Belgian Draft steeds are equine powerhouses who pull farm wagons, skid logs and also give snowy sleigh rides in maple sugarbushes.

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Their sled tote twenty passenger on a circuitous route about the snowy bush. The load of the riders is inconsequential as soon as the Belgians space in harness! Young civilization who display special interest and also ask smart questions are usually permitted to feeding the team a tiny snack (a fifty percent carrot each) in between rides.

The huge Belgian Draft horses that pull wagons and sleighs because that these and other festival-goers are likely descended from equines imported from Europe a century earlier. The first shipment the purebred Belgian Draft equines arrived just after the us Civil War. For background buffs, that means that any type of Belgians girlfriend spy in duration reenactments or Civil battle movies are out that place; the a recorded truth that the very first of the breed to be imported to the United states in 1866 (one year ~ the battle ended) by Dr. A.G. Van Hoorebeke from Monmouth, Illinois. The Belgian Draft equine Corporation of America wasn’t created until 1887.

Origins that the Belgian breeze Horse

There are basically two acts to the Belgian Draft horse origin story. The very first part happened in middle ages Europe, in the Netherlands or what us now contact Belgium, and also the second phase developed after the horses pertained to America in the mid-1800s.

To begin the story, it’s believed that Belgians are the straight lineal progeny of the “Great Horse” of the center ages. The lowlands area of western Europe offered rise come the big black Flemish equines that was described by medieval writers. By the mid-1700s, these equines were favoured for mounted warfare and for pulling hefty wagons, and also they were assumed to have detailed the hereditary material native which many modern draft breeds later on developed.

Brabants, another heavy steed breed from Belgium, were additionally one the the starting influences that the Belgian horse. Other western European hefty draft equine breeds had the Suffolk Punch, Clydesdale and also Shire. The Belgian and also Brabant have actually been gene isolated from one another for almost a century as breeders sought a various style that horse.

The Ardennes equine from the forested hills along the modern Franco-Belgian border is another source which likely added to the creation of the europe Belgian. This horse was initially a short (about 13.2 h), stout, hairy pony, but about 740 A.D. That is is believed that it was crossed through the Barb horse to develop a slightly higher horse much better suited to farming work.


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Brooklyn “Brookie” can be fried (April 12, 1928 – September 6, 1948) to be a red roan Belgian stallion noted for his extreme size. Brookie might be the human being record holder for biggest (but no tallest) horse, and also he was designated the world’s most heavy horse. He stood 19.2 hands (198 centimeter (6ft, 6in)) tall and also weighed 3,200 lbs (1,451 kg). His horseshoes required 30 inch lengths (76 cm) that iron. One of his great-grandfathers was another famous horse, Farceur 7332. For much of his life, Brooklyn can be fried was own by Charles Grant good and Ralph M. Fogleman that Iowa who exhibited the horse around the USA, charging spectators a dime to view the animal.


In America, the 2nd phase in the advancement of the Belgian Draft equine breed occurred. The Belgian Draft equine Corporation the America was officially established in February of 1887 in Wabash, Indiana, and also the breed registry workplaces are tho in that city today. In 1903 the federal government of Belgium sent out an exhibition of horses to the St. Louis world Fair and the international Livestock Exposition in Chicago, which created a lot of interest in the breed.

The outbreak of people War i in 1914 in Europe effectively halted the income of horses and American Belgian breeders were left on their own. Smart horsemen sought the right kind of mates for their horses and gradually began to develop their own format of Belgian.


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Bob Langrish photo


The post-war depression in farming further slowed horse imports come America, but by 1925 things were relocating again and also in 1937, the golden Anniversary the the Belgian Draft equine Association, over there were end 3,000 brand-new purebred horses registered.

The last significant import the Belgian Draft horses from Europe went to E. F. Dygert, one Iowa importer, through brand-new York ~ above January 15, 1940, four months after human being War II had started and four months before the German invasion of Belgium. Indigenous that point forward the American bloodstock matured on its own into the equines we view today.

After the war, a variety of factors diminished the need for heavy horses. The labour shortage of people War II, the arrival of small, rubber-tired row-crop tractors, and also the tremendous push for mechanization in the wake up of world War II placed all draft breeds under major pressure. Yet Belgians bounced back in the ’60s and also ’70s and also now they’re well ranked amongst the world most famous horse breeds.

