Holstein - Horse breeds, horse breeding and types of horse.   
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This page has been sourced from REC.EQUESTRIAN, the body of the text has been unaltered as far as possible. The information is for use at own risk. Date: Tue, 10 Aug 1993 15:05:57 CET From: Dr. Lutz Massonne Newsgroups: rec.equestrian


Being a horse similar to the Hanoverian, only a bit heavier, the Holstein breed can be traced back to the medieval war-horses of the 14th century. By crossing in Spanish and Arabian blood the breed became lighter. Since the 19th century the Holstein carries more English half-bred and thoroughbred blood, which made him a good multi-purpose horse with success in international sports. To keep the warmblood type, no more Thoroughbred blood may be crossed in any more. The Holsteiner is bred primarily in the surrounding of the city of Elmshorn in the Holstein region. With an average height of 160 to 170 cm the Holstein is heavily built, with good shoulders and a compact, rounded body, large barrel and a heavy croup. The legs are short and heavily boned.

The Holstein is willing and very adaptable, has good nerves and intelligence. The most common colours are bay, dark bay and black. On the fat pastures of the marshes as well as on the dry grounds of the "Geest" (the less plentiful inland region - LM) already during the Middle Ages excellent horses were bred. Dukes of Holstein, Danish kings and not least the monasteries were sponsors of horse breeding "for toiling the land as well as for the woes of war", as written in old chronicles. Stallions from Andalusia brought to the Holstein horse the proud outlook and the high knee action. Holstein stallions were valuable assets, the founded not only the Hanover breed, but also were used in Oldenburg, Mecklenburg and Westphalia. However, the Holstein type stabilised only when Yorkshire Coach stallions were imported from England in the last century. The stallions "Owstwick", "Brilliant" and "Burlington Turk" are seen as the foundation fathers of today's Holsteiner.

During the Prussian time of Holstein the state stud ("Landgestuet") Traventhal was founded in 1867. In 1891 the breeders on the marshes united, and in 1896 the Geest region breeders also founded a society. In 1935 both societies united to form todays Holstein breeder association. Of great importance was the founding of the Riding and Diving school at Elmshorn in 1894. The schools goals were and still are: education of the young breeders, schooling of horses to prepare them for top-class sport, successful public relations for the Holstein horse. In 1960 the state stud Traventhal was closed, as the number of breeding acts had rapidly declined. The stallions were then transferred to the breeder's association.

The breeding goal of the association is: production of a marketable horse type with the assets of a riding horse, but still keeping the characteristics of a rural multi-purpose horse. To achieve this goal, mainly Thoroughbred stallions with steeplechase success were used, to keep the jumping abilities of the Holstein breed.

Todays Holsteiner is somehow similar to the English or Irish Hunter, a powerful and noble horse, suited for showjumping as well as driving. Holstein teams are very successful at driving competitions. Although the number of horses of Holstein breed is much smaller than those of Hanoverian or Westphalian breed, the number of Holstein horses in competition driving is equal to the other breeds. It is not possible to look at the Holstein breed without a word of honour for the most famous four-legged Holsteiner. Fritz Thiedemann's "Meteor" was the best of the best of Holsteins many good showjumpers, known and successful on all large European events. His statue is located in front of the Elmshorn riding and driving school.

Exterior: Sometimes heavy head with Roman nose. Well-set neck and good proportioned shoulder, deep and broad chest. Strong, sometimes rather long back with muscular loin and well-muscled croup. Correctly formed legs with clear tendons and joints. In its original type a heavy-boned large horse with large canter strides and enormous jumping ability, the modern type is a bit more noble. Colour: mainly bay (light bay to dark bay), seldom chestnut or grey Size: 165 to 175 cm Usage: All-round horse for riding and driving with special jumping ability.

Holsteiner: warmblood breed, local in the state of Schleswig-Holstein. The breed is a private breed based on local farmers with stallions belonging to the breeder's society at Elmshorn. Holstein is a rather small breeding region with about 3000 broodmares which created a large number of international top class sport horses for dressage, showjumping and driving. The Holstein is a strong riding horse with a size from 160 to 170 cm, mainly bay horses. The breed is known since the Middle Ages and was carried mainly by monasteries, nobility and the Danish court, including the local farmers.

During the 16th and 17th century Spanish and Neapolitan stallions were crossed in, who dominated the appearance of the Holstein until the 19th century with features like Roman nose and impressive size. At those times the Holstein was in great demand as a carriage and riding horse with high knee action all over Europe. Holstein stallions influenced many local breeds or were even used as a basis. In the 16th century the Royal stables of Phillip II of Spain and the Hessian prince's stables at Dillenburg bought many Holstein stallions, in 1735 the state stud at Celle was founded with 13 Holstein stallions as basis of Hanover's breed. In 1767 Holstein stallions went to Westphalia to improve the small local breeds and 1780 some Holstein stallions were sold to Oldenburg. The French equestrian writer Gueriniere praised the Holsteins value as a riding horse and France bought thousands of cavalry horses in Holstein.

In the 19th century the breed type changed by adding heavy doses of English Thoroughbred blood who at last dominated the appearance of the Holstein riding horse. The Prussian stud agency founded the state stud Traventhal in 1867, which bred mainly for military purposes and did not suit the needs of the rural breeders. As a countermeasure they founded the Holstein breeding society in 1891 and the riding and driving school at Elmshorn in 1894, which until today manages education, marketing and private stallion keeping. The state stud was closed in 1960 in the course of the overall decline of horse breeding.

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