Popular European Horse Breeds and Their Traits 2023 [personalities & Characteristics]

Norwegian-Fjord Breed

This striking kind of pony may be found all over Europe, and it is often considered to be among the most interesting and unique of all the breeds. In point of fact, there are two varieties of this breed that are recognized: the fjord-hest, which is found in Western Norway, and the doele-hest, also known as the “valley-horse,” which is found in the interior. Both share the same qualities, but the variety that originated in the west is seen to be the more historically significant of the two.

The unusual coloring, which falls somewhere between cream and dun, is, of course, the breed’s defining characteristic. A dark dorsal stripe extends from the tail to the forelock through the mane, which is typically cut to a length of four to five inches so that it can stand up in a delicate crest. Dark markings, similar to zebra stripes, can sometimes be seen on the legs. Dun is the predominant and original color, though bays and browns can also be seen in this species. There are around 14 hands between us.

The head of the Fjord pony is proportionately developed, characterized by a broad and level forehead, large eyes and eyebrows, and a prominent cheek ridge. The head is relatively smooth despite its rather huge size. The ears of the Fjord pony are short and truncated, and they are placed relatively widely apart. The neck is abrupt and somewhat short.

As a direct consequence of this, the link between the head and the neck is quite rigid. The neck is elevated quite a bit. The withers are relatively round and shorter than average. The length of the back is about average, and it has a lot of muscle development. Inbreeding tends to produce animals with long backs that have fewer muscles that are less well developed. The croup is rather round and slender at the same time. When compared to the inner corner of the hip, the outer corner of the hip is located quite a ways forward.

This results in the croup becoming somewhat narrower, but on the other hand, it also makes the pony’s couple become significantly stronger. The thighs are typically quite strong despite their shallow appearance. Inbreeding should be avoided since it might lead to long second thighs and bent hocks. The legs are bone-dry, spotless, and have a grainy texture. The movement is quick and light, with frequent changes in footing. The majority of Fjord ponies are frugal and simple to feed, and as a result, they are an excellent choice for smaller farms and for use in vegetable gardens not just in Norway but also in other countries.

The Norwegian pony has a placid disposition, enjoys the company of others, and is kind by nature. It moves with something resembling a shuffling trot and has a will of its own, but it is tenacious and unrelenting in its pursuit of its goals. The ponies are never cut, and their manes and tails are never ruggedized. They are only given hay to eat during the winter months when they are kept in communal stables together with cattle, pigs, and other livestock. This is the case unless timber carrying or other particularly heavy work is to be done, in which case they are given oats and bred.

Schleswig Horse Breed

The western region of the Schleswig Province is home to the horse’s breeding grounds. During the Middle Ages, it was highly valued as a saddle horse, along with the Friesian, for the purpose of transporting knights who were fully armored. Since that time, German authorities have shown a strong interest in the breeding of these animals. At the tail end of the 19th century, the Schleswig Horse Breeders Association was established in order to exercise greater control over the region’s breeding practices and generate a breed of horse that was suitable for use not just as an artillery horse but also as a heavy carthorse. The province of Schleswig once belonged to Denmark, and ever since then, one can occasionally find a trace of the hefty Danish horse’s blood in the Schleswig.

Ukrainian Horse Breed

In the same way as English Hunters were produced, the Ukrainian saddle horse was developed in a stud farm in Ukraine. Large mares descended from West European saddle horses were crossed with Thoroughbred stallions to produce the Thoroughbred horse breed. This has led to the development of a horse with unusually short legs that exhibits an abundance of bone, a robust body with a well-shaped back, a good girth, and shoulders that are suitable for riding. It is a well-proportioned animal that has the capacity to carry a lot of weight and has the potential to be an effective hunter. It has been asserted by the Ukrainian that it demonstrates a remarkable ability to jump.

Gudbrandsdal Horse Breed

Two kinds of Norwegian ponies, both of which are robust, powerful, and relatively tiny in size, have a striking resemblance to the native ponies of Sweden and Finland. The majority of the horses may be found near the beaches of Norway’s north and west, and they are typically dun in color with a black stripe running along the back. The Gudbrandsdal Valley (Ostland) breed is well known not just in Norway and other countries, such as Sweden and Poland, but may also be found all over the rest of Europe. It is a horse that is about average size and has a nice stride.

Any discussion of this horse needs to take place in the context of all the other horses that are native to Northern Europe and Scandinavia, which, as has been mentioned in other contexts, share an astonishingly high number of features.

Klepper Horse Breed

It is believed that eastern horses were used to breed with the native mares of the Baltic regions of Livonia and Estonia, as well as the islands of Dago and Oesel. As a result, the Kleppers are believed to have descended from these native mares. They have a good outlook, possess remarkable strength and endurance, and some of them show great skill in trotting. Their height ranges from 13 to 15 hands, and they have a good outlook.

