Belgian horse

Belgian horse

Belgian horse, one of the largest breeds of draft horses of pure European descent. It has a long history, antedating the Christian era, but became especially popular during the Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th cent. the breed was exported from Belgium to many European countries and became popular as a general working horse. It was not imported to the United States until the 1800s and it was slow to gain favor there because of its ungainly appearance. The breed is characterized by a husky, barrellike appearance and brute strength. It is generally sorrel or chestnut in color, stands just under 17 hands (68 in./170 cm) and weighs over 2,000 pounds (900 kg).

The Belgian horse, Belgian Heavy Horse, or Brabant is a draft horse breed which comes from the West-Brabantian region of Belgium. They are one of the strongest of the heavy breeds.


Colors normally are a type of light chestnut sometimes called a "sorrel," with a flaxen mane.

On average the Belgian will grow to weigh slightly over 1 ton or 2,000 pounds. Currently, the world's tallest Belgian Draft is Radar, a gelding foaled in 1998 in Iowa. He stands at 19.3½ hands high, which means he is 6 feet 7½ inches (2.02 metres) tall at the withers, and weighs over 2,400 lb (1,090 kg).

The world's largest Belgian Horse was named Brooklyn Supreme, who weighed 3,200 pounds (1,450 kg) and stood at 19.2 hands (1.98 m).

They are able to pull tremendous weights. At the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado, a team of two horses in the Heavyweight class pulled 17,000 pounds a distance of 7 ft 2 in (7,700 kg a distance of 2.18 m). The team of Belgians weighed 4,800 pounds (2,200 kg). At the Iowa State fair, the heavyweight champions in the pulling contest pulled 14,600 pounds the complete distance of 15 ft (6,690 kg, 4.6 m). The team consisted of one Belgian and one Percheron weighed 3,600 pounds (1,600 kg).

Breed history

Historically, though it is possible they may have had ancestors who were destriers in the Middle Ages, their main use was as a farm horse.

Importation of Belgians to the USA ended in bulk after the beginning of the Second World War with Erwin F. Dygert transporting the last Belgians out of Europe as the war was beginning.

Although the overall percentage of draft breeds among American horses has declined, the number of Belgians has increased.


Belgians are still used as working animals, but have also become popular as show horses, gaming horses, and even as trail riding horses.

Other meanings

In Britain, "Belgian Black" is a colloquialism used to describe a Friesian horse.


External links


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