Horses



Horses in France first began to be selectively bred forrntrotting races in the early to mid-1800s. The French Trotter developedrnprimarily from Norman stock which was crossed with English Thoroughbred andrnhalf-bred hunter types, Norfolk Roadster, and some American Standardbred. ThernFrench Trotter is sometimes referred to as a Norman Trotter, due to therninfluence of the Old Norman horse on the breed's development.rnrn 

rnrnThe early Trotters were rather heavier and coarser than theyrnare now, bearing a greater resemblance to their Normandy ancestors, butrninfusions of Thoroughbred blood have greatly refined the. Early significantrninfluences on the development of the breed were by the stallion Young Rattler,rnfoaled in 1811, who was by the Thoroughbred, Rattler, out of a mare with a highrnpercentage of Norfolk Roadster blood.rnrn 

rnrnEventually five impressive Trotting lines were establishedrnand these were due to the stallions Conquerant, Lavater, Normand, Phaeton, andrnFuchsia. Although there have been infusions of American Standardbred blood, thernFrench Trotter has retained its unusual habit of trotting on the diagonal,rnrather than adopting the lateral pacing of the Standardbred.rnrn 

rnrnAfter the continental trading blockade was raised, followingrnthe defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815, the market-wise Normandyrnbreeders began to use their common but tough, all-purpose Norman stock as arnfoundation for breeding horses for general military use, both riding and lightrndraught, and then, increasingly, to produce specialized horses of both types.rnSupported by the Administration of National Studs, they imported EnglishrnThoroughbreds and, just as importantly in the context of the trotting horse,rnEnglish half-bred or hunter stallions, which were then unknown in France. Theyrnalso imported the incomparable Norfolk Roadster the greatest trotter underrnsaddle and in harness in the whole of Europe.rnrn 

rnrnChief among the early imports was the half-bred YoungrnRattler (foaled 1811), by the Thoroughbred Rattler, out of a mare with NorfolkrnRoadster connections. He is often called "the French Messenger," asrnhis influence on the French Trotter was close to that of Messenger, thernfoundation sire of the American Standardized Young Rattler, together with otherrnhalf-bred stallions and the essential contribution made by the Roadster, thernNorfolk Phenomenon, improved the Norman mares in terms of conformation,rnmovement, and scope, and prepared them for subsequent crossing with EnglishrnThoroughbreds.rnrn 

rnrnThirty years after Young Rattler, Thoroughbreds such as thernHeir of Linne and Sir Quid Pigtail were making their mark. Ultimately, fivernimportant bloodlines became established: Conquerant and Normand, both sons ofrnYoung Rattler; Lavater, a horse by a Norfolk sire; and the half-breds Phaetonrnand Fuchsia. Fuchsia, foaled in 1883, sired 400 trotters, and over 100 of hisrnsons were sires of winners.rnrn 

rnrnIn due course Standardbred blood was added to give thernTrotter more speed, but it has had no effect upon the unique character of thernFrench Trotter, which is a conventional diagonal trotter, unlike thernStandardbred, which in almost every instance is a lateral pacer.rnrn 

rnrnIn 1937, to protect the qualities of the breed, which canrnnow beat world-class harness-racers, the French Trotter Stud Book vas closed tornnon-French bred horses. Recently, however, it was partly opened to let in a fewrnFrench/Standardbred crosses.rnrn 

rnrnThe French Trotter excels at both ridden and driven trottingrnraces, and maintains a particularly balanced and level stride.rnrn 

rnrnThe Trotters are bred for functional, not aesthetic purposesrnand there is quite some variation of physical characteristics within the breed.rnHowever, in general terms, they tend to have a slightly heavy and large head,rnwhich is plain, but not unattractive.rnrn 

rnrnThe neck is of good proportional length, and is well set tornshoulders which are becoming increasingly sloped. The withers are usually quiternrounded, the back broad and strong, with extremely muscular quarters. The legsrnare very well conformed, being strong and muscular with good joints, hard,rndense bone and very hard hooves.rnrn 

rnrnThey tend to be chestnut or bay in color, but can be anyrnsolid color, and stand approximately 16.2 hands highrnrn 

rnrnSource: The Encyclopedia of Horses & Ponies.

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