Most Popular Driving Horse Breeds Best At Pulling A Carriage


Groningen Horse Breed

Essentially a Dutch farm horse, the Groningen can be used successfully as a heavy-weight saddle-horse and is also an excellent carriage horse, showing speedy, responsive, and stylish action, with much natural bearing and great endurance.

Of good conformation, this horse has a strong back and deep body, with legs and feet of excellent substance, and a very refined head and neck yet thrive on poor-ish fare. His strong characteristics are said to be docility and obedience. Height ranges from 15.2 to 16 hands, although larger specimens are permitted. Despite being a comparatively heavyweight, the horse is primarily a light draught horse, of pure breed and good pedigree.

Lipizzaner Horse Breed

This famous breed is of Austrian origin and takes its name from the place, Lipizza, where the stud farm of the same name was founded in 1580 by Archduke Charles, son of Emperor Ferdinand I.

The origin of this breed goes back to 1564 when there had been introduced into Austria a highly specialized type of horse, the Kladruber (taking its name from the stud farm of Kladrub in Bohemia), which was the result of a mixture of Spanish and Neapolitan blood. The characteristics of this breed were a heavy, big-boned frame, small head, round nose, curved or arched neck, and, often, drooping ears.

The height was from 16 to 17 hands. They were bred for court use, to draw the royal carriages, and to be ridden in processions and on state occasions. Owing to inbreeding, they developed a number of defects, becoming very short-lived, liable to have poor feet and legs not strong enough for their size and weight. In spite of this, however, they continued in use until the break-up of the Austrian Empire in 1918, when they were all sold and the stud dispersed.

The Lipizzaner is derived from a cross between the Kladruber and a small Italian horse of Northern Italy – especially near Trieste and in Gorizia – with a later admixture of Arab blood. There are six famous lines: ‘Pluto’, ‘Conversano’, ‘Neapolitan’, ‘Favory’, ‘Maestoso’ and ‘Siglavy’. These are the animals that were used in the Spanish Riding School at Vienna, which was built for Emperor Charles VI in 1735 by the architect Fischer von Erlach. It may be noted that the celebrated airs and exercises taught and practiced there are not of Spanish origin, in spite of the name of the school, but were initiated by two great horsemen of the past, one English, the Duke of Newcastle, and the other French, Antonius de Pluvinel, riding-master to Louis XIII.

The Lipizzaner is a very beautiful horse, nearly always grey. It is extremely shapely and elegant in appearance, with a longish body, well ribbed-up, strong quarters, rather heavy shoulders and neck, small head, good legs with plenty of bone. The nostrils are rather narrow, the eyes large and horizontal. The best of them show their Arab blood, and the general impression is one of strength and grace, and dignity. They are intelligent and very docile in disposition. By contrast with their ancestor, the Kladruber, Lipizzaners are long-lived, and their intensive training in high school work does not really begin until they are from five to seven years old.

Up to the Second World War, the chief breeding place of this breed was at the Hungarian State Stud at Babolna, which was founded in 1789, when Hungary was part of the Austrian Empire. Breeding was carried on there, on a large scale, of Arabs and half-bred Arabs as well as of Lipizzaners. The general system was to breed from selected fillies on their reaching four years. After the first foaling, the fillies were broken-in for driving, and those with the best performance continued as broodmares. Apart from his high school use, the Lipizzaner is a magnificent carriage horse and a good hunter and hack.

Since it has so much presence, especially under saddle, with its spectacular action and arresting coloring, not to mention its understanding nature and tractability, it is somewhat surprising that the Lipizzaner has not been used even in the now rather a distant past as a riding horse in England.

So great is the reputation of the Lipizzaner and so worldwide the knowledge of its association with the Spanish Riding School at Vienna, that little more need be said. Long after many types or breeds of note have ceased to exist, the probability is that the Lipizzaner will be found displaying the traditional acts of the Spanish Riding School as it has done for over three centuries.

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