Are Belgian Horses Bigger Than Clydesdales?

Is a Belgian Horse bigger than Clydesdales?

It’s a common question within the horse owner community. 

I’m going to dive deep into this topic and provide a definitive answer. 

Let’s figure out, once and for all, what breed of horse is larger.

CHECK: Breeds of Horses With Pictures

Horse Bigger than Clydesdale?

Clydesdales and Belgians are popular draft horse breeds within the horse community. Both are massive, powerful, and gentle giants that everyone loves. 

But what one of these draft breeds reigns supreme when it comes to their overall size? I’ll start with the Belgian and see their tale of the tape, along with interesting tidbits about their history and characteristics. 

Belgian Horse

two large Belgian horses bigger than Clydesdale

As one of the largest horse breeds, Belgians are still relied on for work.

Their capacity to pull heavy loads is legendary and quite impressive to witness. 

But these draft breeds have also become famous show horses and riding horses. Their patient, docile temperaments make Belgians a horse owner’s dream and an excellent companion. 

Size

Belgian Horses have an average height of 16 to 17 hands tall (64 to 68 inches tall). So it’d put their wither right at eye level for a normal-sized human being.

As for their weight, Belgians can weigh anywhere between 1,800 to 2,200 pounds. It comes from them having incredibly thick muscles, compact legs, and heavy bodies.

History

Many horse experts theorize Belgians had ancestors that were destriers within the Middle Ages. But there isn’t any evidence to confirm this popular belief. 

However, we do know that the Belgian foundation stock was initially called the Brabant. It was documented by the American Association of Importers and Breeders of Belgian Draft Horses, founded in 1887. 

These two breeds remained remarkably similar until about the 1940s. During this time, the Brabant was selectively bred to become heavier and thicker in Europe.

United States horse breeders bred the Belgian to be lighter bodied and taller, which aided them in serious farm work.

Brabants also started to differ in their common colors when compared with American Belgians. They were more often found in red, blue roan, and bay than chestnut/black or gray.

After the war, Europeans mainly used Brabants on farms and for meat. Belgians lived a more storied life in the US for farm work and leisure riding. 

Characteristics

One of the Belgian’s main traits is a small, refined head with an intelligent expression. However, it can provide a rather weird-looking picture, given their massive and heavy bodies.  

Speaking of their bodies, a Belgian will have a compact one with a short and broad back. Their loins will look more powerful than almost any other horse. 

Riders will also notice their quarters are gigantic and feature a double muscling over the croup. In addition, they have heavily muscled gaskins combined with short, stout legs. 

Among draft horses, Belgian horses have medium-sized hooves with limited feathering. But, don’t make any mistake about it; you’ll likely still be in awe of their hoof size.

Early Belgians were commonly bay, but chestnut/sorrel and roan were reasonably common. But breeders in the US have bred strictly for the roan and sorrel colors since the early 20th century.

Today, the most prized shade would be sorrel or chestnut with a white tail and mane. Other sought characteristics would be four white socks and a white stripe on their face.

Check this out:

Clydesdale Horse 

Clydesdale horses eating grasses

Anyone who’s seen a Budweiser parade is familiar with Clydesdale horses.

These majestic steeds are among one of the most notable heavy horse breeds in existence. 

But their imposing size shouldn’t scare anyone as they have calm temperaments. As a result, Clydesdale horses are consistently among the breeds horse owners love training most. For full details, check our guide about Clydesdale horse temperament.

Size

Clydesdales are known for being one of the tallest horse breeds. These horses stand between 16 and 18 hands tall (64 to 72 inches tall) on average.

As for their weight, it matches the imposing height, topping at around 1,600 pounds. Horse owners can also assume stallions will weigh more and be taller than their mare counterparts.

History 

Clydesdales were first developed within Scotland in the Lanarkshire district between the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It’s also where the name comes from, as The River Clyde flows through this area. 