When thinking about this breed, it is important to keep in mind that it has evolved into several different variations, each of which has been given its own name as a result of the admixture of foreign blood at various times throughout its history, as well as the effect of soil and climate. Despite this, they have all managed to keep a certain degree of resemblance, and each one is imprinted with the qualities of the wild horse that came before it.

As a direct result of this, the Klepper, along with any of the breeds that are closely related to it, have a remarkable capacity to thrive on the scantiest of diets, as well as an abnormally high level of strength relative to their size. Their pre-potency in impressing their type on their children is arguably only second to that of the Arab, and despite the fact that their lives are typically difficult and demanding, they are known for living extraordinarily long lives.

Numerous North European breeds are distinguished by their dun coat color, which is characterized by an eel-stripe that runs down the back and into the tail and by black manes and tails. The Klepper is considered to be a member of this group of breeds, and there is no doubt that the breed may be categorized, at least to some extent, as one of the big families that spans the entirety of the northern areas and features a wide variety of types of dogs.

The introduction of Finnish blood to the Kleppers resulted in the creation of the Viatka pony, which ranges in height from 13 to 14 hands and comes in two varieties: Obvinka and Kazanka. All Viatka ponies have excellent conformation and appearance, are tough, robust, and quick.

Friesian Horse Breed

It is believed that this breed is bred with increasing success in the so-called meadow districts and in sandy soil areas in the province of Friesland, which is located in the Netherlands and is home to the entire country’s original population. This breed is considered to be one of the oldest in Europe. It is stated that the horse’s outstanding character is largely responsible for its widespread appeal. The horse is known to excel in docility, willingness, and happy temperament, making it possible for untrained laborers to safely manage the animal. In addition to this, it is a cost-effective feeder that is able to maintain its condition on diets that would cause other breeds to starve to death.

A head that is finely carved and has small ears is borne on a neck that is shapely and has an extraordinarily long mane that is known to reach the ground on occasion. Although the back is sturdy, the ribs are deep and well-rounded, and the tail, which is covered in hair, is situated at a somewhat low position. It is important to notice that the color of the hair is always black, but a little star can occasionally be seen among the follicles. In addition, the legs are densely covered with hair, sometimes reaching all the way up to the knee joint. If a Friesian horse has had either its mane or tail docked, trimmed, or otherwise altered in any way, the horse would not be eligible for registration in the Friesian Studbook, which was established in 1879.

Because maintaining the integrity of the breed is of the utmost significance, the stallions and mares must first demonstrate that they meet stringent requirements regarding their conformation and pedigree in order to be enrolled into the studbook. They first go through a comprehensive special examination, and then they are put through a stringent veterinary check.

Because of the many obstacles that were placed in the way of mechanized traction during the years of the Second World War, the number of breeding activities significantly grew during that time period. It was possible to build a huge horse population of quality that was even higher than it had been in the past thanks to the efficient management of the Studbooks and the great breeding material that was available. As a result of its striking color, its trainability, and its natural, balanced carriage, the Friesian stallion has gained popularity as a circus horse, and it is speculated that the demand for these horses is only going to continue to grow.

Friesian horses pulling Friesian gigs, with the occupants possibly being a gentleman and his lady, both dressed in the old Friesian costume, while the Friesian National Anthem is played to complete the picture, is a frequent and popular spectacle in the show ring in the Netherlands. The Dutch as a nation have always been very attracted to the harness horse in the show ring. Height about equal to 15 hands.

Iceland Horse Horse Breed

The ponies that live in Iceland are not native to the country; rather, they are immigrants, and their history is almost exactly contemporaneous with that of the people who live there. Ingolf and Leif, two Norwegian jarls, are credited with being the first people to settle in Iceland. They fled to Iceland in 871 after refusing to pay tribute to Harold Fairhair after he proclaimed himself the sole king of all of Norway in 870, and they eventually made Iceland their permanent home in 874. Additional settlers eventually arrived from Norway, and then later in the same century, people from the Western Isles did the same.

These settlers brought their families, as well as their home goods, domestic livestock, and domesticated animals, including ponies, with them when they settled. Therefore, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the horse was brought to Iceland from both the east and the south-west – Norway and Ireland – and that the current animal is a mixture of two early varieties of the Celtic type of a horse, which we find to be so widely distributed across both north and west Europe. Ireland is considered to be the ultimate location of origin of the southwestern or Hebridean stock because there was a significant amount of trade and travel that occurred between Ireland, the Hebrides, and Iceland. There are also references to horses in the Icelandic sagas; two of the most well-known horses are the chestnut stallion owned by Starkad and the brown horse owned by Gunnar, both of which are recorded in the “Saga of Burnt Njal.”

