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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Belgian Warmblood (BWP)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Belgian Warmblood (also known as 'BWP') is a sport warmblood breed which excels in Olympic equestrian disciplines. This breed should not be confused with the Belgian Sport Horse (Belgian Halfblood) which is a different breed.

In 1937, a Belgian priest named Canon De Mey decided to start an equestrian program for young rural riders. In this program, called Rural Cavalry, the riders participated in shows which included different forms of riding, and competed in dressage and jumping tournaments. The riders could ride only on horses that they owned, and therefore, in order to win, the riders had to breed their own sport horses.

Breeding of rural sport horses was done by crossing Brabant (Belgian Heavy Draft) mares with either Thoroughbred stallions, or stallions of trotting breeds. The resulting horses worked on the farms during the week, and served as sport horses during the tournaments. Unfortunately, the performance of these multi-purpose horses wasn't as good as the performance of other European sport warmbloods in sport disciplines, and therefore the Belgian authorities refused to approve an official breeding program for these horses.

In 1955, the Belgian authorities decided to approve an official breeding program for these rural sport horses. First, an official studbook was established under the National Breeding Association of the Belgian Warmblood Horse. Next, European sport warmbloods were imported from Gelderland, Normandy, and Hannover, and were crossed with native Belgian mares. This open-studbook policy, which allows crossbreeding Belgian Warmblood horses with other European sport warmblood breeds, is still in place today.

After decades of careful breeding, the Belgian breeders managed to create an athletic horse that excels in dressage, show-jumping, and eventing. Today, the Belgian Warmblood is ranked as one of the best breeds in the world in all of these three disciplines.

Belgian Warmbloods come primarily in the colors of bay, brown, and chestnut, but other colors such as black, grey, roan and cream-diluted can be found as well. They stand between 16hh and 17.1hh.


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