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Home > Horses > 8 Belgian Horse Breeds: History, Facts & Pictures

8 Belgian Horse Breeds: History, Facts & Pictures

Ardennais or Ardennes

Belgium is a beautiful country well-known for its dazzling landscapes and exquisite delicacies. But did you know that the country has its fair share of horse breeds? Many stunning horses are native to Belgium, but their popularity extends past its borders.

Whether you are an equestrian expert or a casual horse fan, read on for a list of eight Belgian horse breeds. We look at the breeds’ history and other related facts to give you a detailed snapshot of each remarkable horse.


The 8 Belgian Horse Breeds

1. Belgian Trotter

Belgian trotting
Belgian trotting (Image Credit: agriflanders, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
  • Origin: Belgium, with French, German, and American influences
  • Lifespan: 14.2–15 hands
  • Height: Bay or chestnut
  • Temperament: Mild yet alert

The Belgian Trotter originates from Belgium, but they have strong influences from French, German, and American breeds. The horse was developed by crossing domestic Carriage and Saddle horses with imported Thoroughbreds. Due to their breeding history, the Belgian Trotter is also known as the Half-Blood Trotter.

They were bred for racing and having muscular frames. Typically, the Belgian Trotter has an attentive yet relaxed temperament and can be found in either chestnut or bay colors. They are often put to work in sulky-pulling and saddle-trotting races.

2. Belgian Sport Horse

Belgian Sport Horse
Belgian Sport Horse (Image Credit: Fernando Frazão, Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0 BR)
  • Origin: Belgium, with French influences
  • Lifespan: 16 hands
  • Height: Chestnut, bay, brown, black, gray
  • Temperament: Gentle, relaxed, and focused

The Belgian Sport horse, also referred to as the Belgian Half-Blood, was established in Belgium for sporting competitions. While they are a Belgian breed, they also have a French influence. The main breeds crossed to create the Belgian Sport Horse were the Belgian Draft, the Thoroughbred, and the Selle Francais.

In the past, the Belgian Sport was put to work in the army. As a result, the horse is full of energy and is highly athletic. At the same time, they have a gentle and relaxed temperament that horse owners admire.

3. Belgian Draft

Belgian Draft Horse grazing
Image Credit: OlesyaNickolaeva, Shutterstock
  • Origin: The Brabant region in Belgium
  • Lifespan: 16.2–17 hands
  • Height: Chestnut
  • Temperament: Steadfast and calm

The Belgian Draft is a heavy horse from the Brabant region in Belgium. Some believe that the Belgian Draft is a descendant of the Destriers, the war horses used in medieval times. However, there is no tangible evidence to support this theory.

Regardless of their heritage, the horse is massive, standing at as many as 17 hands. Due to their significant size, this breed is renowned for their imposing presence. In fact, one of the largest horses in the world is a Belgian Draft that stands at over 20 hands!

Despite their magnificent size, the Belgian Draft is known for being steadfast and calm. Today, they are often used as working animals or as riding horses.

4. Belgian Warmblood

Belgian warmblood purebred horse
Image Credit: Lucia L, Shutterstock
  • Origin: Belgium, with influences from the Netherlands and France
  • Lifespan: 15.1–17 hands
  • Height: Chestnut, bay, brown, black, and gray
  • Temperament: Energetic, agreeable, and feisty

Belgian Warmbloods got their start in Belgium in the 1950s, when the breeders in the country were finally allowed to breed lighter horses with the Belgian Draft. When the Belgian Draft was crossed with jumping horses native to the Netherlands and France, the Belgian Warmblood breed was born.

The breed was developed for confirmation and performance in jumping and dressage shows. They typically have good paces and an agreeable disposition. Although the Belgian Warmblood is friendly and lively, they can also be a bit feisty.

5. Zangersheide

Zangersheide brand
Zangersheide brand (Image Credit: Just chaos, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
  • Origin: Province of Limburg in eastern Flanders
  • Lifespan: 16 – 17 hands
  • Height: Chestnut, bay, gray and black
  • Temperament: Tolerant, agreeable, and gentle

The Zangersheide horse is sometimes affectionately referred to as the Zang horse. They are relatively new and hail from the province of Limburg in eastern Flanders. They were created to be a competitive showjumping horse, and their temperament is patient and friendly.

They are solid horses, standing around 17 hands tall, yet their appearance is undeniably elegant. The Zangersheide is athletic and has made their mark by winning show jumping competitions at the Olympics.

6. Ardennais

Image Credit: MichaelGaida, Pixabay
  • Origin: Ardennes region in Belgium,  Luxembourg, and France
  • Lifespan: 16 hands
  • Height: Bay, gray, and brown
  • Temperament: Friendly, calm, and focused

The Ardennais breed was founded in the Ardennes region in Belgium, where they got their name. They also have origins in Luxembourg and France. The Ardennais is among the oldest breeds of draft horses, with a history that stretches all the way back to Ancient Roman times.

In Ancient Rome, the Ardennais was used as a war horse. It is believed that the Ardennais’ ancestry is a prehistoric horse called the Solutre, which may have been bred for more than 2,000 years across the Ardennes area.

7. Belgian Riding Pony

  • Origin: Belgium
  • Lifespan: 13–14.2 hands
  • Height: Chestnut, brown, and black
  • Temperament: Spirited and good-tempered

The Belgian Riding Pony is a product of crossing different Belgian breeds to create a spirited, good-tempered pony. This petite horse stands at a mere 13–14.2 hands and is the smallest breed on this list. Although diminutive, the Belgian Riding Pony has excelled in jumping, dressage, and endurance riding.

Since they are small ponies, they are ideal for children to ride on. However, the Belgian Riding Pony can be feisty at times, so it is recommended that riders have experience with mounting and riding horses.

8. Flemish Horse

Flemish horse in the grass
Image Credit: Erwin Bosman, Shutterstock
  • Origin: Belgium, but the breed resurfaced in the United States
  • Size: 17 hands
  • Colors: Chestnut
  • Temperament: Steady and agreeable

The Flemish Horse is an extinct horse breed. The breed became extinct in the 19th century, when they were crossed with other species to develop the Belgian Draft. However, some Amish populations in the United States maintained a small stock of the Flemish Horse, causing a small revival of the breed in the early 1990s.

In terms of temperament, the Flemish Horse is incredibly agreeable. They are a steadfast companion that is eager to work and please their owners. In addition, the breed is massive and weighs as much as 2,200 pounds.

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Belgium is full of beautiful things, including remarkable horse breeds. While all these breeds have a common country of origin, they have unique histories that molded them into the horses that they are today.

We hope that this article has helped you learn more about the amazing horses in the country of Belgium.

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Featured Image Credit: danielsfotowelt, Pixabay

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