Belgian Draft Horses: Breed History & Overall Care

Posted by Crystal Long
Belgian Draft Horse nibbles hay during sunset.

Known for their docile and easy to handle qualities, Belgian Draft Horses are also one of the strongest heavy breeds. Here is the 411 on the Belgian.

Originally hailing from the Brabant region in Belgium, a country located in Western Europe, the Belgian Draft Horse has it all: immense power and strength, a great personality, and not to mention, dashingly good looks.

The modern "American Belgian Draft" we know and love today was developed from the now-extinct Flemish horse, a.k.a. the Flemish "Great Horse," a horse breed in the Middle Ages that was used as a warhorse to carry armored knights into battle. The Belgian horse is also accredited to be descended from Belgian Brabant horses, but this might be because the Flemish horse was eventually merged with the Brabant horse breed in the nineteenth century, causing them to be extinct.

Nevertheless, the Belgian draft breed today certainly possesses some of the extraordinary qualities that the Flemish "Great Horse" had: the Belgian breed is one of the strongest heavy draft breeds there is nowadays.

Characteristics and Overall Appearance

Loved for their docile, kind, and willing to please attitude, the Belgian is considered the most popular draft horse breed in the United States -- comparable to the Clydesdale horse, made famous by none other than the Budweiser Clydesdales!

Sturdy, compact, and strong, the Belgian horse has thick muscles, a heavy body, and short yet very powerful legs. They can weigh between 1,800 to 2,200 pounds and stand between 16 to 17 hands (or 64 to 68 inches) on average. Belgian draft horses come in several colors--while most American Belgians are a light chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, Belgians can come in bay, black/gray, chestnut, sorrel, and roan colors.

Like the Shire horse and the Clydesdale horse, the Belgian also has some feathering around the legs and hooves.

Belgian Horse Care

Bred to be workhorses, the Belgian is a strong and large draft horse -- and yes, as you might have guessed already, a large horse will inevitably come with some special considerations when it comes to care. Other than feeding them more than regular-size horses, be sure to give them lots of exercise to prevent health issues. According to Hello Homestead, there are a few diseases any draft horse owner should be aware of:

"Among the more common condition affecting draft horses is Equine Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy -- or EPSM."

Grooming is another important part when it comes to caring for a Belgian horse. This is a horse breed that needs to be groomed regularly and frequently. Other than making sure their beautiful mane and tail plus the feathering around the feet is maintained and free of tangles, be sure to also pay special attention to their hooves: keeping them trimmed and cleaned regularly.

Visit the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America for more information on the Belgian Draft Horse. Founded in 1887 as the 'American Association of Importers' and 'Breeders of Belgian Draft Horses' in Wabash, Indiana, the organization registers all Belgians in the United States.

Do you have a Belgian Draft horse? Share with us on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page!

READ MORE: 20 Most Popular Horse Breeds Around the World

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Belgian Draft Horses: Breed History & Overall Care