The Belgian horse is a breed that the name itself tells the country of origin- Belgium. It is a coldblood, heavy, draft horse that is native to West-Brabantian region of Belgium. This region is blessed with fertile land and excellent pastures which can develop a heavy, strong horse breed. The breed is also called Belgian Heavy Horse or Brabant and is one of the most powerful and versatile heavy horse breeds.
One theory tells that their ancestry comes from the time of Caesar in the Middle Ages when large black horses were used for the war purposes. These -Great Horses- were called Flemish or Brabant and the genetic material proves that there is a slight difference with all modern draft horses. In the 15th and 16th century the breed was exported from Belgium throughout Europe as working animal and to improve the local stock. The first official studbook was formed in 1885. The first arrivals in the United States were in the 19th century and the last were at the beginning of the Second World War. There they were used mostly for farm work, but comparing with the Brabant from Europe; these were bred to be somewhat taller and lighter bodied with long, sloping shoulders and pasterns. In 1887, an Association was established in Indiana, in order to register and follow tracks of all Belgian Draft horses, which actually are todays most popular of the all other draft horses in the USA. Until 1940 the Belgian from the United States and from Europe were considered to be the same breed, but the American bloodlines are taller, more refined and almost all of them are chestnut or roan with flaxen, white or blond mane, tale and points, thus they differ from the original stock.
The Belgian is a big, powerful horse with a deep, strong foot and overall muscled appearance. The head is large and short with slightly concave or straight profile set on a muscular and short neck. The body is deep with a short, broad back and powerful lions. The quarters are massive; legs are strong, lean and sound with medium-sized hooves and some limited feathering.
Their average height is between 15.3-17.3 hands but sometimes they can exceed up to 18 hands. The weight of the Belgian horse is between 1800-2000 pounds (slightly over 1 ton) and they held the world record for the tallest and largest horses in the world. Currently a gelding called Radar is holding this record and stands 2.02 m tall and weighs 1090 kg. Brooklyn Supreme was also a Belgian Horse that stood 1.98 m and was the largest horse in the world weighting 1450 kg. Most common coat colors are light chestnut (sorrel), red roan, dun, brown, black, bay or gray.
In the past they were used as war horses and for farm work. Today, besides being great hard working animals as all draft horse, they gain popularity as riding draft horses. They are champions at the National Western Stock Show (a pulling contest) in Denver, Colorado showing great skills of pulling tremendous weight on certain distance. They are also used for pulling tourist wagons, in the forest industry, as show horses, pleasure horse and for meat. Pregnant Belgian mares produced urine for female hormone drugs.
At the Belgian foals a genetic disorder called Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (JEB) can occur and cause large loss of skin and other abnormalities, usually resulting with a painless death of the newborn foal. To avoid this disease, carriers are not allowed to mate. Other disease that occurs is the Chronic Progressive Lymphedema which has similar symptoms to the Chronic Lymphedema in humans with progressive swelling, limb fibrosis etc. The average lifespan of the Belgian horse is approximately 14 years.
Solve this horse puzzle of a strong, docile and hardworking horse breed with qualities of an easy keeper and a kind creature. They have influence on the Shire, Clydesdale, Suffolk and Flanders horses. Use you mouse to change places of the parts of the jigsaw. At the end you’ll see an image of the great Belgian horse.