The World’s Foremost Heavy Horse & Mule Publication
The World’s Foremost Heavy Horse & Mule Publication
The World’s Foremost
Heavy Horse & Mule Publication

Belgian Stepping Stones

Bruce A. Roy

All of the draft breeds were worse off when World War II ended in 1945 than they had been before it started. The mechanization of agriculture was well underway and breeding was grinding to a halt. The Belgians, however, had retained a larger number of animals, in large part because they'd started with more ... and in particular, more young horses. Interestingly, several stallions from the era have emerged as cornerstones of the modern Belgian breed. Who were they?

To answer this question, the work of the leading horsemen that championed this popular breed in earlier years, albeit in Belgium, America and Canada, warrants a detailed review. Thanks to their enterprise, these horsemen did much to facilitate the Belgian’s current overwhelming success. Their genius should not be forgotten.

Six Honor Roll Sires
The great improver of the Belgian breed that we know today was Jules Hazard of Fosteau, in the province of Hainault, Belgium. In 1871, he purchased a lame 14-year-old stallion, found on the French side of the Belgian border. The stallion was Orange 1st (1144). Sired by Forton 1st, he was an excellent individual that was a prepotent breeding horse. Given his lifelong limp, he had failed to pass the Belgian government’s stallion inspection. Consequently, he had been sold to a buyer resident in France. In Jules Hazard’s possession, the offspring sired by Orange 1st won immediate attention.

Orange 1st was foaled in 1863. This son of Forton 1st, in Jules Hazard’s possession, became the breed’s leading sire in Belgium’s celebrated Fosteau Stud, from 1877 until his death at the age of 24.

A bay in color, Orange 1st headed Hazard’s Fosteau Stud until he died at the age of 24, when his son Orange 2nd (1156) succeeded him as Hazard’s breeding horse. A horseman that had no fear of inbreeding, Hazard bred Orange 2nd repeatedly to the daughters of Orange 1st that he'd retained for his breeding program.

Jupiter Ex Bayard, the Orange 1st son, best known as Jupiter, whose granddaughter, Finette, was the dam of Farceur (Imp), the cornerstone of today's Belgian breed in North America.

Jupiter Ex Bayard (126), who is best known as Jupiter in Belgian breed circles, was a son of Orange 1st. The Champion Stallion himself at Brussels' 1889 National Belgian Show, Jupiter’s sons and grandsons were Champions at Brussels nine times in the ten-year period 1894 to 1903. His Champion sons were Mont d’Or (6120) in 1894 and 1895; Olympian (8114) in 1896; Reve d’Or (7406) in 1898; Pirate (8878) in 1899 and Brin d’Or (7908) in 1900.

Reve d’Or, the World Champion Stallion of All Draft Horse Breeds shown before an international jury at France's 1910 Paris Fair, that proclaimed the Belgian the world’s leading draft horse breed.

Reve d’Or, the 1898 Champion, was foaled in 1891. This popular Belgian sire was the interbreed Champion Stallion at Paris, France, in 1900, where he defeated the Champion Percheron to the cheers of Belgian breeders ringside.

Indigene du Fosteau (29718), considered “the mightiest horse of them all,” was a Brin d’Or son, foaled in 1908. While bred by Jules Hazard, he changed hands several times. The Champion Stallion at Brussels in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1909; sons of Indigene du Fosteau won the coveted award in 1912, 1913 and 1914. A number of Belgian horses that were show ring winners in North America, were sons and daughters of Indigene du Fosteau. The greatest of these was the stallion Alfred de Bree Eyck (73424) 7955.

Alfred de Bree Eyck (Imp), who many Belgian pundits felt was second only to Farceur (Imp). This celebrated sorrel stallion, bred in Belgium, was foaled in 1910. In September 1910, Henry Lefebure, Fairfax, IA, brought him to America.

Noted American Sires
Alfred de Bree Eyck (Imp) was bred in Belgium. Foaled in 1910, he was imported by Henry Lefebure of Fairfax, Iowa. Charles Irvine, Ankeny, Iowa, purchased Alfred de Bree Eyck at Chicago’s 1916 International Livestock Exposition, where he was Grand Champion Stallion, an honor he also won at America’s 1920 National Belgian Show. Uniformly good, his offspring were predominantly sorrel or chestnut in color. Irvinedale de Bree Eyck, Reserve Grand Champion Stallion at the 1921 National Belgian Show, was his best son, while his best daughter was Irvinedale Jeannette, Grand Champion Mare at Chicago’s 1920 International.

