Polish Half-bred Horse Breed
Apart from racing, the prime purpose of the Polish breeding of Thoroughbreds was to improve the native stock and to produce a good half-bred riding and working horse.
The nature of the country – the wide agricultural lands, type of soil, lack of good roads, and distances from railways – rendered the heavy-draught horse, such as the Percheron and Shire, almost useless. The need was for strong, lighter-weight animals of good blood and bone.
In Poland, a Half-bred horse is one that has English Thoroughbred, Arab, or Anglo-Arab blood on at least one side of his pedigree. Half-bred studbooks or registers are kept, and entry into them is very strictly controlled. It was during the period between the wars that the breeding of Half-breds was reconstructed on a highly selective basis, and some very good types were produced. The requirements of cavalry during that time, of course, played an important part in this development.
The type of Half-bred varies in different provinces of Poland, according to variations of soil, climate, strains of blood, and the local needs. That of the Poznan and Pomeranian provinces was based on the English Thoroughbred and was a big-boned animal of good conformation and action, bred from stallions of the Racot Stud with both local and German (Trakehnen) broodmares. These provinces specialized in producing cavalry remounts. In 1938 the Racot Stud had four Trakehnen stallions, eighty-six broodmares and a hundred young stock.
The Kielce province bred a horse full of quality, and of about 15.2 hands, from Arab stock. The Lublin Half-bred has English blood; while Warsaw and Lodz provinces produce both English and Anglo-Arab Half-breds.
The dominant factor in the breeding of Half-breds was the army, which bought a large number of horses every year. The specifications, most strictly adhered to, were: medium size, full of quality, near to the ground, well-ribbed, with deep girth, strong legs, and good bone, and free action. Good temperament, courage, endurance, and the ability to ‘do’ well were also essential qualities.
Half-breds were also much used in agriculture, where they proved themselves as useful as in military service. Polish horsemen on half-breds competed in shows and tests all over Europe, and at the Berlin Olympic Games, Poles were the only riders other than the Germans who rode horses bred in their own country.
It is not really possible to compare the Polish Half-bred with the English Part-bred Arabian, since the English product has, so far as the Arab Horse Society’s Register is concerned, confined entries to horses and ponies of the riding type, whereas the Polish counterpart has leaned towards producing a not-too-heavy horse for agriculture. It is, moreover, unlikely that the English Society will do the same.
As a general commentary, it can be said with assurance that the meticulous care shown by the Polish horse-breeders in producing the Polish Arab has been exemplified in the Polish Half-bred.
Welsh Cob Horse Breed
The virtues of the Welsh Cob are known far beyond the confines of Great Britain, for it is an animal of many virtues and of outstanding strength and activity. As a breed, too, it is old established, having its foundation in the Welsh Mountain Pony, whose antiquity really dates to a time long before any true records existed.
The Welsh Cob has had a great influence upon trotting animals in many parts of the world, and its blood has gone far in the making of the outstanding Hackney horse and pony of Great Britain. It was, too, very many years ago, used in the development of the Fell Pony, which up to comparatively recent years had been used as a trotting pony, and the records of times and distances were greatly prized in the famous Fell stallions of those days.
As may be expected, the Welsh Cob has inherited much of the hardiness of the mountain pony, which it resembles in many respects, for it should have the same small head showing a lot of quality, and the small, pricked ears so characteristic of the pony. It must, too, have a strong, deeply girthed body and immensely powerful quarters with a well-set-up tail, while its legs must be short and strong, standing over not too much ground and showing a broad and generous chest.
In action, it must be active and show not too much knee, and have with it as a bold and virile carriage. Its uses are many and it can be described as the utility type. Few animals could be found more useful to the small farmer, for it is of a tractable nature and it is useful for all kinds of harness work, being capable of pulling a big weight and trotting on in a way to eat up the ground.
General character: strong, hardy, and active, with pony character and as much substance as possible. Colour: any color, except piebald or skewbald. Head, full of quality and pony character. A coarse head and Roman nose are most objectionable. Eyes, bold, prominent, and set widely apart. Ears, neat, and well set. Neck, lengthy, and well carried.
Moderately lean in the case of mares, but inclined to be cresty in the case of mature stallions. Shoulders, strong but well laid back. Forelegs are set to square and not tied in at the elbows. Long, strong forearms; knees, well developed with an abundance of bone below them; pasterns, of proportionate slope and length; feet, well-shaped; hoofs, dense. When in the rough, a moderate quantity of silky feather is not objected to, but coarse, wiry hair is a definite objection. Middle-piece back and loins, muscular, strong, and well coupled. Deep through the heart and well ribbed up.
