Traits du Nord: The challenge of innovating a breed

The 109th National Trait du Nord Women’s Competition will be held in Cambrai on July 23 and 24. Followed by a parade on Place Aristide-Briand, over a weekend it allows them We shine our spotlight on this rustic breed that is struggling to increase their numbers.

500 people are expected at the Traits du Nord parade on Sunday afternoon on Place Aristide-Briand in Cambrai. © Trait du Nord Horse Breeding Syndicate

Its first edition dates back to 1913. Since then, the tradition has continued every year: the national women’s competition Traits du Nord returns with its 109th edition on July 23 and 24 in Cambrai.

Registrations are now closed, 64 mares and mares are preparing to compete with their breeders. ” Females will present themselves in the profile before a panel of judges to mark each one in order to place it in the breed’s standards.Léa Befve, project manager at the horse breeder association Trait du Nord explains. The higher the rating, the better. »

The jury will pay attention to different criteria: head, neck, extremities or apex, before studying the animal’s speed during the round trip on foot then trot.

The females will be groomed exactly the same: a tricolor (blue, white, red) braid on the head, a fluffy braid on the tail. ” The leader will wear a white shirt, trousers, red belt and navy blue tie add Lea Befve.

find blood elsewhere

On Sunday, a number of mares will also be presented to an approval committee. The specialty of the horse breed is indeed the approval of horses from other related breeds – Belgian, Dutch or Auxois traits – but respecting the standards of northern traits. According to the note, the mares were approved. Or not.

Purpose ? Allow race extension. With an estimated 70 births per year, the Trait du Nord is one of the most endangered species in France. If the numbers are still hard to estimate, the challenge is to maintain and strengthen them. 24 stallions are approved for breeding in 2022 – including 19 in Hauts-de-France – and between 115 and 120 mares are insured each year. ” The difficulty is increasing the breed’s number of births while avoiding inbreeding, Léa Befve explains, more complex with a small workforce. We have to find blood elsewhere. »

Genetics are also studied. The regional center for genetic resources therefore initiated a study on the genetic variation of the Traits du Nord breed, which included a classification made on a database listing all horses in the region. France (Sire), managed by the French Horse Institute. ” The concern is to establish a mating matrix to help breeders and clarify the herd “Lea Befve explains.

Flexible horse looking for a new contract of life

Chosen for strength and ability to pull agricultural tools,” The Trait du Nord was above all a working horse, used at the time for agriculture “Léa Befve recalls. With the development of mechanization, it was important to reduce its manpower, but slaughtering still allowed the breed to be maintained.

Today, we focus on usingLéa Befve continued, for each person’s competition or pleasure, and we try to develop the work of the horse in the town, in the forest. Trait du Nord can do it all. Some equestrian centers use them to make tunnels: this shows that the horse is very versatile. »

Works for maintaining natural areas and forests, marshes or grasslands in sensitive areas, watering flowerbeds in cities, garbage collection but also transporting people and school buses: Trait du Nord is currently trying to write a new chapter with its breeders who are more passionate than ever.

Louise Tesse

Read more: The program of the national women’s competition Traits du Nord

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