William Crownover, Hudson, Iowa, imported Farceur (72924) 7332, a second of America’s celebrated foundation sires, in 1912. This roan stallion, also a direct descendant of Forton 1st, was foaled in 1910. The winner of several tanbark honors when shown by Crownover, Farceur (Imp) was Grand Champion Stallion at Chicago’s 1913 International.

The excellence of Farceur’s offspring was soon recognized. When Crownover dispersed his Belgians in 1917, Farceur (Imp) was purchased by C.G. Good & Son, Ogden, Iowa; who paid a record figure of $47,500 to win possession of the proven sire. Farceur (Imp) remained the property of the Good family until his death in 1921.

Paramount Wolver, Paramount Flashwood, Echo Dale Farceur, Oakdale Farceur, Monseur, Farceur’s Crown and Farceurs King, numbered among Farceur’s many sons. His daughters included four Chicago Champions: Lista, Salome, Paramount Lulu and Farceur’s Civette.

Ergot (Imp) 7611, was an eye-catching stallion, foaled in 1910, that R.P. French, Independence, Iowa, brought to America. In the possession of Charles E. Jones, Livermore, Iowa, Ergot (Imp) became one of the most successful Belgian sires of his time. A long-lived breeding horse, his offspring, who were noted “for their feet, bone, draftiness, action and quality,” offered fast competition in a show ring. His daughter, Genese d’Ergot, was Grand Champion Mare at Chicago in 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931, Reserve Grand Champion Mare in 1933 and 1934 for Earl Brown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. “She was a model,” whose full-brother Marcus, was Grand Champion Stallion at Chicago in 1920.

Rubis (Imp), the prepotent Belgian sire Michigan’s Owosso Sugar Company owned. His claim to fame was the excellence of his numerous offspring.

Rubis (Imp) 8004, was foaled in 1911. Michigan’s Owosso Sugar Company brought this Belgian-bred sire to the United States in 1913. His claim to greatness was the excellence of his offspring. Two daughters were Chicago Champions: Pervenche in 1923 and Manitta Rubis in 1927.

Rubis de Wolfe, the Michigan-bred son of Preston Wolfe, out of Pervenche, the honor-laden daughter of Rubis (Imp). He sold to Oka Agricultural College, La Trappe, QC, he was Quebec’s genetic giant.

Mon Gros (64988) 5937 was a chestnut stallion foaled in 1908. Imported from Belgium by J. Crouch & Son, Lafayette, Indiana, he was Grand Champion Stallion at Chicago’s 1911, 1912 and 1918 Internationals. This influential Belgian stallion was the sire of King, Chicago’s 1916 Reserve Grand Champion Stallion.

In 1907, George Rupp left the United States for Lampman, a town in Canada’s new province of Saskatchewan, where he laid the foundation of one of the most exciting Belgian breeding programs in North America.

Rupp’s earliest sire was Comet {792}, a low thickset grandson of Brin d’Or. In 1916, this enterprising horseman returned to Iowa, the state he came from, to buy a number of the state’s best-bred Belgian mares. Later that year, Rupp bought Paramount Wolver 9658 {977}, one of the better sons of Farceur (Imp).

Paramount Wolver was shown at Brandon’s 1917 Winter Fair, where he was Grand Champion Belgian Stallion. Shown across Western Canada in 1917 and 1918, he divided top honors with Fox de Roosbeke, shown by Dr. Charles Head, Regina, Saskatchewan. Paramount Wolver’s first daughter, Lady Wolver, cut a wide swath in the show ring, winning her class at Brandon, Regina and Chicago as a foal. Early in 1920, Paramount Wolver sold for $11,400 and returned to Iowa.

