In Belgium, fishermen continue a long-lived tradition today: shrimp fishing from the backs of powerful draft horses.
Shrimp fishing from horseback? Yes, it's a tradition that is still followed today. Fishermen in Oostduinkerke, Belgium rely on their draft horses to pull fishing nets along the shore, netting shrimp as they go. The practice has been handed down from generation to generation and plays a central role in the region's two-day shrimp festival.
This video gives us a look into this unique tradition. Take a look at how incredibly powerful the draft horses are. They need to be able to carry a rider in addition to pulling the weight of a large net against the running water. With their broad hooves and powerful muscling, draft horses are clearly the right choice for the shrimp fishing job.
Draft horses have played significant roles in farming and agriculture all over the world. Although they are used less often today, and seeing draft horses assisting in shrimp fishing is increasingly rare, draft horses remain working horses in many locations.
Draft horses are often used in logging operations. They have many advantages over using machinery, since they aren't as bulky and can easily travel into the forest to access small, tight locations. Additionally, draft horses do not churn up and damage the land like heavy machinery does, making them the only option in many cases.
You'll also find dedicated farmers who continue to use draft horses on their farms. These powerful horses can plow fields, pull wagons, and assist with general chores. They're highly helpful in maple sugaring operations, since they can pull heavy weights without damaging the trees and terrain.
Finally, think of all of the horse-drawn carriages that you've seen. Drafts make popular options for pulling heavy carriages, and seeing a team of draft horses coming down the street is a wonderful reminder of how these horses have helped to shape our lives.