Flemish Horses are elegant workhorses with an average height of approximately 1.75m to 1.90m over the mares and the stallions. They are usually chestnut with white manes and soon reach a weight ranging from 850 to over 1000 kg. Furthermore, the horses have little or no feathering on the legs and they have smooth and elegant hallways. Despite their large stature and weight they have a golden character; the horses are docile and very patient.
The Flemish Horse has again become very popular among cold blood and draft horse amateurs in Belgium and are slowly being exported to the neighboring and other European countries where they are still fairly unknown.
The Shire horse has a powerful and muscular build, a dense rounded body, a broad back, strong loins, powerful hind-quarters and long legs with dense bones. Shire horses can be black, bay or grey. The legs should have white stockings or socks. The head should be long and lean with a Roman nose and widely-spaced eyes. The breed standard specifies that the eyes should be docile in expression. The neck should be long and lean, with an arch. This leads to a short, muscular back, with no pronounced dipping or roaching.
This horse breed has been refined over the centuries to have a very even temperament. Shire horses are incredibly patient and they are willing to stand for extended periods of time in harness while people make deliveries and load carts. It takes a lot to upset a Shire horse. These horses can work in a wide variety of situations and they are not easily startled. They are also gentle and calm enough to be handled by very young riders and drivers.
BELGIAN DRAFT HORSE
The Brabant draft horse is the foundation horse for the American Belgian (also ‘Flemish Horse’). Until about 1940, the Brabant and the Flemish Horse were essentially the same horse. After World War II the Brabant was bred in Europe to be thicker bodied and more drafty, with heavy feathering on the legs, while in the United States the Flemish Horse was bred to be taller, lighter bodied and clean legged.
Standing between 160 and 175 cm in height the huge powerful quarter are distinctively rounded and the croup is double muscled. Mature stallions weight 860 to 1000 kg or more. The Belgian Draft Horse is noted for its solid draft horse characteristics, being the widest, deepest , most compact, most massive, and lowest set of any draft breed, with short but very strong legs, with feathering. The action is powerful though less springy and high than is found in the Clydesdale and Percheron. Because of their great width in front, many Belgians roll or paddle somewhat.
The expression in the eye is intelligent and kind, with a head small in proportion to the body and somewhat square and plain. Colors vary from line to line, but sorrels and bay are more plentiful, although there are certainly chestnuts, duns, greys and red roans with black points.
The Belgian Draft Horse is extremely quiet, docile and patient. Although not fulfilling their important role as a farm horse or performing all the jobs they once did, the breed is valued in shows around the world, in parades and at local horse pulling contests. They are also cross bred to produce sport horses and riding horses. The Gentle Giants from Belgium remain dear to the hearts of man.
The Friesian is most often recognized by its black coat color, though color alone is not their only distinguishing characteristic. Friesian horses also have a long, thick mane and tail, often wavy, and "feathers"--long, silky hair on the lower legs, deliberately left untrimmed. The Friesian's average height is about 1.60 m, although it may vary from 1.5 m and 1.7m tall at the withers and mares or geldings must be at least 1.57 m tall to qualify for a 'star-designation' pedigree. The breed is known for a brisk, high-stepping trot. The Friesian is considered a willing, active, and energetic horse that is also gentle and docile. A Friesian tends to have great presence and to carry itself with elegance.
The breed has powerful overall conformation and good bone structure, with what is sometimes called a "Baroque" body type. Their limbs are comparatively short and strong. Today, there are two distinct conformation types. The baroque type has the more robust build of the classical Friesian. The modern, sport horse type is finer-boned. Conformation type is judged less important than correct movement, and both types are common.
The paces of the Boulonnais horse are active and agile. The Boulonnais horse is very elegant, which is why people call it "the thoroughbred horse among draught horses". An excellent draft animal, the Boulonnais horse is energetic, easy, active and very gentle in nature.
The head of the Boulonnais horse is very distinctive, showing clearly the influence of oriental out-crosses, with a straight profile, prominent eye sockets, and open and lean jowl and a flat wide forehead. The eye is usually larger; nostrils are open and the ears are very small and erect.
Combined with the expression of elegance, the whole outline gives the appearance of majesty. The breed has stamina and can maintain a stead speed over a long period of time and distance.
The Boulonnais horse stands from 1.55 to 1.65 meters in height and the coat color is most often gray in all its shades, but there are occasionally bays and chestnuts, which once upon a time were much sought after. All foals are born bay. This coat may then turn to grey with all its shades.
Percheron are noted for heavy muscling and for an aspect of ruggedness and power. Another characteristic of the Percheron is clean action and quality conformation of the feet and legs. The breed is close coupled, wide and deep through the chest with plenty of back rib. The Percheron head and neck is typical of the correct draft horse. Good Percherons have a large and full prominent eye, a broad and full forehead and a straight face. A wide jaw and refined ears attractively set and carried with animation are visible evidence of the Percheron's Arabian ancestry. The neck is well-shaped and powerful. Percherons range in height from 1,.50 to 1.80 meters high. They can weigh up to 1,200 kg with the average around 860 kg.
Percherons are generally black or gray. Some Percherons have white markings on the head and feet. The Percheron is expected to be of good temperament and be an easy keeper. The breed is reputed to be proud, alert and intelligent. They are generally very gentle horses, well-suited for driving and are strong and willing workers. The Percheron is readily adapted to varying climates and conditions. They have the strength to pull heavy loads and the graceful style to pull a fine carriage. Percherons can be ridden and some have even been trained to jump.
The Comtois is a lightly built draft horse. The head is large with alert eyes and small ears. A straight neck joins the body, which is stocky and powerful with a deep girt. The back is long and straight. The Comtois has short, strong legs with little feather and muscular hindquarters. The main and tail are both thick. They are found in varying shades of chestnut often deepening to a dark chocolate brown or bay. The mane and tail are by contrast a light flaxen. They usually stand between 140 -150 cm high and weigh 500 to 600 kg, although mature stallions can reach up to 800 kg.
Comtois are hardy and live to an old age. They are good-natured, easy to train and hard working.
The Freiberger, also known as Franches-Montagnes, is a horse breed from Switzerland, from the Jura region, described as either a "heavy warmblood" or a "light coldblood". It was widely used as draft and pack horse in the Swiss army. It has a good disposition and is versatile, suitable for both driving and riding. Each year at the Marché Concours in Saignelégier in the Franches-Montagnes district of the Swiss canton of Jura, on the second weekend in August, a variety of shows and competitions are held.
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