|Mulassier (Trait du Poitevin)|
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Virtually unheard of outside of the Marais region of Southern France, this heavy draft horse has less than 500 total members of the breed left in the world. Only four (4) are known to be in the USA, less than 20 outside of France proper.
Most entries from Horse texts (Encylopedias) are copied over and over again from the same original source. This source at one time listed the horses as "coarse" and "sluggish". The books also choose the ugliest specimen of the horse to represent what is actually a fascinating breed.
Dating back for nearly a thousand years, the Poitevin draft horse was imported from Dutch lines to assist in draining the marshlands (Marais). There is no doubt that the Mulassier and Friesian share similar origins, as the Mulassier is often referred to as 'a heavy Friesian".
While coloration in the breed does vary, no signs of true cream remain. Dun is prevailent, as is black, roan, and gray. Brown and silver dapple on all base colors can be seen, as well as unusual combinations of silver with dun, dun with roan, and other mixes. The horses are not bred in regards to color, but rather to bloodlines, in a carefully scripted program. As only six sire lines remain, the rotation of breeding mares from each "family" line to another of least-related is carefully maintained. Part bred females (females only) that are F2 Generations (3/4 Mulassier, 1/4 Percheron) from approved breeding stallions and approved half-bred mares may be presented for elevation into the regular stud-book.
Horses must be evaluated for their breeding licenses at a Concours (breeding evaluation) each year. Stallions may be limited as to the number of breeding they are allowed. The horses are shown in a natural state, though they may be shod. Manes, tails and leg feather are thick and coarse (not silky) and should not be trimmed, or braided. Tails are not docked. There is no preference as to appointments - a plain rope halter, leather headstall, nylon or stallion bridle can all be seen in the same class at the concours.
Foals often have a curly or wavy coat. The first foal of a Mulassier mare is a Poitou Mule (sired by a Baudet du Poitou donkey). Later foals are horse-foals, sired by purebred Mulassier stallions. The name Mulassier means, literally, mule-breeder. Until the turn of the century, this was the prime use for these horses, besides farm work. Today they are critical in numbers, therefore only one mule foal per mare is produced. Surplus male horse have been gelded and sold in some cases, but in other instances are still bred for meat production.
This information and the photos are provided for Model Horse Collectors to use as documentation within the model-horse show-ring, and for general education. All of this information is what I have learned first-hand in the Breed Association meetings (L'UPRA) in France, in conversations with the French administrators of the breed and of breeders, and in visiting the Concours. The photos are copyrighted, but I will allow their use in documentation if you will please give me the courtesy of leaving the (C) on them or stating this page as your source.
Leah Patton, ADMS Liason, Poitou/Mulassier breeds
American Donkey and Mule Society.
|Kevin X, a bay-roan stallion being presented at a stallion parade for the HARAS in Saintes. The HARAS are state-owned Studs that own stallions of many breeds, and stand the stallions to the public. Photo taken in February.|
|Three shades of dun. The mare in the center is Gitane.
Gitane is by Resede, out of Olive, par Galouis.
|Clementine with foal sired by BOC Breotiere. Note that this mare has extensive flaxen points on her legs. She is a light apricot (red flaxen) dun. She does not have white feet, as those are severely penalized in the Mulassier. As little white as possible is preferred. Sorrel is also a non-preferential color, as it resembles the Belgian's coloration. There are two body types - long legged, and short and compact. This mare is the taller, leaner type.|
|Amiable and foal. The word par is "by", so a foal is par Dartagnan, or whatever the stallion's name is.|
|Elsa, a bay roan mare of the compact type. The rope on her tail leads to her foal's halter. Foals are tied to the dam's tail so that they can not only follow behind, but nurse freely whenever they like.|
|Dartagnan, the best stallion in France. He has been rated number one for many years in a row. He is, obviously, the short, compact body type, with tremendous leg bone, and heavy feathering from the knees and hocks down. Horses are actually evaluated not only on conformation, but on bone and may be measured for circumference of bone.|
|Demoiselle with her mule foal sired by Tito, a Baudet du Poitou jack. Her foal is tied to her tail as described above. In the background are the mare and foal shown above, (Clementine). The mare is being taken in for her evaluation - as stated, the show in a Natural state!|
|Tito, the massivly boned Poitou jack. We visited him on his home farm and saw mules sired by him. Sadly, has has passed away.|
|Dorine. This mare actually DOES have white legs, a wide blaze, and even a belly marking. She was rated low in her class. She is a flaxen red dun sabino.|
|Finette, a lovely blue roan mare with her colt foal par (by) Dartagnan. He wasn't tied to her, and though for the most part he stayed at her side, he sometimes decided he had to buck and play!
|Imperial, a full brother to Dartagnan, with Jocke Wallenberg of Sweden.|
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Thor, my Part-bred Poitou Donkey