In addition to the more commonplace domestic usage of their ponies, the Norse colonists who settled in Iceland participated in the sport of horse combat for recreation. Up until the time of their conversion to Christianity at the end of the 10th century, they observed significant events by partaking in the consumption of horse flesh.

In general, Iceland ponies are separated into three categories: riding, pack, and (to a lesser extent) draught. However, all of the draught ponies can be ridden if necessary. The walking gait of the riding ponies has been slowed down to an ambling pace. For the better part of a millennium, they have been Iceland’s sole mode of transportation throughout the country’s entire history.

They have short, stocky bodies, enormous heads, intelligent eyes, very short, thick necks, heavy manes and forelocks, and their height ranges from 12 to 13 hands. In terms of looks, they are small and stocky, with large heads and clever eyes. They have a vision that is quite acute and are extremely hardy creatures. They also have a strong homing instinct, and the traditional technique to bring a pony back to its owner after a long journey is to let it loose in an open area; the pony will, in most cases, find its way back within a day. They are not conducive to conventional horse training or horse mastery, and the use of one’s voice is typically the only form of control available. They have a personality that is submissive and friendly, despite the fact that, like all of these little pony breeds, they have a nature that is sturdily independent.

The best traits of both strains have been lost as a result of unsuccessful efforts to build a finer, more breedy type of Thoroughbred hybrid in order to produce a good child’s pony. These attempts were unsuccessful. It would appear that the Iceland pony is not a breed at all, but rather a combination, and that it is unable to reproduce true outside of its own blood.

A sort of horse that is analogous to these should be mentioned at this time, and that is the Faroese pony. Dark brown, chestnut, and even black can be seen on some of them, while the Iceland pony most commonly appears in shades of gray and dun. Despite their striking similarities in personality and outward appearance, the two types of ponies have very different coat colors.

There was a consistent commerce in England for the Iceland pony up until quite recent times, with many of them going to work in the pits and others finding themselves between the shafts working largely in the towns. This trade continued until relatively recent times. It is safe to conclude, based on the information provided in this article about these hardy little ponies, that they brought their owners a great deal of contentment. This sentiment is echoed even now when people express the hope that Icelanders may one day return to their traditional appearance. It is strikingly similar in outline, conformation, and coloring to a great number of Northern breeds, including Scandinavian, Highland, and Norwegian dogs, as well as Shetland and Connemara, but to a lesser extent. Ponies with a level of hardiness that is almost never seen in other populations and very probably will never be surpassed are collected together in that group.

Breeding for the East Bulgarian Horse Began on the Kabiuk Farm towards the end of the 19th century, using a stud of Anglo-Arabs, a group of cross-bred English mares brought from private horse breeders in Poland, a second group of cross-bred English mares brought from certain state farms in Bulgaria, as well as a certain number of native and Arabian mares. These horses were used in the selection process for the East Bulgarian Horse. Throughout the first fifteen to twenty years, improvements were achieved by using English Thoroughbred or cross-bred sires (known as out-breeding). Subsequently, during the next thirty or so years, improvements were made by using line-breeding. This continued until the East Bulgarian breed was created.

Near the town of Balchik in the Dobrudja plain, the Military Stud Farm Bozhurishte handed over its stud to the Ministry of Agriculture in 1951, at which time the Ministry established a foundation stock in the form of the S. Karadja State farm (near the Black Sea coast). The Bozhurishte horse has a strong genetic connection to both the English crossbred that was raised on the V. Kolarov State Farm and the East Bulgarian strain that was used in its breeding. At the moment, the foundation stock of the Kolarov and Karadja families are virtually indistinguishable from one another.

The stud farms and stallion stations in East Bulgaria produce horses with a form that is well-developed, compact, and graceful, and they have a good motory mechanism. It takes 16 hands to reach the average height.

In the process of selecting the East Bulgarian horse, not only are exterior qualities and progeny taken into consideration, but also the results of performance tests conducted on the foundation stock, which includes both mares and stallions.

East Bulgarian Horse Breed

In addition to the native pony type, Sweden is home to a general utility horse type. This horse type is the offspring of hybridization between the local “cold-blooded” horses of the north and west of Europe and the “warm-blooded” animals from the East, with the latter blood not coming from a single breed but rather from a variety of European breeds. In more recent years, the majority of these have been Anglo-Norman and Trakehner stallions. These stallions have integrated Thoroughbred genetics into the native stock, which has resulted in a significant improvement in the breed.

The end result is a kind that is a compromise between ride and draught, as a result of the military desiring remounts that are becoming more and more Thoroughbred in nature and agriculture requiring animals that are bigger and stronger for farm work. In general, this kind is a “warm-blooded” horse that is powerful, compact, and has short, clean legs. They also have a good disposition and are suitable for saddle and draught work.

