The Brabant is an extremely old breed
of horse which can be traced to the prehistoric horses of the alluvial
period and is likely to be related to the Ardennes. Also called
the Belgian or Belgium Heavy Draft Horse, the Brabant has influenced
many other breeds of draft horse. During the middle ages, the Brabant
was also known as Flanders Horse, and played a major role in the
development of the heavy English breeds - the Shire, Clydesdale,
and Suffolk Punch - and may have contributed toward the early Irish
Until the beginning of this century,
there were three different types, which were bloodline related.
The first was the Colossal Horse of Mahaigne, for which the stallion
Jean I was responsible; the second was the Big Horse of the Dendre,
which was founded by the stallion Orange I; and the last group was
the Grey Horse of Nivelles, which was based on the stock produced
y the stallion Bayard. The progeny of the great stallion Orange
I were noted for their success in the show ring during the 1800s.
By the 20th century, however, the three
groups had become indistinguishable. The studbook for the Brabant
in Belgium was started in 1855 by the Societe Royale Le Cheval de
Trait Belge, numbers since have dropped quite significantly in England.
They are, however, popular in America, and the American studbook
for the breed was started in 1887. The breed in America has changed
from the original Belgium Brabant, having become more refined and
more stylish. They are one of the heaviest draft horses and combine
their incredible strength with an extremely willing and generous
temperament, making them an ideal heavy work horse.
Typically, they have a small head
on a thick, muscular neck, huge powerful shoulders and quarters,
and short legs with a small amount of feathering around the fetlock.
Their stride is quite short and choppy, typical of the draft action,
but they do have a good walk. Before mechanization, the Brabant
was exported all over Europe and to America due to their excellent
pulling efficiency, but, since the end of the Second World War,
their numbers have declined, although they are still bred for the
meat industry. The Brabant is mostly chestnut or red roan in color,
and they can stand up to 17 hands high.
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