Paramount Flashwood 10376 {1610}, another Farceur (Imp) son, bred by William Crownover, was brought to Western Canada by George Rupp, as a 2-year-old. Foaled in 1916, Paramount Flashwood was a full-brother to Lista, Crownover’s Champion Mare at Chicago. Both Iowa-bred Belgians were progeny of Quimperlette, then one of America’s celebrated Belgian broodmares. Shown by Rupp, Paramount Flashwood was Reserve Grand Champion Stallion at Chicago’s 1918 International; Grand Champion Stallion at Waterloo, Iowa’s 1919 National Belgian Show. Both years, a select number of Belgian mares owned by fellow breeders in Saskatchewan were bred for a $100 service fee. This was a substantial figure in Canada at that time. Sadly, Rupp’s impressive Belgian sire died December 22, 1922.

In 1940, Professor J.W. Grant MacEwan, Professor of Animal Husbandry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, wrote: “Paramount Flashwood carried the unmistakable stamp of his famous sire and typified the most modern American sire with extensive muscling and somewhat greater quality of feet and legs, than many of the European representatives of the breed. Flat bone and a bold stride were characteristics which won admiration in both American and Canadian show rings.” While Paramount Flashwood’s early death limited his usefulness, his offspring won recognition north and south of the 49th parallel.

Weeks after Paramount Flashwood’s death, George Rupp wrote: “I feel the loss very keenly as Flashwood was not only a horse, but a part of the family. The loss is partly offset by a $25,000 insurance policy carried by the Hartford Insurance Company.” George Rupp left Saskatchewan in 1923, when he returned to Iowa.

Noted Canadian Sires
Indigene de Bruges [347], was one of the first Belgian stallions of note to arrive in Canada. He was one of seven offspring of Indigene 2nd bred by Gustave Nachtegaele in Belgium, that his brother, Louis Nachtegaele, brought to Mullingar, Saskatchewan, following the young Belgian immigrant’s arrival in the province. Indigene de Bruges (Imp) proved himself a prepotent sire, whose offspring sparked widespread interest in Saskatchewan’s draft horse circles.

Monseur 10410 [1364], a son of Farceur (Imp), was one of the most influential Belgian sires ever brought to Canada. Bred by William Crownover, this celebrated roan sire, foaled in 1916, was first purchased by the Holbert Horse Importing Company, Greeley, Iowa. Early in 1918, Monseur came to Canada, following his sale to C.D. Roberts and Sons, Winnipeg, Manitoba, who exhibited him at Brandon’s 1919 Winter Fair, where he was the Grand Champion Stallion.

Robert Thomas, Grandora, Saskatchewan, purchased Monseur when he left the show ring. Owned by Thomas for the balance of his long life, Monseur was a prepotent breeding horse. His son, Paragon Major, was three times Grand Champion Stallion at Toronto in the years before World War II, while Paragon Fan, a Paragon Major daughter, was the Grand Champion Mare in 1935.

Fox de Roosbeke 9661 [1098], a roan stallion bred by the Champlin Brothers, Clarion, Iowa, was foaled in 1915. Purchased by Dr. Charles Head, Regina, Saskatchewan, he was shown across Western Canada with considerable success. A son of Paul de Roosbeke, a stallion bred in Belgium that bred with success in Iowa, Fox de Roosbeke sired two daughters that were Grand Champions at Toronto–the mares Acceptee de Roosbeke and Lady de Roosbeke.

Pioneer Masterpiece [1570], a magnificent specimen of the Belgian breed, was foaled in 1919. Bred by George Rupp, this handsome sorrel was a son of Cesar de Nez, a bay stallion that R.P. French, Independence, Iowa, had brought to America in 1912. A whirlwind in action, Pioneer Masterpiece was shown with stellar success. The Grand Champion Stallion at Guelph, Ontario’s 1921 Winter Fair, Issac Beattie, of Brandon, Manitoba’s importing firm, Colquhoun and Beattie, considered Pioneer Masterpiece the best Belgian he ever saw. In 1921, C.G. Good and Son gave credence to Beattie’s opinion when they leased Pioneer Masterpiece for the breeding season.

Paragon Major [3165], was a Monseur son that Robert Thomas, Grandora, Saskatchewan, bred and owned. A red roan, foaled in 1922, his eye-catching dam, Belle de Keyem, was a chestnut mare much admired in breed circles. Vanstone and Rogers, Wawanesa, Manitoba, had imported her from Belgium in 1911. Grand Champion Stallion in 1922, 1924 and 1926 at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) himself, offspring sired by Pioneer Masterpiece won the Get of Sire class in 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931.