Hindquarters are lengthy and strong. Ragged or drooping quarters are objectionable. Tail well set on. Hind legs: second thighs, strong and muscular, hocks large, flat and clean, with points prominent, turning neither inwards nor outwards. The hind legs must be not too bent and the hock not set behind a line falling from the point of the quarter to the fetlock joint. Action, free, true, and forceful. The knee should be bent and the whole foreleg should be extended straight from the shoulder and as far forward as possible in the trot. Hocks flexed under the body with straight and powerful leverage.
As an indication of type hardiness and stamina, it should be noted that in the pre-mechanized army days, the cob, being capable of bearing an enormous weight, was much used for military pack work and for mounted infantry. Because of this, stallions of the right type were always in demand by foreign governments for the purpose of infusing the right blood and for the production of the right type of horses for army purposes.
In contemplating the future of the Welsh Cob of draught type and that of riding type, one can only conclude that the latter will retain its popularity in these days when any good riding horse is in such demand. It is interesting to reflect and to record the fact that in the Cob and the Mountain Pony, the Welsh have two quite outstanding examples of horses.
Anglo-Norman Horse Breed
In the origin of this breed we find as the foundation, a Norman horse which was a powerful and enduring animal, and very much appreciated in those times as a warhorse. William the Conqueror is said to have brought to England a large number of these horses, which did much good in improving the English native horse.
In later times the Norman horse deteriorated by careless crossing with the Danish and Mecklenburg carthorse, and since 1775 Arabs and English thoroughbreds and half-breds were used. Between 1834-60 a large admixture of Norfolk trotter blood gave origin to the Anglo-Norman trotter, which was chiefly bred in the district of Morleraut (Dept. of Orne). The soil of this district is rich in lime and iron, and in addition to this, qualities of water and climate favor the breeding of an excellent horse with good bone and strong muscles. Anglo-Norman trotters are very hardy and enduring and have a very good reputation.
Besides this group of trotters, there are two main types of Anglo-Norman: first, the draught type, standing from 15.2 to 17 hands with a strong admixture of Percheron and later of Boulonnais blood, usually grey, but sometimes bay, chestnut, or black. The horse was used as a mail-cart horse, thanks to a capacity for pulling a heavy load at a good pace.
Secondly, there is the cavalry type, which was much used in the army and for sport. Although some of them are excellent horses there are many of them which do not answer military requirements and are an unhappy combination of two breeds. Being “well-topped”, their hocks and bone below the knees are deficient, sometimes consisting of inharmonious pieces inherited from the Norman, others from the English Thoroughbred. Good ones, however, make really excellent horses for sport and the now restricted military service. In any event, they make good horses for general use.
While the heavier type was bred in the region of Mortagne, Anglo-Norman saddle horses were bred on a large scale around Caen.
This breed, like the other half-breds raised in France, is nowadays known in that country under the name of Cheval de Selle Francais.
Dutch Draught Breed
The Dutch Draught Horse belongs to the most massively built and most heavily muscled breeds of Europe. The official descent can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century by means of the Studbooks of the Royal Netherlands Draught Horse Society, which covers the whole of the country and includes all Dutch Draught Horse breeders, its aim being the improvement and promotion of Draught Horses in the Netherlands.
In order to consolidate the characteristics of the breed, no horses of unknown pedigree have since 1925 been entered in its Studbook, and this is the only one in Holland that is based upon absolutely pure breeding since only the progeny of officially registered parents is made eligible for entry.
Horses are not entered until their pedigree has been carefully checked and an accurate description has been supplied. When a registered horse is over two and a half years, it can be entered into the Preferential Studbook, after passing a special examination of its conformation. For an even further grading of preferential mares and stallions, inter-provincial prize examinations are held at regular intervals, and once a year a national show is held, at which not only conformation but also breeding achievements and pedigree are judged.
Draught Horse breeding in the Netherlands has developed rapidly and has been pursued in all provinces for many decades, and is now very successfully carried on throughout the country, on all types of soil, including sandy, peaty, and heavy silty soils. Today the breed is recognized as being docile under all circumstances, willing, and active, with a pleasant, courageous disposition.
It is famous for its exceptionally long working life – it can be used for light work on the farm at two years or even under – for its durability, great fecundity, and excellent breeding performance. It has a quiet and intelligent temperament and great stamina. Last, but not least, it is very moderate in its feeding requirements and can be successfully maintained on plain fare.
Description: The Dutch Draught Horse is a massive, hard, deep animal of heavy build. The neck is very short, carrying a not too heavy head, with withers little developed and shoulders more often than not heavily loaded. The legs are well placed, correctly shaped, and heavily muscled, with good feet; the forequarters are well developed and massive, the back strong and wide with well-sprung ribs, and the hindquarters wide, heavy, and powerful. The tail is low-set, the croup sloping more perhaps than in any other breed. Colour bay, chestnut, or grey: black is rarely seen.
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