What you should know about Belgian horses

Alternative Name

N/A

Basic Info

The Belgian horse, Belgian Heavy Horse, or Brabant is a horse breed comes from the West-Brabantian region of Belgium. They are one of the strongest of the heavy breeds. The world's Largest Horse was a Belgian named Brooklyn Supreme, who weighed 3,200 pounds, and stood at 19.2 hands. On average the Belgian will grow to be slightly over 1 ton or 2,000 pounds. Colors normally are a blond with a brighter mane, or a sorrel/ chestnut coloring. In history their main use was to work farms, or ranches. They are considered a working horse, and wagon horse. They are able to pull tremendous amounts of weight-up to over 4,500 pounds for a pair. Today however their uses have exponentially increased. They are still used as work horses, wagon horses, but also show horses, gaming horses, and trail riding horses. Although the overall population of American drafts decline, the Belgian percentage increases.[

Belgian health

N/A

Natural habitat of Belgian

N/A

What do Belgian horses eat?

grass

Belgian behavior and personality

They were easy keepers and willing workers with amiable dispositions. They provided the genetic material from which nearly all the modern draft breeds were fashioned. The government of Belgium played a very energetic role in doing just that. A system of district shows culminating in the great National Show in Brussels, which served as an international showcase for the breed, was established.

The origin of Belgian horses

Belgium

History of Belgian horses

History shows that Belgians are direct lineal descendants of the "Great Horse" of medieval times. The Belgian, as the name implies, is native to the country of Belgium. This little country is blessed with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, providing the thrifty farmers of Belgium with the excellent pastures and the hay and grain necessary to develop a heavy, powerful breed of horse. Belgium lies in the very center of that area of Western Europe that gave rise to the large black horses known as Flemish horses and referred to as the "Great Horses" by medieval writers. They are the horses that carried armored knights into battle. Such horses were known to exist in that part of Europe in the time of Caesar. They provided the genetic material from which nearly all the modern draft breeds are fashioned. Stallions from Belgium were exported to many other parts of Europe as the need to produce larger animals of draft type for industrial and farm use was recognized. There was no need to import into Belgium for she was the "mother lode." It remained only for this ancestral home of the "Great Horse," by whatever name, to refine and fix the type of the genetic material she already had at hand. The government of Belgium played a very energetic role in doing just that. A system of district shows culminating in the great National Show in Brussels was established to serve as an international showcase for the breed. The prizes were generous. Also, inspection committees for stallions standing for public service were established. The result was a rapid improvement into a fixed breed type as the draft horses of Belgium become regarded as a national heritage and, quite figuratively, a treasure. In 1891, for example, Belgium exported stallions for use in the government stables of Russia, Italy, Germany, France, and the old Austria-Hungary Empire. The movement of horses out of Belgium for breeding purposes was tremendous in scope and financially rewarding for her breeders' decade after decade. The American Association was officially founded in February of 1887 in Wabash, Indiana where the breed offices still remain. It was slow going for the Belgian until after the turn of the century. In terms of promotion the Percheron, Clydesdale, and Shire all enjoyed a substantial head start in the US. In 1903 the government of Belgium sent an exhibit of horses to the St. Louis World's Fair and International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. While this effort was attended by plenty of controversy over which type of horse best suited Americans, it also generated a great deal of interest in the breed. From that point forward the breed's acceptance grew steadily. Nearly every major importer in the country included Belgians in their offering. In terms of importing seed stock and establishing new breeders it was none too soon, for the onset of World War I in 1914 brought all importation's to a halt. Suddenly, American Belgian breeders were on their own. Fortunately, they had plenty of the "right kind" with which to develop their own style of Belgian horse. It was during the draft horse decline in the 20's that the Belgian moved into a very solid number two position in this country. Thus, it should not be surprising to know that during the 20's there was a resumption of importing from Belgium on a small scale. With the dramatic upturn in draft horse fortunes in the mid-30's, the importation of horses from Belgium again assumed major proportions for a few years. The last imported Belgian was purchased by E.F. Dygert, an Iowa importer, and landed in New York on January 15, 1940. This was just four months after World War II had started and four months before the German invasion of Belgium. It was about that time that a number of things conspired to nearly end draft horse breeding of any kind. The labor shortage of World War II, the introduction of small, rubber-tired row-crop tractors, and the tremendous push for mechanization in the wake of World War II, put all draft breeds under severe pressure. The decline of interest in draft horse breeding was precipitous and obituary notices were a dime a dozen. The number of annual registrations even dropped under the 200 mark for a couple of years during the early 50's. Then slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the return of the draft horse got underway. As the price of horses recovered so did the breeding. Registrations and transfers made slow but steady gains until in 1980 they surpassed the all time high set in 1937. An average for the next five years was over 4000 registrations and close to 6000 transfers ... easily the greatest five-year period in the breed's history.

See more | Go to horses category