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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Belgian   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Belgian (also known as the 'American Belgian') is an American heavy draft horse breed, named after its ancestors who were Belgian Heavy Drafts (see the 'Brabant' breed). The breed was created in the US during the 20th century, and is thus a relatively new breed.

Belgian Heavy Drafts were imported from Belgium to the US in the beginning of the 20th century. The American farmers were happy with the strength of this European breed, but not with its looks. Therefore, they started a breeding program whose aim was to modify the build of the Belgian Heavy Drafts, while maintaining their other qualities. The result was a new breed, called the 'American Belgian' (or 'Belgian' for short), which became, and is still, one of the most popular draft breeds in the US.

Unlike their heavy and bulky ancestors, Belgian horses have a lighter build, longer legs, higher head position, and little to no feathering. In addition, they are significantly taller than most horse breeds, and today some of the tallest horses in the world are Belgians. None of these conformational changes affected the working ability of the breed, and many Belgian horses still work in farms and forests.

Belgian horses come primarily in the colors of chestnut and flaxen chestnut, and can have a roan coat as well. Bay color also exists in this breed, but is fairly rare. The minimal height of Belgians is 16hh, and many of them pass the 17hh and even the 18hh mark. The tallest Belgian in the world (as of 2020), Big Jake, stood 20.3hh.

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