Belgian Horse Characteristics – Everything You Need To Know!

Last Updated on April 12, 2022

Are you a fan of the beautiful Belgian horse? Let’s find out all about them with our Belgian horse characteristics review!

What Is A Belgian Horse?

The Belgian horse is a type of horse known as a draft horse – this is a breed that was traditionally used for farm work and hauling heavy loads. This breed, also known as the Trekpaard and the Brabant draft horse, is a gentle giant with a long and proud history.

They are now popular all around the world, and in the U.S they are sometimes referred to as the American Brabant. Although the Belgian draft horse is not so popular as a working horse nowadays, it has many fans and breeders who are focussed on keeping a healthy population of these impressive horses.

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Belgian Horse History – Belgian Horse Characteristics

The Belgian is a draft breed of horse that originated in the 17th century. It is thought that they are descended from the great battle horses of the Middle Ages – they must have been a formidable sight charging into battle! The modern-day Belgian horse is more likely to be used as a show animal, or for pulling heavy wagons and timber.

Although this horse breed has been around for many centuries, formal breeding did not begin until the 17th century. Before this time, they would have been bred for strength and stamina, without focussing on any specific breed traits.

In 1886 the Belgian horse studbook was founded, and since then the breeding of this magnificent horse has been closely monitored. They became popular around the world, particularly across Europe and in the US.

During the 1900s, the population of many horse breeds suffered due to two world wars, and the increasing popularity of the combustion engine. Horses were not needed for farm work and haulage any more, and some horse breeds almost became extinct.

Luckily, breeders and fans of the Belgian draft horse ensured its survival through this difficult period, and over the decades the population of this horse breed has stabilized. The Belgian draft horse is still popular around the world to this day, although it is more likely to be seen pulling a show wagon or hauling timber.

A Century of Belgian Horses in America

What Does A Belgian Horse Look Like?

Although all draft horses are tall and thick set, there is something that sets the Belgian draft horse apart from the crowd. Their body is highly muscled, with broad hindquarters and a wide chest. The back is relatively short, and they have a thick, crested neck.

The head of this breed is what really stands out to many people. Compared to other draft breeds, the head is small in proportion to the body, with a straight nose and wide, kind eye.

The coat of the Belgian horse is thick and smooth, with a long, flowing mane and tail. The tail is sometimes cut short, particularly in Belgian horses that do carriage driving. The feathers on the legs are long and flowing.

The mane is sometimes ‘hogged’ – cut short with clippers, and then allowed to grow upright. This enhances the magnificent crest of the neck of this impressive horse breed.

The coat of the Belgian horse is most commonly bay, but black and chestnuts are also found. Roan variations are relatively common, with bay roan, blue roan, and strawberry roan examples of this breed. Grey Belgian draft horses do occasionally occur, but they are very rare.

Belgian Horse Characteristics And Traits

There are many Belgian horse characteristics, and one of these is that they are renowned for their willingness to work. In the past, these strong and resilient horses would have put in a full day’s work alongside the men, every day. They were used for carriage driving, hauling wagons, pulling plows and sleds, and dragging heavy timber from dense forests. Many people still use Belgian horses for logging work to this day, as they seem to relish the challenge of pulling fallen trees from areas that no human or machine could manage.

Belgian Horse Characteristics And Traits

The Belgian draft horse is also brave and unflappable, proving time and again to be stoic in the face of unexpected events. However, this horse is not dull – they like to have fun, and can be very cheeky and playful! Luckily they seem to be aware of their great size, and seldom intentionally cause harm to anyone, whether human or equine.

Summary – Belgian Horse Characteristics

So, as we have learned in our review of Belgian horse characteristics, this is a draft breed of horse that originated in the 17th century. It is thought that they are descended from the great battle horses of the Middle Ages – you can certainly imagine this powerful animal carrying a knight in full metal armor! The modern-day Belgian horse is more likely to be used as a show animal, or for pulling heavy wagons and timber.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Belgian horse characteristics! Is this one of your favorite breeds of horse? Or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to train with one of these gentle giants? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


What Is The Belgian Horse Known For?

The Belgian draft horse is known for its incredible strength and stamina. These horses are large and muscular, capable of pulling and carrying a lot of weight. Centuries ago, they were used to carry soldiers into battle, and in more modern times they excelled as driving and logging horses.

What Is The Temperament Of A Belgian Horse?

The Belgian horse is calm, laid back, and not easily excited. This placid temperament makes this breed suitable for slow, steady work.

Are Belgian Horses Good For Beginners?

The temperament and steady gait of the Belgian horse makes them good for beginner riders, but their large size can be off-putting. Most beginners will learn to ride and handle horses that are smaller before moving onto a Belgian horse.

Are Belgian Horses Strong?

Belgian horses are one of the strongest horse breeds in the world. This is because of their tall height and powerful, muscular body structure. The Belgian horse can pull very heavy loads, such as tree trunks, with ease.