Percherons have a long and storied history, although the exact origin of the ancient breed is still unknown. For sure, horses from the Le Perche region of France, 50 miles southwest of Paris, were mated with Arab horses on several occasions. The industrious breeders of the Le Perche region then set about perfecting the breed as needs required. Percherons are draft horses, meaning they are strong, large animals, as well as calm and easily trained. They were obvious candidates for war horses during medieval times, but as Europe calmed, they came into use as carriage horses. Their breeders in Le Perche continued to tweak the horse, favoring various traits over the years as needs changed. When trains replaced carriages, the horses were bred to pull buses in the cities and for heavy work in shipping yards and on farms. Because of this utilitarianism, Percherons spread throughout the world, always recognizable by their upright bearing and large size.
In the United States, the Percheron was one of the most popular draft horse breeds until after World War II. At its peak in the 1930s, the Percheron Horse Association of America recorded of 10,000 animals. Currently, however, the American Percheron horse has only about 3500 registered animals, as opposed to the almost 1000 animals registered with the Percheron Horse Society of France. These animals are used for draft work, advertising, logging, parades, and displays.