Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Comtois   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Comtois is a French heavy draft breed, that is known for its characteristic flaxen or silver-dapple coat.

The ancestors of the Comtois were brought from northern Germany to France in the 5th century by the Burgundians. Not much is known about the development process of the Comtois aside from the fact that it gradually became popular in France. In the 16th century, Comtois horses were used to improve other breeds in Burgundy.

Starting from the 17th century, Comtois horses began to serve as cavalry horses, who mainly pulled artillery and supplies. In 1812, Napoleon used Comtois horses during his military campaign in Russia. While the French subsequently lost and had to retreat to France, the fact that Comtois horses were able to pull supplies all the way from France to Russia demonstrated their excellent endurance. In fact, during the 19th century, the breed gained such fame as a cavalry horse, that it was exported to other countries as well.

The constant usage of Comtois horses in battlefields, both by the French army and by other armies, created a shortage of strong Comtois horses available for breeding. Therefore, during the 19th century, Comtois horses were crossed with Norman, Boulonnais, and Percheron horses, in order to improve the strength of the Comtois.

During the first decade of the 20th century, bay Ardennese stallions were also crossed with the Comtois to improve the strength of the latter even more. In 1919, the official studbook of the Comtois breed was established, and it was probably around this time that the Comtois began to be bred in a pure manner.

Aside from serving as military horses, many Comtois horses were also used for farm and forestry work. As the 20th century progressed, the mechanization of agriculture reduced the need for heavy horses worldwide. Nevetheless, the Comtois remains one of the most popular draft breeds in France to this day. It is known for its strength and endurance.

The Comtois is a draft horse, and as such it has a large head, a thick neck, a wide and muscular body, and short legs. That said, Comtois horses weigh less on average than most other heavy draft breeds, and their conformation is lighter than the conformation of those heavier breeds.

Originally, most Comtois horses had bay coats, probably because of the usage of bay Ardennese stallions to improve the Comtois during the early 20th century. However, this was changed in the 1980s after the birth of Questeur, a chestnut Comtois stallion. This stallion was so successful that chestnut became the favorable color for the Comtois breed.

Comtois horses come in the colors of flaxen chestnut, and bay. Almost all of the bay horses carry the silver-dapple gene, that gives their manes, tails, and points a silver color. However, in rare cases, the Comtois can also have a regular non-silver bay coat. The coat is always solid, and the only white markings acceptable are facial markings that are not larger than a stripe. Leg markings, on the other hand, are to be avoided, and while the standard accepts leg markings that are lower than the midline of the cannon bone, they are still not considered the ideal. Therefore, in Horse Isle, Comtois horses can only have facial markings. Comtois horses usually stand between 14.3hh and 15.3hh, but the full height range of this breed is 14.1hh to 16.1hh.

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