Flanders was the breeding center for the European Great Horse and those from
this region are now known as Belgian Draft Horses. William the Conqueror brought the Great Horses when he invaded England
and they were mated to a horse that was left there previously by the Romans. Through selective breeding, this ultimately became
the Clydesdale. In France, the European Great Horses were crossed with lighter breeds to become the Percheron. On the continent,
the Flemish Great Horses became the Belgians who often exceed 2,200 pounds.
The word "draft" comes from a verb meaning "to pull." It also refers to the section of the horse
beneath the collar which bears most of the weight. Belgians are the heaviest and strongest of the modern draft breeds and
they carry their bulk well on very thick legs. While they compete well in the show ring, they are more successful than any
other breed in heavyweight pulling contests like our prize-winning Indy (left) pulling concrete blocks at the
Michigan State Championship in Hastings.