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Although the Boulonnais horse is of different stock and has also some Arabian blood, it looks very much like the Percheron, and can sometimes even be mistaken for one. It seems that it first received Arabian blood from Cesar's cavalry when he conquered Great Britain; later on, the crusades and the Spanish occupation successively provided the Boulonnais mares with more of this Arabian blood which still flows in their veins.






As early as the XVII century, the Boulonnais horse was known and renowned under this name, and already the merchants from the Picardie and Haute-Normandie came to the area in order to buy foals for their trade. Nowadays, the Boulonnais horse is used all along the coast, from the Belgian border to the mouth of the Seine; however, going inland, at the borders of the departments of the Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Aisne, Oise and Seine-et-Oise, the Boulonnais has to compete with the Ardennais, but an even bigger Ardennais, the Trait du Nord,which is just as intrusive. The cradle of the breed is limited to a circle around Boulogne, from Desvres and from Marquise, in the green valleys of the Liane and the Scarpe, on the  bare plateaus above, in the salty meadows of Marquenterre, and finally in the low plain of the Wateringues which extends to the east all the way to Bourbourg, whose bells, as the saying goes, a true "Boulonnais" must have heard at least once in his lifetime.

The last two wars were very hard on the Boulonnais mares : during the first one, the front settled on the borders of the Boulonnais; 20 years later, the mares, when hardly regenerated, suffered again big losses from which they seem today to recover quite miraculously. During the months following the end of the hostilities, the breeders had to travel all over Belgium in order to find the remains of their goods, which had been abandoned by the Germans on the run.
But all these problems could not dry up the sap of the Boulonnais stock, well anchored in its soil.
In order to meet the demands of the trade the Boulonnais horse has been made heavier just like his brothers from other breeds of draught horses, but it has nevertheless maintained its elegance, its unique expression.


His head is less bony, the jowl and eye-sockets are less pronounced than those of the Percheron; the expression of his gaze is even more majestic and his ears very prettily shaped. He may not have the muscular connections, the build or the frame of the Percheron, but the harmony of his well designed shape, the graceful curves of his muscular body, the fineness of the skin, well irrigated by little visible veins, make him look like carved from polished marble.

In the old days, when the fish merchants travelled to Paris without stopping on the way, light coats were preferred because they were easier to see in the dark.
These  pretty "mareyeuses", heavy-set and full of energy, are often white, blueish, almost mother-of-pearl, and their type can still be found on the farms of the Santerre, the Cambrésis and the pays de Caux. Today, coats in different shades of grey like blueish grey, starling grey, trout-like grey, and sometimes even chestnut or bay which, however, remind us a bit too much of the awkward Ardennais, are not only tolerated but even in great demand. However, if we manage to preserve the neck, the quality of the muscles and the energy of the Boulonnais horse, we will do a big favour to breeding on the whole north coast of France. However, if we manage to preserve the neck, the quality of the muscles and the energy of the Boulonnais horse, we will do a big favour to  breeding on the whole north coast of France.