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Shrimping With Brabant Horses
Before Belgian draft horses worked the fields of America, their ancestors, Brabant horses, dragged nets and helped fishermen harvest grey shrimp from the North Sea of Belgium. They still do, thanks to tourism, local promotion and a few dedicated fishermen preserving the 500-year-old tradition in Oostduinkerke in West-Flanders, Belgium.
  The gentle, sloping coastline and abundance of shrimp make the location ideal. During low tide, the horses walk breast-deep in the water parallel to the coastline, pulling funnel-shaped nets held open by two boards. A chain dragging over the sand makes the shrimp jump up and into the 23 by 33-ft. nets. Riders return their horses to the beach every half hour to give their horses a rest, and to sort and empty the nets. Blinders help keep horses calm.
  Though Americans have never used horses for shrimp fishing, there are some who appreciate the Brabant breed for its strength and temperament and are trying to increase its numbers in the U.S. (www.theamericanbrabantassociation.net).
  “They are easy going without being deadheads. They are big, but not stupid and slow,” says Karen Gruner, of Gambier, Ohio.
  She discovered Brabants about 25 years ago, when she was looking for a mare to breed with a donkey for draft mules. She happened across Babar, a Brabant, and was impressed with his offspring. She purchased a mare and has been a Brabant fan ever since.
  “They want to please, they tend to be easy to train and fit well in a small sustainable operation,” Gruner says. “I ride mine as well as drive them. They range from 15.1 to 17.2 hands.”
  In Medford, Wis., Jason and Katrina Julian use Brabant horses on their 225-acre dairy farm and for their Legacy Horse Logging business (see story at top of this page).
  “The best thing about Brabants is their disposition. It’s a horse you can count on in tough situations,” he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Karen Gruner, 22978 Caves Rd., Gambier, Ohio 43022 (ph 301 788-9191; acornridgemd@gmail.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #2