The Ardennais, also called Ardennes after the area between France and Belgium, is regarded as the founder of the European draft horses. Its tremendous strength has been used on both the farm and the battlefield. This breed is considered to be a direct descendant of the ancient Solutré horse, a small breed (13.2 to 15hh) originally found only in the French and Ardennes. This breed pulled Napoleon's cannons and other guns in other wars.
The Ardennais is a compact type of horse. The Ardennais has a low, flat forehead that gives it a straight profile. The wide frame and short legs give an impression of compact strength and power. They are not often used for farming today, but these good-natured, easy-to-handle horses are still popular at shows. The typical color is red roan, but the coat may also be bay, chestnut, gray or palomino; brown and light chestnut colors are also accepted.
In the 19th century some Arab blood was introduced, to be followed by Percheron, Boulonnais, and the almost inevitable Thoroughbred. The modern Ardennais is an energetic, good-looking, chunky little horse - he is often said to be built like an equine tractor.