Did you know that the best show jumpers come from Belgium?
Belgium is not just renowned for its chocolate, beer and pigeons. If you have plenty of cash and want to buy a top show jumper, then Belgium is the premier destination to shop for a horse. In the past, Belgian draught horses and war horses were already very popular. They piqued the interest of Julius Caesar and Emperor Nero among others. But nowadays our show jumpers are highly valued around the world. It is no coincidence that a quarter of the horses in the Olympic jumping final in Rio came from Belgium.
Show jumping riders and horse breeders are prepared to dig deep into their pockets for a Belgian horse. The daughters of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Bruce Springsteen have already been known to shop for horses in Belgium. Most show jumpers cost between 20,000 and 200,000 euros. But the most expensive horses can change hands for up to 10 million euros.
The success of Belgian horses did not happen overnight. It is the outcome of more than fifty years of hard work and having a keen eye for good genes. There are five excellent pedigrees of show jumpers, which breeders have used for decades to sire horses. They have thus created a strong pedigree.
A good example is the history of the Belgian warm-blooded horse. The three progenitors, Flügel, Lugano and Codex, already were very successful during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. One of their descendants was the legendary Darco (1980-2006). This stallion became a full-time sire after his amazing sports career, siring thousands of offspring. And fifty of them made it into the top 500 of the best show jumpers in the world. After his death in 2006, a statue was even erected in Darco's honour in the village of Peer in Belgium.