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'Vagabond is off to Flicka'
We are delighted that Baudet du Poitou gelding 'Vagabond d'Hamerton' (...


''Mini Mules' anyone'
Miniature Shetland Pony mare 'Kitty' owned by Jacky Pringle and Chelse...


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Baudet-du-Poitou (Click images to enlarge in a separate window)


Probably the most famous and rarest breed of donkey, the Poitou takes its name from a lush and fertile French province surrounding its regional capital, Poitiers. These huge donkeys which range from 13hh to 15hh have massive heads, long ears, heavy legs and feet, and most characteristically a long, thick coat which is always brown-bay with no trace of an eel stripe. The conformation has not changed in over 400 years. Specifically bred to produce mules when crossed with a massive local heavy horse breed called the 'Trait Poitevin', the male Poitou Donkey is called the 'Baudet'. The female is the 'Anesse'.

The Poitevine Mule was in great demand from the middle ages onward, and a stud book was established in 1884 to improve both the donkey and the mulassier horse. Large numbers of mules were used by the French army in the Congo and North Africa, and the Poitou Donkey was exported to many countries including the USA. But by the 1950s there was little demand for the mules as they had been replaced by mechanized lorries, tractors and jeeps. This was catastrophic for the donkey, and when a study was undertaken in 1977 it was found that only around 40 animals survived, and the Poitou Donkey was on the very verge of extinction.
A concerted rescue plan was established in France; the Asinerie Nationale was founded as was an association to preserve the breed, la SABAUD ('Save the Baudet'). A breeding programme was started with two directives, the maintenance of the original breed in one stud book (livre 'A'), and the importation of Portugese jennies for a carefully controlled introduction of new blood (livre 'B'). The two stud books have now been combined under the control of the Haras Nationale, which issues all the pedigree certificates. Numbers have risen slowly, but today there are still only a few hundred Poitou Donkeys in France and a few other countries including England. All still have their original French papers; if a donkey does not, it is not a Poitou!