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The Comtois is a light draft horse possessing liveliness, energy, and endurance, with a trainable temperament. and is second only to the Breton in population in France.
The Comtois draft breed is named after the hilly border area on the French-Swiss frontier where the ancient Comtois was first imported in the sixth century to improve the horses of Burgundy. Always used for farm work and draft work in mountainous and rugged country, the breed is strong and hardy.
The Comtois also has lively gaits and became famous as a military horse, much used by the armies of Louis XIV and also of Napoleon in Russia. In the 1900’s an infusion of other draft blood including Norman, Percheron, Boulonnais and small Ardennais sires, was added to produce improved legs.
Comtaois colors range from various shades of chestnut, almost always with thick flaxen manes and tails, to bay and brown. Height ranges from 14.1 to 15 hands. The Comtois is stocky with a muscular, straight neck and good withers. The head is square with alert eyes. The Comtois possesses a surefootedness and good balance which predispose it to use in the geographic area in which it is famous. The legs are short but strong, with good joints, clean tendons, nicely shaped feet and little feathering. The neck and quarters are muscular and the chest is wide and deep, with a rounded rib cage. The loins are short and strong, the croup wide, the thigh well developed.
In France, a show is held each fall with breeding classes as well as riding and harness classes.
Characteristics of the Comtois horse are liveliness, energy, and endurance, with a trainable temperament. The Comtois is still used in its mountain homeland for timber and vineyard work and is very long lived and capable of work in hilly terrain. Breeding has spread to the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the Alps all the mountain areas for which this horse is so eminently suited.