Brabant itself is very old and steeped in military tradition. The red and white checkerboard flag is quintessential European medieval heraldry; ancient and revered this symbol is still visible in equestrian sport today. At one time these people and their heavy horses dominated medieval battlefields. The Landgraviate of Brabant (1085–1183) was a small medieval fiefdom west of Brussels, consisting of the area between the Dender and Zenne rivers in the Low Countries, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. It was raised to a Duchy and finally to a Province in the 1830’s before being split in half in 1996 along language lines.
Brabant horses carried the heavily-armoured riders during medieval times and throughout history. Their stocky breed became sought after as artillery and draft horses. The studbook organization was founded in 1886, which some historians some would argue was long-past the end of their reign as war horses.
Following World War II, the European Brabant was selectively bred to be a heavier, thicker-bodied horse than its American counterpart. With the mechanization of farming, there was no need for big draft animals and many were bred just for meat, which is part of the local diet. Lucky for us, a number of passionate breeders kept this draft breed alive by giving them work. Today with increased tourism and special subsidies there are Belgians who still use the horses for farm work, logging and fishing. The Belgian government views these animals as central to their nation’s culture, and as such has formed an organization that works diligently to preserve this beautiful breed.
The Brabant horse is square-headed with a straight profile. These horses have pricked ears and gentle expressions. They have short but strong necks, with deep, wide chests, and well-muscled backs. Similarly, the Brabant Horse’s legs are also muscular. Their hooves are tough, round, and large.
Brabants typically stands anywhere between 16.1-17 hands. They can found in a variety of colours including chestnut, bay, black, dun, bay roan, blue roan and red roan.
The Brabant is gentle, lively, tough and brave, but also sensible. They are incredibly accommodating and obedient animals, making them hard workers.
Brabant horses can be found all around the world and are widely used for agriculture, logging, pulling sleighs and wagons, plowing and being shown in-hand and under saddle. They are also famously used for shrimp fishing READ The Shrimp Fishing Horses of Belgium on Horse Canada.
For more information about the Brabant, visit:
theamericanbrabantassociation.net (American Brabant Association)