The Belgian horse, known by other names including the Belgian Heavy Horse and the Brabançon, is a breed of draft horse that was developed in Belgium, in the Brabant region. It is thought to be a descendant of war horses known as destriers, although this cannot be proven. This breed was developed using a horse known as the Brabant, which was basically the same horse until the 1940’s, when it was bred to have a heavier build. The Belgian developed further in the United States, where it was bred into a lighter bodied, taller horse. Both of these horses were used primarily for farm work. This breed is now the most popular breed of draft horse in the United States.
The Belgian horse reaches a height between 16.2 and 17 hands and an average weight of just over 2,000 pounds. American Belgian horses are typically chestnut in color with golden manes and tails. This breed has a relatively small head and a well-muscled body and is able to pull thousands of pounds. This breed is used for competitions and farm work and in Belgium their meat is considered a delicacy.
The Belgian horse does produce foals with junctional epidermolysis bullosa, a disease that causes them to lose large portions of skin. Research is being conducted in order to find a cure for the disease, but currently the only measures protecting against it is a test of all Belgian horses in the United States, which can help breeders determine which horses are carriers.