Percherons are known as one of the bigger equine breeds. These gentle creatures can stand between 15 to 19 hands and weigh around 2600 lbs. One of the many reasons that they are bred is for their good temperament. While being so big these horses are known to be smart, hardworking, as well as powerful. They are known for their big muscling in their legs making them look tough. Despite their size, they tend to have good conformation. When looking at the conformation, people look for a round hip, visible muscling throughout the body, wide chest, long croup, and have balance. The coloring of these horses originally was
predominantly grey and white. Today we have a range of colors such as grey, white, black, sorrel, bay, roans, as well as other coat colors. When looking at the Percheron, the most defining features are the neck, eye, forehead, and face shape. While they will have some markings, too much
white is considered undesirable. The difference between the mares and stallions is that the mares will have a more feminine look to their face than the stallions. Due to the way they carry their head with character, some think this is a clear tie to their Arabian lines.
The first original lines of the Percheron is still unclear, but their breed is known to be tied back to Le Perche, France. In the 17th century the breed was widely known in Europe. During this time horses were used for pulling carts and coaches. By the 19th century the breed was altered for war. A horse by the name of Jean LeBlanc was the first horse foaled after this alteration and the Percheron line now ties back to him. When the breed was first started they were mainly white and grey so that knights could see the horses in the dark. That way they could easily find the right kind of horse to pull. By the 19th century, the breed was being transported to the U.S. These horses became popular in the U.S. as well because farmers could use them on the farms and they can be used on the streets. By 1876 the Percheron Association was created and so was the first stud book for this breed. During WWII, the tractor was invented making the need for horses to diminish. By the renaissance the breed grew because they became useful for working in the snow where tractors would fail. After this Percherons were famous for hayrides, sleighs, and parades. Today these horses compete in fields like this such as hitching.
Since they are like draft horses, they have the similar characteristics and health. One of the weaknesses of this breed is that they are susceptible to the glycogen synthase 1 form of Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy. They are known to conduct scratches due to their feathers when it gets soaked and caked in soil during the wet season. The horses will experience muscles stiffness and weakness. One of their many strengths is that they are very versatile. Percherons have more agility than most draft horses. They can be trained to do anything from pulling carts to jumping. Due to their big nature, they can pull heavy loads and work long hours. They can adjust to different environments and conditions. To most people these giants are known as easy keepers and do not have a lot of health risks.
This information was found at www.percheronhorse.org/
Me competing in the AVA Nationals 2016 in Tennessee (upper level)
First off let me start by answering one question... What is equestrian vaulting? The answer is simple. Equestrian vaulting is a combination of dance and gymnastics on the back of a moving horse. This is one of the safest equestrian sports out there. With different elements, vaulting can be used as different therapy techniques. The basic ridding seat can help a rider with core strength and balance while doing the most basic skill. The mill is when the rider turns around in a full 360 while sitting of the horse. This skill will also help with balance as well as flexibility. These moves as well as others are important to develop motor skills, understanding instructions, and learning control.
For people who lack certain skills, vaulting can be essential to their routine. Equestrian vaulting is similar to therapeutic riding, the difference is that with vaulting riders have more freedom. In vaulting, riders can get sidewalkers for assistance just like in therapeutic riding. While being on the horse, riders understand how to do their moves with the movement of the horse and also learn spatial awareness while being on the horse. It also allows riders to move at their own pace so their skills can develop without getting overwhelmed. Riders form bonds with their horses and they learn to trust these big animals. With vaulting, the riders aren't the ones controlling the horses making it easier to focus on their own tasks. There are a few clubs in the American Vaulting Association who are made up of adults and kids with special needs. They don't let their disabilities stop them and they compete in AVA competitions. They put their hearts into the sport, and it shows that they have a good time.
For me vaulting was more of emotional therapy. With the stress from school, social life, and expectations I often found myself constantly overwhelmed. When I vaulted I was able to set challenges for myself and when I reached them I was relieved. By vaulting I could forget about the world around me and focus on what the horse and I were trying to accomplish during practice. I would look forward to practices where I can get my "aromatherapy" of horse smell and focus on the task at hand.
Therapy comes in many forms. Equestrian vaulting is one of the few that can be personalized to meet a wide variety of needs. While the challenges vary per rider the feeling of accomplishment and the relief from the therapy is a feeling that everyone can relate to. Vaulting is unique in the way that there are a wide variety of organizations. To find a competitive vaulting club near you visit https://www.americanvaulting.org/findclub/