The Percherons of Bar U

“These horse may be from the original Bar U Percheron line. Most horses in this part of Alberta have some part of that blood line.”

This from Russ who was showing us around the ranch via wagon. Previously we’d spent time with Patrick in the barn learning how to ride side saddle, about shoeing a horse, and how to use a lasso a wooden stump shaped to look like a cow. La Niña also got friendly with Gizmo the Barn Cat who gladly accepted treats and belly rubs.

The Percherons that pulled our wagon work alternate days. Each pair works well as a team so they are rarely split up. As we wended our way to the top of a hill the pair pranced and preened in unison. La Niña took a special liking to the horse on the left because (her words) “it has a fancier prance.”

While the Bar U is historically known for its cattle ranching, it was also famous for its world class Percheron horses, which at one time numbered 1,000 and was the largest herd of pure bred Percheron horses in the world.

The Percheron line that entered Alberta came from the Perche Valley in northern France. The first of these horses arrived in 1909 when George Lane imported a stud and brood mare stock to the Bar U. Over the next decade, Lane obsessively continued to increase the herd to a size that gained international recognition.

For more information you can check out the book The Bar U & Canadian Ranching History By S. M. Evans.

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