Its origin is more than explicit, the Belgian draft horse comes from Belgium and is therefore a European breed, but what do we still know? For example that it is one of the largest horses that we can find around and that since ancient times it was used as a draft horse for tow objects of various types. How it's done? how's his personality? And what is it used for today? We find out immediately.
Belgian draft horse: origins
Also called Bramantino, the Belgian horse makes its first official appearance in the Middle Ages, with a different name though, namely horse of Flanders. We then find it also told in the following centuries, also for its role in the formation and development of other races. With the passing of time, this horse has been increasingly bred and considered and for this reason it has come to be defined three different types of specimens, depending on the breed. There was the small, raised above all in the north-western part of Belgium, then the medium, not very well known, and the "great Belgian" who is what we will end up talking about.
The official registration of the breed has taken place in 1886 and from that moment on we began to work with greater commitment to its improvement, coming to define a suitable standard to spread the breed all over the world.
Today we can say that the Belgian horse is born from the crossing of the English Shire, also known as "war horse", and the Ardennese horse, hence its nature as a draft animal. This mix of different characters and physical structures has given rise to a very resistant and robust horse, very dedicated to work, constant and docile.
Belgian draft horse: characteristics
The height at the withers can vary from 150 to 170 cm, we are therefore clearly dealing with a large animal. However, the head is small compared to the rest of the body and characterized by a square and wide jaw, a straight profile and a neck that connects it to the body with a slightly arched course. Eyes and ears are barely visible, the eye falls mainly on the musculature of the body which is considerable. The Belgian horse has very powerful legs as well as buttocks, which allow it to maintain a steady, regular and energetic step and a fair gait. The shins are shorter than those of other horses, but definitely more resistant.
As for the coat, there are more common colors like roan and bay but there may also be saurian specimens. In general it is a long and very thick coat, therefore suitable to withstand the cold and humid climate of its areas of origin. Even when it rains these horses manage to stay dry because only the upper layer of the coat gets wet and as if that were not enough during the winter the hair becomes even more "dense" to easily withstand temperatures that drop well below 0.
Belgian horse: character
As we mentioned earlier, we are dealing with an animal very determined and with a strong character, strong and resistant, able to withstand fatigue even in extreme situations. This characteristic should not lead us to think that it is a gruff horse because it has kind attitudes and is well disposed towards other horses and men. It is a horse intelligent and very active, courageous and obedient, but there is a but. He requires a lot of attention and immense dedication because he wants us to show him that we are important and loved.
Belgian draft horse: diseases and pathologies
Also because of health, this horse needs to be very well cared for, starting with the diet that must be regulated and regular, since it tends to have too much appetite. If he doesn't do heavy work he must be fed one hay dietif, on the other hand, you make a lot of effort during the day, for example with farm work, an additional diet of at least 2 kg per day is essential. In any case, the basic diet must be corrected by integrating vitamins and mineral salts.
Belgian draft horse: aptitudes
Courageous, strong and sturdy, and also resistant, in ancient times these animals were also highly appreciated for the hardness of their legs and therefore used to give rise to animals of big size, such as the Italian rapid heavy draft farm horse.
During the Middle Ages it was used to play you work in the fields given its constitution, but it was also used in battle, especially a war purposes.
Today we no longer need him much in the fields given the equipment that exists, but we can still find him in the forestry field, while he supports man and perfectly obeys his commands. Here, devoid of reins and equipped exclusively with a collar, they are used for move the logs and are called "Gamin" (gamine if females) by loggers. It is not so automatic to train a Belgian horse for this task, it takes several years but it is worth it. It is a custom not very widespread in Italy, it is more so in France, Germany, the Netherlands and obviously in Belgium itself.
You may also be interested in our related articles on the following horse breeds:
- Percheron horse
- Clydesdale horse
- Ardennese horse