The Belgian Breed

Belgian Breed Description

Height 16.2 to 17 hands high
Colour Colours include bay, dun, gray, sorrel, chestnut, and red roan with black points.
Head and Neck The head is plain and square, and rather small in proportion to the body, and the expression is kind and intelligent. The neck is short, thick and powerful.
Shoulders The shoulders are massive and ideally suited for a draft horse.
Body The Belgian is thick set and compact, with very strong, short back and loins. It is deep-girthed and very powerful.
Hindquarters The hindquarters are huge and powerful, and distinctively rounded. The croup is double-muscled.
Limbs The Belgian is renowned for the tremendous strength and hardness of its short, sound limbs. There is a fair amount of feather.
Hooves The hooves are of medium size and are well-formed.

Belgian Breed History

The Belgian Draft Horse is sometimes known as the Brabant, a name which is derived from one of the principal breeding areas of this breed of heavy horse. The Belgian is an ancient breed, and is likely to be descended from the primitive European Forest Horse. These giant horses were known to the Romans, and Julius Caesar remarked on their endurance and willing nature.

In the Middle Ages, the Belgian was called the Flanders Horse, and influenced the development of the English Great Horse, and later the Shire. The Clydesdale and the Suffolk Punch breeds were also based on the Flanders Horse.

Breeders of heavy horses in Belgium produced outstanding stock by sticking to a policy of strict selection. Over 100 years ago, three distinct lines of heavy horse had been produced. There were very minor variations in conformation between them. One line was that of the famed stallion Orange I, and consisted of bay coloured horses only. This line was known as the Gros de la Dendre line. The second line was founded by the stallion Bayard, and they were predominantly sorrels and red roans. His line was known as the Gris du Hainaut. Jean I, a bay stallion, founded the third line, known as the Colosses de la Mehaique. The horses of all three lines came to be known for their gentle nature and tremendous pulling power.

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