Growing up, the draft horses were always a favorite of mine. I loved that they were so huge, and yet so gentle. The Belgian Draft Horse is no exception, with his huge hooves, large body, and gentle spirit. While his looks may make him easy to recognize, here are 6 facts about the Belgian horse you probably never knew, including one about that signature chestnut coat.
#1 – Originally from Belgium, Developed in America
The “American” Belgian Draft Horse was developed in America by three men who started the Wabash Importing Company in Wasbash, Indiana. They, along with their lawyer, organized the American Association of Importers and Breeders of Belgian Draft Horses in 1937. (Now known as the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America).
#2 – Developed from Brabants
The Belgian Brabant is the breed from which the American Belgian Draft was developed from. Today, the “old-style” or Brabant is rare in the United States, though still popular in Europe. The American Belgian is leggier, has more slope to his shoulder, and less feathering than the Brabant. Below is an image of the Brabant breed today.
#3 – Most Popular Draft Breed in America
Despite the Budweiser Clydesdale's fame, the number of Belgian draft horses in the U.S. outnumber all other draft breeds, put together! Even Disneyland has quite a few Belgians on staff to pull their trolleys down Main Street U.S.A.
#4 – World Record Holders
There are two Belgian draft horses that hold Guinness World Records. Big Jake, who holds the record as the Tallest Living Horse at 20 hh, 2 3/4 inches tall, and Mcllrath’s Captain Jim, a 2-year-old Belgian stallion who has the World Record for being the Most Expensive Draught Horse Ever Purchased. He was sold at the Mid-America Draft Horse Sale in February 2003 for $112,500.
According to the International Museum of the Horse, the Belgian has direct linage to the “Great Horse” of medieval times. (This can’t be proven and so isn’t technically a “fact”, but it’s still a really fun legend about the breed!)
#6 – The Original Belgian was a Horse of Many Colors
Prior to the American development, Belgian Brabants came in many coat colors, with bay being the predominant color. As the breed gained popularity in America, however, the chestnut—sorrel with the flaxen mane and tail, a white blaze and four socks--became the “desired” color to have.
Have you ever met a Belgian draft horse? What did you think?