Ostfriesen-Alt-Oldenburger breed information
Ostfriesen-Alt-Oldenburger horse general information
COLORThe primary colors are black, seal brown, and dark bay, though bay, chestnut, and gray do occur. Typically, they are conservatively marked.
SIZEAt three years the horse is expected to stand between 158 and 165 cm tall
ORIGINThe damp, low-lying region of Germany which lies between the Weser River and the Ems River is called Ostfriesland ("East Friesland"). It borders the Netherlands, and is part of a greater region traditionally known as Frisia. Frisia is characterized by the dialects of the peoples who settled it, but also by its low-lying, coastal geography. In the west, it includes what are now the Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen; centrally, the Oldenburg region of Lower Saxony, and its northeastern region includes much of what is now Schleswig-Holstein to the border of Denmark. Frisia is the region best-known for heavy warmbloods.
USESOstfriesen/Alt-Oldenburgers are useful not just in sport and driving, but for recreation, police work and therapeutic riding. They are also used in forests for ecological reasons.
INFLUENCEHanoverians, Trakehners, Dutch Harness Horse
TEMPRERAMENTCorrect and balanced horse with a calm temperament
Today there are 20 approved stallions and 160 broodmares in the northern population of heavy warmbloods. They are bred with a pure-breeding scheme, using Ostfriesen/Alt-Oldenburg, Groningen, Saxony-Thuringian Heavy Warmbloods, and Silesian Heavy Warmbloods. The goal is a versatile, correct and balanced horse with a calm temperament. Desirable is a horse with a strong constitution, peaceful companionable temperament, which utilizes its feed well, has high fertility, and is suitable as a riding and driving horse. The walk and trot should be efficient and expansive, the latter with some action. The physique should speak of a moderately elegant horse of great depth and breadth, well-sprung ribs and a strong hind end. The head should be expressive with a large, friendly eye. The neck is muscular, medium-length, well-formed and set high on a long, sloping, muscular shoulder with defined withers. The back is medium-long, solid and elastic with a broad loin, the croup slightly sloped, wide and muscular. The limbs should be correct and dry with great bone strength, very strong joints suited to the horse's size, ending in the all-important well-shaped hooves.
The word "Oldenburg" was first mentioned in reference to a town in 1108, and has had many meanings over the centuries. The name applies both to the city of Oldenburg, and also the surrounding rural district, and historically a state or Grand Duchy.
Prior to the 1600s, the horses of Oldenburg were of the same types found throughout Europe in the Middle Ages: small, hardy farm horses, smooth-stepping saddle horses, quicker "coursers", and a very few highly-prized, powerful destriers. However, as the availability of firearms grew, heavily-armored knights and their heavy mounts became impractical "relics of the past."
The Spanish horses, ancestors of the Andalusian, the Danish Fredriksborg, and the Neapolitan horse were particularly popular among the German nobility during the 17th and 18th centuries. As they collected these stallions, the residents bred them to their heavy mares, setting a foundation we would identify today as "baroque". From this base of thick, primarily dark-colored horses, the Groningen, Friesian, East Friesian, and Oldenburg would eventually be born.
Kranich, an Oldenburg stallion bred by Anton Günther around 1640, shows Spanish influence that was popular at the time.
The horses of Oldenburg have never had a State Stud, and they first gained recognition under Anton Günther (1583-1667), Count of Oldenburg, who is said to have taken great personal interest in the breeding of horses. Count Anton Günther returned from a trip lasting several years with a number of horses he admired in Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Poland. Later, a gift of Oldenburg horses kept the Count of Tilly from sacking Anton Günther's dominion.
While the breeding of horses in Ostfriese and Oldenburg was driven primarily by the nobles, without the aid of a studbook registry, the world's first ever stallion Körung occurred in the region. In 1715, Georg Albrecht Prince of Ostfriese adopted this practice of rigorous evaluation of potential herd sires. The Körung process spread to Oldenburg in 1755 even though state-mandated stallion inspections were almost 100 years in the future. The results were excellent, and the products were in high demand and exported for carriage driving.
While the breeders at Celle developed a more refined cavalry mount around 1800, those of the Frisian marshlands sought out Cleveland Bays and Yorkshire carriage horses in greater numbers. The results were solid, good-natured heavy coaching horses, which were molded into a stable mare base by the mid-17th century.
Following the state regulation of stallion inspections in 1820, the breeders of Oldenburg horses formed their own registry in 1861 and the breeders of the Ostfriesen horses did the same in 1869. Both employed rigorous selection along similar breeding goals, though up until the 20th century, few breeders kept pedigrees, and many mares and stallions were unregistered. However, participation improved as the 19th century came to a close and the threat of obsoletion became quite real. At this time, technological and economic developments were rendering irrevocable changes for the horse. Suited for the simple labor of unmechanized agriculture, the horses were now overshadowed by the versatile, powerful horses of Hanover, England, and Normandy.