Agricultural History Series

 Missouri State University

 1904 St. Louis Worlds Fair

Belgian Horse Shows

Judging commenced on Monday, August 24, 1904, for the heavy Belgian horses.  Events surrounding the Belgian judging were anything but ordinary!  A single judge system had been set in place for all breeds.  However, as a gesture of good diplomacy, a judge from Belgium  was asked to co-officiate with the American judge in the Belgian breed.  Mr. Talbert served as the American judge, and Mr. Van Autgaerden represented Belgium. 

The first disagreement between the two judges was over the class of aged stallions.  Mr. Prichard, one of the most-used judges for draft horses, was called in as a referee. Mr. Prichard sided with the American judge.  Then, Mr. Talbert and Mr. Van Autgaerden differed in opinion once again.  This time they disagreed on the two-year-olds.  For a second time, the referee sided with the American judge.

Disgusted and enraged by such a challenge of his expertise, the Belgian judge withdrew from the contest.  In addition, the Belgian Government withdrew its whole exhibit of horses from the judging. According to the Belgian commissioners and judges, they felt that their horses had been judged in light of American special requirements and conditions for the breed.  Even though they felt that they had been poorly mistreated, the Belgian Government exhibit had been assigned the most desirable barn at the fair!

Lafayette Stock Farm exhibit was the talk of the show.  Proud proprietors of the largest horse exhibit were J. Crouch & Son of Lafayette, Indiana.  Their Belgians claimed first prizes in both the aged stallion and the two-year-old stallion classes.  "Troppist,"  grand champion of the Belgian class, and his mate, "Carnot," were certainly show stoppers!  Together the heavy horse team weighed an impressive 4,700 pounds.

Judging of the Belgian horses

Proud and poised Belgians shown with breeders.

Despite such unfortunate events, the Belgian horses presented by both United States and Belgium were quite impressive.  Vast improvement had been observed in the class of Belgian horses brought to this country in the past two years.  Imported Belgians of the past were said to be heavy in the neck and shoulders, steep rumped, light of hind quarters and rough in the legs.  Strength and beauty among the three-year-olds helped this breed to be ranked along with the Percherons and German Coachers as the strongest in display at this world’s fair.

First prize winners were:

References:  The Breeder's Gazette.  August 31& September 7, 1904.  World's Fair Bulletin.  October, 1904.

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