Limousin is the ultimate horse farming area. During the Renaissance, it became the birthplace of a renowned breed of horses, giving prestige to the province and its stud farms.
From the 16th to the 18th centuries, many authors praised the qualities of Limousin horses: endurance, finesse, agility, beauty… they were the king’s court’s favourite mount. A famous naturalist by the name of Buffon wrote « the best saddle horses come from Limousin and they are excellent for hunting… ».
Right before the Revolution began, Pompadour’s royal stud farm, which had just been created, replaced the other Limousin farms and rapidly became one of the province’s largest stallion depots. It produced Arabian and Limousin stallions and was able to supply the entire king’s court, as well as the saddle horse cavalry. The Arabian stallions had already started having an influence on the Limousin breed which was also being crossbred with Spanish horses.
This was the golden age for Limousin horses, who had become extremely popular. However, repeated demand during the Empire wars virtually wiped out the breed. Between 1813 and 1815, 12.000 Limousin horses died on the battlefield and the fear of new requisitions put an end to their breeding
In the first half of the 19th century, Limousin horses progressively disappeared and were replaced by the Anglo-arabian breed, at the instigation of Pompadour stud farm’s successive directors.
Anglo-arabians, also known as French thoroughbreds came from crossbreeding English thoroughbreds, but especially Arabian horses, mares and stallions, among which the famous Nichab and Massoud, purchased undercover of the « Orient missions ». Thus, Pompadour became the conservatory of « origin” horses from the finest Anglo-arabian lineage.
When equestrian sports developed in the 20th century, Anglo-arabian horses, and particularly those from Pompadour, acquired a sports reputation in every area, including obstacle jumping, dressage and three day events.
From Limousin horses to Anglo-Arabians
Nowadays, Limousin is famous for its beef. But since the Renaissance, it has mainly been renowned for its horse breeding. This video describes the remarkable Limousin breed of horses, which no longer exists, and the Anglo-Arabian breed, which originated in Limousin.