The North Swedish Horse is a distinct breed of draft horse that is native to Northern Sweden. They are also referred to simply as North Swedish Horses. Earlier efforts to develop the breed were unsuccessful; however, in the year 1900, an association was established with the purpose of establishing the North Swedish Horse breed. The method consisted of gradually improving the quality of the existing local stock by the introduction of Gudbrandsdals, which originated in Norway. This strategy was fruitful. In 1944, there were 400 stallions that were used to impregnate approximately 15,000 mares, which resulted in the production of approximately 8,000 pure North Swedish horses each year. By that time, the importation of Gudbrandsdal had all but ceased, while an increasing quantity of Oldenburg was being brought into the country.

The North Swedish Horse is an excellent choice for agricultural labor in Northern Sweden that requires only a light amount of pulling power.

Swedish Horse Breed

The Swedish Ardennes horse breed is the most common type of heavy-draft horse in Sweden and accounts for more than 60 percent of the country’s total horse stock. In 1837, Belgium was the place where the Ardennes was originally brought to the United States. This was before the breed had been mated with the heavier Brabancon. In the year 1901, a Studbook was established for the breed, and ever since 1924, the Swedish Ardennes Horse Breeding Association has been responsible for maintaining pedigrees and registering all foals.

A census taken in Sweden in 1950 revealed that there were a total of 439,760 horses of all ages in the country. About 16,000 of them were considered to be “warm-blooded” horses, while 138,000 were considered to be “cold-blooded light-draft,” and 286,000 were considered to be “cold-blooded heavy-draft.”

Polish Thoroughbred Horse Breed

When people talk about “Polish Thoroughbreds,” they are referring to horses who come from pure English Thoroughbred lineage but were produced and bred in Poland. Four men in particular were responsible for bringing the first English Thoroughbred into Poland at the beginning of the 19th century. These men were Count A. Zamozski, E. Eberhard, F. Ursyn Niemcewicz, and Count Krasinski. Count Krasinski came rather later than the first three but was no less influential.

In 1841, the Polish Horse Racing Association was established, which was modeled after the Jockey Club in England. However, breeding racehorses was a costly pastime, and it did not spread beyond the efforts of a few wealthy families until 1877–1872, when economic conditions improved broadly. The introduction of the totalisator to race meetings in 1879 made a significant contribution to the improvement of financial conditions, which in turn allowed for the expansion of Polish Thoroughbred breeding.

The following stud farms were among the most prominent during this time period: L. Grabouski’s stud, which was established in 1846 at Leczna and later moved to Serniki; Jan Ursyn Niemcewicz’s stud, which was established at Stoki in 1850; Count L. Krasinski’s stud, which was located at Krasne in 1857; Count August Potocki’s stud farm, which was located at J

Because of the excellent broodmares that were imported from countries like England, France, Germany, and Austria, the quality of all of these studs was exceptionally high. E. Blanc paid 37,000 guineas to acquire the horse known as “Flying Fox” from England. At the time, he was considered to be one of the most famous stallions in existence. A fee of 10,000 francs was required for him to stand at Jardy.
Thoroughbreds that were bred in Poland enjoyed racing success across Europe, particularly in Russia in Moscow, Petrograd, and Tsarskoe Selo, as well as at Baden-Baden, Vienna, and Hamburg.

In the 1890s, the number of large private stables decreased, and they were replaced by enormous training stables modeled after their English counterparts. These stables were responsible for the training of a large number of horses that were individually owned and bred. After 1903, when some of the greatest amateur advocates of Thoroughbred breeding in Poland passed away, like Count Krasinski and Ludwik Grabowski, the number of racehorses bred in Poland began to decrease.

However, there was a significant comeback after the First World War as a result of the work of Frederik Juriewicz, who was responsible for saving more than 200 Thoroughbreds that were evacuated to Odessa at the beginning of that war. Juriewicz’s actions led to the revival. In 1918, one of these horses took first place in the Derby held in Odessa. In 1919, they were transported back to Poland from Romania in one piece.

It is absolutely necessary, for all intents and purposes, that a general description of the Polish Thoroughbred be identical to the description of the English Thoroughbred. It is impossible to predict how much the Polish racehorse will once more influence competitions held in other European countries.

It is common knowledge that the French Thoroughbred racehorse was able to not only make it through the Second World War in relatively good shape, but that after only a short period of time had passed since the war’s end, it was once again competing with the English racehorse and enjoying a great deal of success, not only in France, but also in England. This was the case both in France and in England. Everything that has been written in general praise of the Polish-Arab and Polish Half-bred dogs also applies, without a doubt, to their Thoroughbred.

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