How large are Belgian horses?

The Belgian horse’s average height is between 16 and 17 hands high (1.62 to 1.72 meters), and they weigh roughly 900 kilograms or between 1,800 to 2,200 pounds.

Belgians are frequently chestnut, red sorrel, bay or roan. The most desirable colour is chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. These equines have relatively small, well-shaped heads, sloping shoulders, and also strong, vast backs. They are well-muscled transparent the body and also legs, and also have big, solid hooves. Yet regardless of their size, they’re fairly easy keepers.

Are Belgians bigger than Clydesdales?

Yes and also no. Belgian horses are larger-bodied, but shorter than Clydesdales. A Belgian horse’s average height is between 16 and 17 hands tall (1.62 to 1.72 meters), and they weigh roughly 900 kilograms, or in between 1,800 to 2,200 pounds. Clydesdales have tendency to be roughly 18 hands and also they’re a hundred kilos (220 lbs) lighter. The many notable difference in between the two breeds, as well as their colouring, is your legs and feet. Clydsdales have enormous hooves and shaggy legs with white hair called feathering. The Belgian breeze Horse additionally has large feet, however they’re smaller than the Clydesdale’s and also they have much less feathering on your legs.

Are Belgians the tallest equines in the world?

Not necessarily. While that true that large Jake, a chestnut Belgian gelding, was detailed for his extreme height and was official the world Tallest Horse, he was the exception. Large Jake to be measured through Guinness civilization Records in 2010 and also at the time he stood in ~ 20.3 hands (210.2 cm (6 ft 10-3/4 in) tall and also weighed in in ~ 1,133 kg or about 2,600 pounds. Huge Jake to be born in Nebraska, and also lived at Smokey hollow Farm close to Poynette, Wisconsin, prior to his death in 2021 in ~ the age of 20. He continues to be an exception, however, together it’s generally welcomed that Shires space the tallest breed, averaging 17-19 hands and weighing 1,800-2,400 pounds.

How lengthy do Belgian steeds live?

Belgians usually live for about eighteen years. Most hefty draft breeds have a expectation of about eighteen years, and this is continuous with Belgians and also Brabants. Part Belgian equines live right into their twenties, however this is rare.

What space Belgian Draft equines used for?


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Belgian draft Horses, Bob Langrish photo


Belgians are amongst the strongest horses in the world and also they’re sought the end for your strength. They have the right to pull really hefty weights and yet they’re kind, gentle and also known for being really straightforward to handle. They are still provided for all manner of draft work and also that consists of plowing, pulling carriages and giving sleigh rides at Christmas and also during the sugaring in maple syrup country. Belgians are specifically sought after because that logging as this is one place where there are no roads and also horses are better than makers at skidding logs in the bush.

Additionally, it must be listed how the riding of draft equines is coming to be increasingly popular, in a range of disciplines from western to jumping. Belgians can certainly be ridden, and some room first-rate trail riding horses. Belgians and also Belgian the cross are typically used at commercial follow riding facilities, yet riders need to not expect a smooth ride.

Are Belgian horses an excellent for beginners?

Selecting a Belgian steed for a new rider would certainly be one unusual choice due come the horse’s size and also strength, yet it’s not unusual as the breed is so popular. As result of their superb temperament, these horses do often come to be school horses for beginners. They space gentle in hand and under saddle and owners will tell you they’re lover for your intelligence. The tenderness giants are well-known for being quiet and also docile and also yet more than willing to please when tasked v a job they understand. Castle hard-working pets that room loyal, basic to handle, and friendly to their human being companions.

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What wellness issues difficulty Belgian draft Horses?

Belgian breeze Horses have actually a high incident of Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (JEB), one inherited genetic disorder that causes newborn foals to lose huge areas that skin. There is no happy ending with this disease; in most cases, the suffering pet must it is in euthanized. A study study published in 2004 uncovered that 17.1% of tested Belgians in the US and Canada were carriers, consisting of 13.5% the stallions and 28.9% of mares. Genetic testing of all breeding stock and avoiding interbreeding of carriers is encourage to avoid the incidence of JEB. Scientists are researching the disease further in the really hopes of totally eliminating it from the population.

For an ext information, visit:Canadian Belgian equine AssociationBelgian Draft equine Corporation that America