How they ride depends on their shoulder slope and conformation...just like with regular horses..If you buy one with too upright a shoulder , you'll get a rougher ride..
There are basically two types of Belgians. The short stocky ones that resemble their Brabant cousins and the Hitch type that were bred for height and leg action. As for food, mine eat 50 lbs a day when you work them. My girl is 17.2 hands and weighs in at almost 2000 lbs. My Percherons team is taller and weighs about the same.. 50# is what they are supposed to get. Preferably no grain at all since they are very prone to EPSM and will tie up. People that think they only need 35 pounds are trying to keep them a riding horse so smaller tack will fit..You loose the muscle and conditioning they require to hold those big bones together. Large draft crosses that are worked will also require almost as food as their full blooded relations.
My Belgian mare is Farceur line..known for their weight pulling ability. She has old blood lines that aren't the new finer boned ones..
Here is Deb with TWinkie my APHA mare who is 15.2 hands
Deb with Angel...her daughter and Twinkie
Getting a much needed hoof trim with my husband who is 6'2" and closer to 300 #'s than he will admit...
When we got Buck and Judy our Percherons, their owner was feeding them a 50 # bale of hay a day for the two of them and thought they looked good. He was riding Buck.
This is Buck then
And now with his proper weight and condition..
Hope that helps a bit..Just remember ...a draft horse is still a horse and not always the gentle giant many claim they are..the difference is about a 1000 lbs. I ditto everything that waterbuggies says!
People that think they only need 35 pounds are trying to keep them a riding horse so smaller tack will fit..You loose the muscle and conditioning they require to hold those big bones together. Large draft crosses that are worked will also require almost as food as their full blooded relations.
I disagree with this. My Percheron is a riding horse and his feeding routine is not based on keeping him small for tack. There is all sorts of draft horse tack out there to chose from. He doesn't get as much food as you suggest because bigger horses don't always need to have more food. The exceptions are pulling horses, broodmares, lactating mares, etc.
Mine gets the same amount of food as the other horses in the barn and when I am riding regularly he doesn't loose his muscle or conditioning. It's better that they are not too fat.
My belgian is the type bred for height and movement. He's HUGE. He's also underweight at the moment because of his previous owners. However unlike Deb up above who's smaller with more bulk, my boy Sammy is 18.3 and 1500lbs and the vet says his ideal weight for being a riding horse is around 1800 and the majority of it should be muscle. He's amazing to ride but because of his movement it's hard to sit until you get used to it. My friends belgian is 18 hands and very big and bulky and his movement is the same. I think it depends on where you get them and how they're training is. I love drafts though. I put Belgians in my top for draft horses to own.
I was basically talking just hay in the diet without any grain or other pelleted supplements as extra calories. Mine will eat less HAY If I were supplementing and yes would be fat as well... You will get less of what is known as a "Hay Belly" since their innerds will be less bulky if you don't use only hay. I don't grain my drafts because of EPSM ,nor my lights because of colic. I haven' had a colic or tie up with any of my horses since I went to JUST hay and vitamin supplements like "Mormons Mineral or Millenium Gold" Some 30 years ago. I like the fact I can just jump on and go no matter how much they just ate. A full intestine with hay will give you this.
Its gods design that a draft be drafty and we used it when we bred for Angel for my husband. Deb will garr your teeth out at a trot but Angel is big and just floats. She is much more of a riding horse than her mother. Our other draft cross Wakina is also. Buck is narrower bodied than either of my draft mares and can be ridden more comfortably, but I just can't see riding in the chinese splits position anymore now that I'm older..
Debs body has low set hocks for pulling and if you were to show her, you want those hocks to be clean and almost touching when set up for halter. The chest to be wide and square, and feet to be big and flat. Scotch Bottom shoes are prefered at Congress and other big shows for a horse to win.
I have a picture of Debs sire when he was shown in Canada. This is MAX as a two year old
When he was 22 years old
Poor guy was just on 50 pounds of senior then and lost tons of muscle mass. He had no teeth left then and the vet that owned him put him down two years later.
Percherons, Clydes, Shires and Belgians have different show standards so you'll just have to check with the particular show you enter.
When I did research on the American Belgian draft, I found something interesting..It is beleived that Percherons and American Belgians are related. Blacks and Greys in the Percheron breed were very popular, whereas the roaned Belgian color wasn't (look up Brabant colors) So some breeders used the Chestnut Percherons from Europe and imported them to Amercia to get height. The shorter chestnut / Flaxen color Belgians were bred to the taller cousins to get todays American Belgian..Its why the german / Belgian drafts with flaxen and chestnut are so much stocker and shorter than our Belgians. The Marais and Faarceur line were left to be stocky for pulling purposes.. Faruceur was known for his light colored coat (might have been a creme gene or Champagne) and his breeding was used to create the light flaxen mane and the "Blonde" Chestnuts. His line was also used to create the Creme Drafts. Marias Line was very dark chestnut and the flaxen was more carmel colored.
Meadowbrook Farms, Warren Bros, and a fella by the name of Charley Orndorff were major factors in the 40's and 50's that set the breeding standard for todays modern Belgian...MeadowBrook used the word "Con" in front of their horses names such as "Conqueror". Deb's sire was used for breeding some of Orndorffs mares due to his old style breeding.. Standards have changed since then and todays breeders are going for height and lighter bone in the halter ring..
With Deborah's pedigree you can see many of these names and bloodlines of the foundation horses of the American Belgians..
Actually drafts have taken a turn over the last several years to tall and refined. Even Belgians. The teams at the fairs this year were nothing like the short chunky ones you're talking about. So I think saying God's design that a draft be 'drafty' isn't always the case.
Mine is the more tall and refined rather than short and stocky.
As far as feed, I was talking about the same thing. Hay no supplements. Mine does not get grain either, only packer pellets in order to put his MSM and corn oil on. Otherwise, it's just hay.
I personally see this trend it getting "lighter heavy" breeds slightly worrying.
They make me think of dog breeds, for some reason.
The Great Dane of let's say 50 years ago was bulky, strong, muscular and tall.
The Great Danes of nowadays are more and more lean and less muscular and honestly without a crapload of supplements and training they look like plankboards.
Same for show-bred Dobermans, who resemble some Serengeti gazelles at nowadays shows sometimes, unlike their sturdier work breed lines.
I personally consider a draft horse's main qualities are musculature, power and sturdiness, along with a good health.
Solon, I think she was refering to the future of the breed. It isn't that big of a stretch though, we humans are pretty well known for *******izing horse breeds for "show" purposes.
I am just thankful that both mine are the thick, heavy types, though John is still really tall, how thick he is makes him look shorter. Bessie, my goodness, I have never seen a barrel the same size on any other horse, not even a draft. That's where most her height is, her legs are actually pretty short.