The Belgian is a horse that is also known as the Belgian Draft and the Belgian Heavy Horse, the Brabant or the Brabançon. This horse is a draft horse breed from the Brabant region of modern Belgium, where it is known as the Cheval de trait belge or Flemish: Belgisch Trekpaard and the Belgian really is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds.
The Belgian is usually a chestnut color that is lighter in shade and sometimes known as a ‘sorrel’. They tend to have a flaxen mane and tail and on average they can grow to weigh just over 900 kilograms.
After a study was carried out over three years from 2001 to 2003, scientists discovered that 17.1% of tested Belgians in the US and Canada were carriers of the genetic disorder junctional epidermolysis bullosa (JEB). This disorder causes newborn foals to lose large areas of skin and have other abnormalities which usually result in euthanasia. If carriers are not mated, JEB can be avoided, and scientists are studying the disease further in the hope of completely eliminating it.
The world’s largest horse was a Belgian Draft that was called Brooklyn Supreme. He weighed a mighty 3,200 lbs and stood at a whopping 19.2 hands.
Belgian horses are known for being able to pull tremendous weights and for that reason they are being used today as working animals. They have, however, also become popular as show horses and pleasure riding horses. The remaining Brabant and related breeds in Belgium today are also highly desired for their meat, as they produce a tender meat that is considered a delicacy.
Historically it has been deemed theoretically possible that the Belgian may have had ancestors who were destriers in the Middle Ages, although there is no independent evidence to support this claim. The foundation stock for the Belgian was originally known as the Brabant. After the Second World War the Brabant in Europe was bred, selectively, to be thicker bodied and heavier, whilst in the United States the Belgian was bred to be lighter and taller. Today, the Belgian is the most numerous breed of draft horse in the United States.