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The birth of the first Boulonnais colt foal in Gloucestershire earlier this week helps secure the future for the rare French draught breed in Britain.

The foal was born at 1am on Monday (13 June) from a mare, Maya 119, who was imported from France in February by Rachel Hossle.

He has been named ‘Gideon Primus d’Angleterre’ meaning ‘noble friend first of England’.

Rare Boulonnais colt foal: Gideon Primus d'Angleterre

“I feel overwhelmed and delighted and hope he will do the breed proud,” said Ms Hossle, who has spent the past month sleeping overnight at the stables awaiting his arrival as her yard is three miles away from her home.

The colt, the 13th Boulonnais to arrive in the UK, will be kept entire as there are no other stallions in the country.

Ms Hossle bought her first Boulonnais mare last May unseen from a dealer in Devon after seeing pictures on social media.

She is the founder of the Boulonnais Draught Horse Society UK.

“I want to promote and preserve the breed in the UK as all-rounders. They can jump, do endurance, are wonderful to hack out, drive or pull a plough,” she said.

Rare Boulonnais colt foal: Gideon Primus d'Angleterre

Described as “the white marble horse”, the French breed is an agile heavy horse lighter than a Shire.

Historically the smaller types were used to pull carts of fresh fish from Boulogne to Paris. The larger horses were used for heavy draught work both on farms and in cities.

Numbers dropped dangerously low in France after the WW1 and WW2, partly due to the war and partly due to the mechanisation of farming.

Today there are under 1,000 horses left in Europe, mainly concentrated in the Saumur area by the French/Belgium border.

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Recently the breed’s size and stature has started being appreciated by the French police, which has added them to their ranks as riding horses.

Ms Hossle said her goal is to compete at HOYS 2017 in the ridden heavy horse class, which is being introduced this year.

“HOYS have confirmed the breed can be added to the 2017 qualifying breeds,” she said.