Belgian Draft breed information
Belgian Draft horse general information
COLORSorrel and roan colors are most common in the modern Belgian breed of horse. Chestnut, red roan, dun, brown, or gray are other variations of color.
SIZE16.2 to 18 hands
WEIGHT1,800 to 2,200 pounds (815-1000kg)
LIFE EXPECTANCYLife expectancy is between 20-25 years
ORIGINThe Belgian Draft Horse is descended from the war horse of the Middle Ages. Its location of origin is Brabant, in what is now Belgium. Belgians, as the breed is known in America, differ slightly from its European ancestor the Brabant.
USESToday's Belgian is a big, powerful fellow that retains the drafty middle, a deep, strong foot, a lot of bone, the heavy muscling and amiable disposition possessed by the early Belgians. His qualities as an easy keeper, a good shipper are intact.
Belgians are often used as working animals, but have also become popular as show horses, gaming horses, and even as trail riding horses.
TEMPRERAMENTEasy to handle and kind temperament.
Belgian Draft description
The body is compact with a short, wide back and powerful loins. The quarters are massive, with a characteristic "double muscling" over the croup. The gaskins are heavily muscled and the legs are short and strong. The hooves are medium sized, for a draft horse, with only limited "feathering".
The Belgian is known for it's kind temperament and is easy to handle. They are still used for all manner of draft work, including plowing, logging, pulling carriages, hitches and sleighs. In addition, the riding of draft horses is becoming increasingly popular.
Belgian Draft history
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.
Belgian Draft health and genetic issues
Azoturia, also known as Monday Morning Disease, is a metabolic disorder common in draft horses.
Shivers, or shivering is a neuromuscular condition found most prevalently in draft horses and draft crosses. It is easy to diagnose due to the unique symptoms. The symptoms are sudden jerking or trembling of the hindquarters, in which the leg flexes toward the horse’s belly and the tail lifts and trembles in a pumping motion while the horse is backing. The horse cannot back up because the hind legs get stuck in an upward, flexed position.
Grease heel, or scratches, also called mud fever, is a type of dermatitis on the back of the pastern. This is a less serious disease that the other ones mentioned, but can be persistent with draft horse breeds that have a lot of feathering.
Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa (Epitheliogenesis Imperfecto)
Belgian Draft fun facts
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 first Belgian was imported to America by Dr. A. G. Van Hoorebeck of Illinois in 1866. The Belgian is the most popular work horse in America.
Information for Belgian Draft contributed by
Many thanks to Geraldine Colenbrander Vaccaro for providing us with these beautiful photos