Scottish settlers were the first ones to bring these horses into North America, specifically Canada. Clydesdales made their way into the United States in the late 1880s.

People used these regal horses to plow fields, pull farm equipment, and power machines during these times. 

But machines started to replace horses in industry and heavy farm work. It made regular old horsepower effectively useless, which caused Clydesdales almost to become extinct. 

Many experts also point to their usage in World War 1, as a reason for population decline. But thankfully, The Clydesdale Horse Society worked tirelessly to help them survive.

Breeders and enthusiasts also work constantly to ensure their survival nowadays. The largest population of Clydesdales is within the United States, as about 600 new horses are registered each year.

In modern times, most people use them for riding and driving purposes. But some are crossed with Thoroughbreds to make level-headed, powerful riding horses. 

Characteristics

A Clydesdale’s most distinctive attribute would be its massive hooves, which weigh about five pounds each. It’s almost as if these horses have frying pans attached to their feet. 

In comparison, an average Thoroughbred racing horse’s hoof is 1/4 that size. I couldn’t even imagine walking around with it attached to my foot; it must be exhausting. 

Clydesdales are also well-known for their white legs that feature a lot of feathering. Plus, they like to show them off with their high-step walk and trot. 

As for their common colors, Clydesdales often have a bay shading. But it’s not uncommon to find them in chestnut, gray, or black. Some might have solid coats, while others can have roan markings or spots.

White leg stockings are commonplace for this popular breed, but another solid color can also occur. In addition, many have bald facial markings or wide white blazes to create a rather striking combination. 

Black and bay Clydesdales are what people value over the others. It becomes an even higher premium when these horses sport white stockings or facial markings. 

Look at these Clydesdales:

READ MORE: White Horse Breeds and Albino Horse

Clydesdale Horse

Belgian horses tend to weigh more than Clydesdales but are shorter on average. So I end up siding with Belgian horses being more massive because the height difference is less pronounced than weight. 

After all, Belgians usually have at least 200 pounds on Clydesdale horses. It provides them with a more imposing look and a more oversized frame, even though they’re technically shorter.

 FAQs

Are Clydesdales good riding horses?
 

Besides being one of the tallest horse breeds, Clydesdales are known for being good riding horses. Most riders consider them comfortable and love that they have an “easy-going temperament, and are willing to work.” 

Is the Belgian Draft Horse the Largest Horse?

No, the largest horse in recorded history was a Shire horse. This horse, appropriately named Mammoth, was 21.2 hands tall and “weighed 1,524 kg (3,359 lb).” 

WHICH HORSE IS BIGGER- CLYDESDALE OR A SHETLAND?

Clydesdales are much bigger than Shetlands, which are considered the one of shortest horse breeds. The average height of a Shetland is “102 cm (40 inches).”

Conclusion

I hope our discussions about Belgian and Clydesdale horses satisfied your interest in them. If you have any more questions, please use our comment section.

I’m always ready to discuss these horses and what people think about them. Thanks for reading!

References

  • “Belgian Horse | Breed of Horse.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/animal/Belgian-horse. Accessed 12 July 2021.
  • “Destrier War Horse.” Medieval Chronicles, www.medievalchronicles.com/medieval-battles-wars/medieval-warfare/destrier-war-horse/.
  • Society, Clydesdale Horse. “Breed History.” Clydesdale Horse Society, 12 July 2021, clydesdalehorsesociety.com/chs-information/breed-history. Accessed 12 July 2021.
  • “Tallest Horse Ever.” Guinness World Records, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/70453-tallest-horse-ever. Accessed 12 July 2021.
  • “World-Famous Budweiser Clydesdales.” Www.budweisertours.com, www.budweisertours.com/Clydesdales.html. Accessed 12 July 2021.
Belgian horse standing on the grasses

Are Belgian horses bigger than Clydesdale? What do you think? Please share with us below!

Ben R.
Ben R.

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! I have three dogs and one old cat, plus experience with horses. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.

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