Top Famous German Horse Breeds 2022 [personalities & Characteristics]

Beberbeck Horse Breed

The Beberbeck Horse originated from the Beberbeck region in Germany, which was chosen for a study because of its excellent natural conditions favoring horse breeding. The Beberbeck Stud was founded more than a hundred years ago and existed until several years after the First World War when the whole stud was bought by the Polish Government.

When one looks into the pedigree of the Beberbeck horse one finds that in its roots there were local mares improved by Arab stallions. Then the systematic crossing with English Thoroughbred stallions took place. Inbreeding Beberbeck horses, however, one principle was strictly observed, namely, that the mare got by an English Thoroughbred stallion was never covered by an English Thoroughbred stallion again, but by a homebred Beberbeck stallion.

Finally, Beberbeck horses represented a heavier type of the English Thoroughbred, with a very good conformation, deep in the girth and with a lot of bone. Their adversaries alleged that they were inclined to softness, but a test organized in Poland for half-bred horses proved that the Beberbecks were a very good type of cavalry horse, and very useful for agricultural work, also making good light cart horses. They stand usually over 16 hands, their color, in general, being bay and chestnut.

Oldenburg Horse Breed

The heaviest of the German ‘warm-blooded breeds is the Oldenburg, which is a big animal, often standing 17 hands, with many characteristics of the ‘cold-blooded’ horse, such as flat hoofs, heavy head and neck, and flat ribs. Besides these defects very often found in ‘cold-blooded’ breeds, the Oldenburg has the great quality of early maturity.

As a breed, it is not a hardy type and is lacking in endurance. Today the Oldenburg has a good deal of English Thoroughbred blood, the introduction of which did not make for improvement, and it can be described as a half-bred horse of heavy type. As such, therefore, and in particular having regard to its early maturity, it is a good commercial proposition.

Hanoverian Horse Breed

The Hanoverian breed, as it is known today, is a comparatively modern production. It owes its origin to the influence of our own Hanoverian kings, who, from the time of George I down to 1837, took a great interest in the horse of their native Hanover, and sent many English Thoroughbreds to cross with the existing German breeds.

These breeds were sprung from the German Great Horse of the Middle Ages, which was a descendant of the animals that carried the Frankish horsemen when, under Charles Martel, they met and defeated the Saracens at the Battle of Poitiers in 732, one of the decisive battles of the world. The descendant of these animals may be traced from the Eastern and Southern European breeds of pre-Christian times, mixed with the horses of a German tribe, who settled on the left bank of the Rhine about A.D.100 and who ‘were distinguished from all other German tribes by their love of horses and their finely organized cavalry.’

From the time of the Franks, the German horse developed and became the great warhorse of European armored chivalry. The Flanders, Cleves, and so on were all varieties of the same type.

With the advent of gunpowder and the disappearance of armor, the type had to be modified again, and German breeders developed the 17th and 18th century light and heavy cavalry horse, falling into three main groups – Hanoverian, Mecklenburg, and Danish.

This old Hanoverian breed was then, as we have seen, interbred with the English horses sent over by the Hanoverian Georges, and had finally disappeared by about the middle of the 18th century, to be replaced by the modern Hanoverian, a close and direct descendant of the famous fathers of the English Thoroughbred, the Darley and Godolphin Arabians and the Byerley Turk.

There are few breeds of horses on the Continent better known than the Hanoverian.

Mecklenburg Horse Breed

The prime object of German horse breeding was to produce the type of horse that could serve first for military purposes and in peacetime could be useful as a working animal. Thus, besides a few breeds of ‘cold-blood’ horses like the Rhenish or one-time Mecklenburg, which during wars served as heavy artillery horses, many ‘warm-blood’ breeds were artificially created, such as East Prussian, Hanoverian, Holstein, and others, which would answer all military requirements. They represent the cavalry or light-draught type of horse, standing from 125.2 to 16.3 hands, with good bone, being good weight carriers with easy action.

