The Belgian originated as a working horse in the lowlands of Belgium, and became sought after for warfare; often weighing well over 1600 pounds, the animal could easily carry armour-laden soldiers in the battlefield. These giant horses were known to the Romans, and Julius Caesar remarked on their endurance and willing nature. The Belgian government produced a National Stud Book in 1886, and the first Belgian arrived in Canada in 1902, coming to Quebec. The Canadian Belgian Draft Breeders’ Association was incorporated in 1907, and since then there have been over 37,000 registrations. Their name changed to the Canadian Belgian Horse Association in 1934. Registrations hit a low in the early 1950s but have since rebounded to mid-1930 levels mainly thanks to Amish and Mennonite communities that are recognized for their dedication to Belgians for farm use. In 2011 there were 827 members in the CBHA, 335 Belgians registered and 303 Belgians transferred between owners.
Originally bred for warfare, the Belgian`s steadfast nature and physical strength make it ideally suited as a workhorse. Photo: Robin Duncan Photography