Today’s American Brabant Horse
by Jason Julian of Medford, WI
A broad, blocky body exuding power and old world aesthetics along with a voluminous mane and tail and massive legs with thick feathering, are what most people envision when they hear the Brabant name. This traditional Brabant horse that you may have seen pictures of, is indeed impressive. The Brabant horse did not begin with this appearance however. A stallion named Orange I, who was a very famous draft horse, officially began the Brabant lineage in the late 1800’s. An amazing book titled, Het Trekpaard In Belgie 100 Jaar In Fotos, shows the yearly evolution of the Brabant horse in photos. The Belgian champion in 1890 was a stallion named Brilliant. He was a Flemish horse sired by Orange I.
However, as with absolutely everything in life, this horse has its strengths and weaknesses. Besides physical strength and durability, a good character, temperament, and willingness to work are the Brabant’s strong suits. The health problem of CPL (Chronic Progressive Lymphedema) has come to the forefront in recent years. This is an inheritable trait eventually causing lameness and even a shorter life expectancy. Several other draft breeds with heavy leg bones and excessive feathering have this problem. The American Brabant Association (ABA) is doing its utmost to research horse lineage for overall health as well as responsible breeding strategy. We also work to promote this amazing breed of rare and ancient horses by hosting and attending field days, distributing information at the ABA booth during Horse Progress Days, and through social media. ABA members live in all parts of the United States and Canada. So while we do get together in person at various horse events as they are rotated throughout the US, monthly conference phone calls are a great asset for frequent communication. There is also a quarterly newsletter and special “Stallion Parade” issue for members of the ABA.
Membership is only $30 per year and gives each member voting rights within the organization and contact information for each other. This contact info is especially helpful when the responsible horse owner is looking into breeding prospects or would simply like to buy an American Brabant horse. Approximately five years ago a small group of breeders and enthusiasts got together on a conference call and resurrected the club which had ground to a halt. Then about three years ago a committee was formed to begin the daunting task of building our own registry. The need for this was twofold – first the Belgian Draft Horse Corporation and soon followed by its Canadian counterpart, stopped registering imports from Belgium and the Netherlands. Also the majority of the horses we have on this side of the ocean are a percentage of recent imports (since 1965) crossed with our now distinctly different drafts of this country and Canada. The committee wished to track and document these percentage horses as soon as possible to track bloodlines here.
Over the course of fifteen long months of weekly conference calls, the group laid out what is now referred to as the “Handbook” containing the five tier system. The tier system is not a measure of the quality of the horse but a system representing the amount of verifiable Brabant lineage of horses imported since 1965. Why 1965? From the information we can find it seems that no Belgian horses were imported from about 1939 until Albert Stankewicz began again in the late 1960s. During that time in America and in Europe, distinctly different types of Belgian horses were developed. And here lies the beauty of the tier system – it affords the American Brabant breeder the room to breed the type of horse they prefer as long as it has verifiable Brabant blood imported since 1965.
For more info or to join the ABA, you can find us at:
American Brabant Association
P.O. Box 181
Isanti, MN 55040