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The Belgian Warmblood is a horse that is bred specifically for show and competition, it particularly excels in dressage, and jumping arenas, it also takes part in three-day events on occasion. In the 1950s, these horses were mixed with Gelderlanders to increase their size and strength. Then in the 1960s, Selle Francais and Hanoverian horses were introduced into the bloodline. Then again, later two more breeds were added, the Thoroughbred and the Anglo-Arabian. These breeds were introduced to increase the conformation and speed of the Belgian Warmblood. The combination of all of this cross breeding gave the Belgian Warmblood great athletic ability and more free movement in general.The Belgian Warmblood has been specifically and carefully selected for breeding for a long period of time and because of this it has become more and more popular in countries that over run with heavy horse breeding in past years. The Belgian Warmblood reproduces in large numbers every year, in fact over 4,000 new Belgians are born every year. Besides being the ideal competition horse, they are also praised for their excellent temperament towards people and just in general.
The Belgian Warmblood is not characterized by coat color or pedigree but by its purpose. Between the ages of three and four years old the horses are sent before a jury in a stallion licensing test. The test is a variation of inspections and examinations of the horse's athletic ability as well as an evaluation of qualities under saddle. If a stallion does not achieve the marks that are required they are not eligible for the stud book. The mares take part in evaluations and testing that are very similar. For current stallions of the stud book to retain status in the stud book, they must take part in young show jumping events called the "Classic Cycle". Since they are primarily bred for show jumping, in 2006 the Belgian studbook was ranked 11th in dressage and 15th in eventing. Mares are not eligible for breeding unless they are taller than 15.1 hands high.
The Belgian Warmblood has a small list of horses that have made a name for themselves in some way or another, some such names include: "Oh Star," "Darco," "Jus De Pomme," and "Clinton." "Big Ben" (April 20, 1976 to December 11, 1999) however, was a horse that whose claim to fame came as a World Champion show jumping horse. He originally went by the name "Winston" named after Winston Churchill, one of the great political leaders of the 20th century; he died 13 years before "Big Ben' was born. It was in 1983, when he was sold to a farm in the Netherlands for only 2,000 dollars that he was renamed "Big Ben." During his career, which began in 1984, "Big Ben" won over 40 Grand Prix titles. He toured for 11 years and then by the age of 18, he was retired to a farm in Perth. He was then inducted into the Ontario Sports Legends Hall of Fame and was one of the only other horses to be in the Canadian Hall of Fame, besides the Thoroughbred racing horse by the name of "Northern Dancer."
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