The Henson horse, also known as the “Horse of the Bay of the Somme,” is a relatively new breed, developed in the late 20th century in the Picardy region of France. Recognized for its gentle nature and versatility, the Henson was specifically bred for leisure activities and outdoor riding. With its harmonious physique and dun coat, characteristic of the primitive markings, the Henson horse embodies the spirit of adventure and is ideally suited for trekking and outdoor pursuits.
The Henson horse breed was created through a deliberate breeding program that began in the 1970s, with the aim of producing a horse that was well-adapted to the demands of modern leisure and tourism riding. The breed’s foundation stock was mainly composed of Norwegian Fjord horses mixed with local saddle horses, including Thoroughbreds and French Trotters, to refine the breed’s features while enhancing its stamina and temperament. The Henson horse was officially recognized as a breed in 2003, symbolizing the success of this thoughtful and dedicated breeding effort.
Henson horses are known for their friendly and cooperative temperament, making them excellent companions for all age groups. They typically stand between 140 to 155 cm in height, displaying a sturdy build that’s well-suited for endurance and outdoor activities. Their most distinguishing feature is their dun coat, complete with primitive markings such as a dorsal stripe and zebra stripes on the legs, showcasing their unique beauty and genetic heritage.
Originally bred for leisure and tourism, Henson horses have proved themselves to be highly adaptable, excelling in a variety of disciplines including trail riding, trekking, and even competitive sports like endurance riding. Their calm demeanor and sturdy build make them particularly well-suited for beginner riders and therapeutic riding programs, offering a safe and enjoyable riding experience.
Although the Henson is still considered a rare breed, its population has been steadily increasing thanks to the efforts of breeders and enthusiasts dedicated to its promotion and preservation. With an estimated population in the low thousands, the Henson horse enjoys a protective status in France, with breeding programs and initiatives aimed at maintaining its genetic diversity and promoting its unique qualities. The breed’s adaptability and appeal have garnered it a growing interest not only in France but internationally, contributing to its gradual expansion and recognition.
Cheval Henson — Cheval de la Baie de la Somme — Horse of the Bay of the Somme
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