Today, the Mecklenburg horse is a ‘warm-blood’ horse got by ‘warm-blood’ stallions out of ‘warm-blood’ mares and bred by breeders organized as ‘The Association of Mecklenburg Warm-blood Breeders’. The Mecklenburg horse passed through several stages. Once a heavy type of horse, in the middle of the 19th century it represented a good saddle-horse which was, unfortunately, very much deteriorated by the introduction and bad management of the English Thoroughbred. With its excellent pastures, Mecklenburg was used not only as of the breeding country for ‘warm-blood’ horses but also as a rearing ground for the 3,000 or so Hanoverian foals which were taken there each year.

Reviewing the position as described, it will be seen that the Mecklenburg, like so many of the German breeds, has passed through many stages as the result of endeavors made to improve the breed by upgrading, coupled with the desire to effect a certain standard or type. Like so many of the country’s equine products, the Mecklenburg shows admirable substance and bone. Since in the past the object has been to breed a general-purposes horse, with a strong emphasis on one suitable for cavalry or artillery, it is a matter for conjecture what future type will be evolved by Germany in view of the almost complete mechanization of the Army. It may be that with such excellent pasturage the country may concentrate on producing a riding horse that, as has been shown, would not be foreign to the Mecklenburg breed.

Trakehner Horse Breed

Undoubtedly the best German breed is the East Prussian horse. East Prussia, the biggest horse-breeding center of the German Reich before the end of the Second World War, used to supply to the German Army the largest number of remounts, while before the war breeding East Prussian foals and selling them as yearlings was an extremely profitable proposition for local farmers.

The most prominent role in the foundation of the East Prussian breed was played by the Trakehnen Stud, founded in 1732 by Frederick William I of Prussia (father of Frederick the Great), who supplied both the land and the foundation breeding material, partly from Royal Studs and partly by the importation of many high-class Arabs from Prince Radziwill’s Stud at Taurogi, in Poland. Trakehner horses soon became the pride of German horse breeding, and Trakehnen Stud became the pépiniere of the East Prussian breed.

The Trakehnen Stud, which has a 200-year-old tradition and more, lay in the north-western part of East Prussia and, looking at the beautifully drained plains with excellent pastures well supplied with lime and phosphorus to give horses good bone, one could hardly believe that in the first quarter of the 18th century the same place was swampy and only covered by shrubs, but the stud is now in ruins and the surrounding country is devastated and generally uncared for.

The Trakehner horse is a beautiful and good-tempered animal, well ribbed, standing about 16 hands, with a strong back, and having a very good action. The horse comes of local and Schweiken origin, the breed graded up by Arabs and English Thoroughbreds of a heavier type. Just before the Second World War, the Germans, to improve the breed, looking for a long time for a suitable high-class Arab stallion, and finally found one in Poland.

In the Trakehnen Stud the service period was towards the end of November and foals were left with their dams until four and a half months old. As three-year-olds they were sent to the training establishment, which was on the spot, where they remained for a year. When they were four-year-olds they were submitted to trials which included hunting with a pack of hounds and cross-country races, the obstacles being fences, banks, and open ditches. The best were retained for breeding in the Trakehnen Stud; the second-best went to State Studs, the third class being sold to private breeders.

These three classes were branded with a stamp (elk’s horns) on the near side thigh, varying in different classes, while those who did not pass the test were castrated and sent as remounts to the army. The important role in the improvement of the Trakehner horse was played by the stallion ‘Perfectionist’ by ‘Persimmon’ out of ‘Perfect Dream of Morion’. The best offspring during the war were produced by the stallions ‘Persival’ and ‘Dampfross Von Dingo’. The association of breeders of a light horse of Trakehner origin counted 10,000 members with 20,000 mares registered, while four State studs bred army remounts in East Prussia from 500 stallions and 33,000 mares.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that this famous breed has been fostered with characteristic German thoroughness, for it is doubtful whether any organized breeding has insisted on such exhaustive training as was undertaken at the Trakehnen Stud. It is hard to imagine, too, an association watching over the interests of one breed of light horse claiming a membership of 10,000. This is a tribute to the breed, which has always been held in high esteem by horsemen of many nations.

No doubt the high quality, sound constitution, and stamina of the breed owes something to Thoroughbred and Arab blood. The Trakehnen Stud was destroyed during the war, but the breed is extensively fostered in the Southern part of East Prussia, now belonging to Poland. The identical animal is bred in large numbers in Germany and is known by its old name of East Prussian, which breed is identical with the Trakehner.

Height, 16 to 16.2 hands.

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