Balcan de Farceur 15181 [4380] foaled in 1927, was bred by Hazard & Stout Company of David, Iowa. Although he had no show ring record himself, he became one of Canada’s outstanding Belgian sires. A son of Major Farceur, Balcan de Farceur was a roan in color, like his paternal grandsire, Farceur (Imp). In the possession of Arthur Lombaert of Mariapolis, Manitoba, this popular Iowa-bred stallion’s offspring won Toronto’s Get of Sire Class in 1934 and 1935.

Carman Dale 13528 [3503], bred by W.B. Donaldson of Ogden, Iowa, was also foaled in 1927. His sire, Echo Dale Farceur, one of Farceur’s greatest sons, had been Grand Champion Stallion at Waterloo, Iowa’s National Belgian Show as a 3-year-old. Carman Dale was sold to Charles M. Rear of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who fielded him at Canada’s leading fairs. Purchased by the Haas Brothers, of Paris, Ontario, Carmen Dale was shown at Toronto’s 1929, 1930, 1931 and 1932 RAWF, where he was Grand Champion Stallion. No stallion did more to popularize the breed in Ontario, which became a Belgian hotbed in the decades following World War II.

Boer d’ Boy, America’s long-lived Belgian stallion, whose offspring won the Get of Sire at Chicago six times from 1922 to 1941. His daughters, in particular, numbered among American breeders' great mares.

Horses native to the Upper Basin of the Meuse River, located in northwestern Europe, were well known for their size. The heavy fertile soil found in this geographic region, known as Flanders, facilitated their added growth. Flanders includes the southwestern Netherlands, much of Belgium and the northwestern region of France. With few exceptions, these Flemish horses influenced the development of the draft horse breeds known today, the Belgian breed in particular.

Members of the Lefebure family that left Belgium to take up residence in Iowa were instrumental in introducing the Belgian breed to horsemen in this state, which fast became a center of American breed activity.

George Rupp brought Belgians in number from Iowa to Canada’s new province of Saskatchewan, where the breed fast became popular, as it did in French-speaking Quebec, where the provincial government helped import seedstock–first from Belgium, then from the United States as World War II started to engulf much of the world.

While the draft horse market in North America collapsed in the decades following the war, horses of the Belgian breed survived in greater numbers in the United States, than did Percherons, Clydesdales, Shires and Suffolks. Today, the Belgian breed–in the United States, in particular–enjoys a fast trade, for breed numbers have surpassed those found in the other heavy horse breeds. However, in Canada, Percheron and Clydesdale numbers remain equally strong.

The stepping stones that today’s Belgian breed descends from primarily were the stallions that won championship honors at Chicago’s International Livestock Exposition from 1922 to 1941, and at Toronto’s RAWF from 1922 to 1938.

Winter 2020-'21'

  • Belgian Stepping Stones

    by Bruce A. Roy

  • National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides

    by Sandy Powell

  • Horsemen's Roundtable — Pairing Up Horses

    with Richard H. Yoder, Aden E. Weaver, Gordon Ruzicka & Tim Kriz

  • The Return of the Draft Horse to French Vineyards

    by Virginia Kouyoumdjian

  • Steve Andrews — Gentleman of the Highest Bid
  • The Budweiser Project: Mr. Busch Saved the Clydesdale Breed

    by Edward Y. Morwick

  • Hooves on the Ground — The Mules of the U.S. Forest Service

    by Cappy Tosetti

  • Judging Class of Clydesdale Hitch Mares

    officiated by Gary Nebergall

  • Matt Clover's Vigilante Carriage Services

    by Heather Smith Thomas

  • Live Hard, Play Harder — The Ballad of Jack Forsyth

    by Brenda Hunter

  • Wilderness Airstrip Rehabbed with Mules

    by Teresa Byrd

  • Horse-drawn Deliveries Amidst a Pandemic

    by Lynn Telleen

And Furthermore
  • National Elk Refuge Overview

    by Sandy Powell

  • Shoeing Reiners

    by Ray Legel

  • Statement of Ownership
  • Estimating Colt Weights
  • The Pregnant Mare: Nutrition for the Final Three Months

    by Dr. Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

  • Elmer Mallet – Marathon Mule Farmer

    by Lonny Thiele

  • Winter Action with Horses & Mules

    a pictorial by Jack C. Norbeck/Norbeck Research