The ancestors of the modern day Percheron Horses are that of warhorses that carried warriors into battle, while other types of draft horses were working the fields and on farms. They originated in a small province near Normandy, France called Le Perche. These horses were often bred more often for their size and strength. In the 17th century there were in high demand for a variation of different uses; they were often used and became adapted to pulling heavy mail carriages in France. It is believed among many that the Arabian horse played a major role in the development of the Percheron Horse; this supposedly took place around the eighth century. They gained a couple different qualities from the cross breeding of the Arabian blood such as a refined character that can be seen in them today.
Two Arabian horses in particular were responsible for the big influence they had on the Percheron breed, "Godolphin" and "Gallipoly". "Gallipoly" sired one of the most famous Percheron horses, "Jean Le Blanc", who was foaled in 1830. The Percheron horse is presently the most famous draft horse among enthuisiasts.
The Le Pin stud farm in France was a base of operations for breeding the Percheron; in 1760 they took major part in the importation of many Arabian stallions to the stud for the cross breeding with Percheron mares. The Percheron can make a trip averaging up to 35 miles a day.
In the registration process to be included in the stud book, the Percheron must be bred in one of the four departments of the region of Perche: Sarthe, Eure-et-Cher, Loire-et-Cher, and L'Orne. Others can be bred in different areas of France and throughout the rest of the world but they are registered in different stud books. The Percheron became so popular during the 1930s that a government census showed that there were 3 times as many registered Percherons than the four other draft breeds put together. Like a lot of other draft breeds, after the Second World War and the invention of the tractor; the Percheron had come to the brink of extinction. Thanks to the help of many devoted farmers, including the Amish, the horse made it through the draft depression which took place during the 50s and 60s. It was in the late 60s that people began to again realize the usefulness of these horses and they have grown in popularity again.
Aside from basic farm work, the Percheron took part as an artillery war horse and as a practical everyday riding horse. Depending on the type that was in demand, the horse could be bred to be lighter and more useful in riding work or could be bred to be heavier and more useful in draft work. Today it is mostly bred for farmers to perform tasks on their farms. It is also used quite often to further improve other breeds.
Their most famous note is their use by the knights of Charles Martel to stop of the invasion of 732 A.D.