- Feb 2019
- Pennsylvania, US
It seems like compared to the coursers, the destriers were more muscled, especially through the neck and hindquarters, but they are thought to average about 14-15 hands (just over what is considered a pony size) and top out at 16 hands (a little over 160 cm at the withers). Research for this was based on archeological info as well as depictions and descriptions of destriers... There is medieval horse armor in the Royal Armories that was made to fit horses just under 16 hands.Norman destrier was supposedly a big beast. How big it really was, or maybe how not so big, would be anyone's guess, though.
They would have been more like what is now described as a baroque body type, which is pretty light compared to the modern draft breeds (drafts generally being 16-19 hands)... those massive draft frames and heavy muscling were bred for forward pulling strength, not necessarily having the quickness and maneuverability needed by knights under saddle.
Modern “recreations” of destriers are made by crossing Friesians and Andalusians or Percherons and Andalusians. Sounds like a fun mix! Plenty of go, quick transitions, maneuverable, and very athletic/strong.