Belgian horse, one of the largest breeds of draft horses of pure European descent. It has a long history, antedating the Christian era, but became especially popular during the Middle Ages. In the 15th and 16th cent. the breed was exported from Belgium to many European countries and became popular as a general working horse. It was not imported to the United States until the 1800s and it was slow to gain favor there because of its ungainly appearance. The breed is characterized by a husky, barrellike appearance and brute strength. It is generally sorrel or chestnut in color, stands just under 17 hands (68 in./170 cm) and weighs over 2,000 pounds (900 kg).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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