A heavy draft horse originally from the Brabant region of modern Belgium. It is one of the strongest of the heavy breeds.
“Look at that muscle! They’d pull a barn, if hitched to it.” -Farmer Boy, Chapter 21, “County Fair”
The Belgian originated in Belgium and are possibly the direct descendants of medieval horses. They are direct descendants of the “Black Horse of Flanders,” which dates prior to the reign of Julius Caesar. The first Belgian draft horses were imported to the United States in 1866 by Dr. A.G. Van Hoorebeke from Monmouth, Illinois. In 1887, “The Belgian Draft Horse Corporation of America” was formed. Around the turn of the century, their popularity grew, but declined after World War I as more grain was imported and draft horses were being replaced by machine-power.
Almanzo Wilder and his father see Belgian horses for the first time at the Franklin County Fair as told in Farmer Boy (see Chapter 21, “County Fair”), the story supposedly taking place in 1866. Mr. Wilder and Almanzo decide that such a large and strong draft horse is not needed on the Wilders’ farm.
The 1865 partial map of Europe identifies Belgium outlined in yellow. How does the 1865 map compare to one from more recent years?
Belgium (FB 21)
Belgian horse (FB 21)