Oldenburg breed information
Oldenburg horse general information
COLOROldenburgs are found in a variety of colors, but are usually black, brown or gray.
SIZEThe appearance of an individual Oldenburg can vary, and it is usually better to describe any warmblood horse breed by its actual parentage. However, Oldenburg is known for producing among the most "modern" examples of riding breeds of horses: expressive heads and long legs. Otherwise, they are selected to fit the model of a sport horse, generally built uphill with a reasonably long neck and a long, moderately-sloped pelvis. Ideally, they stand between 16.0 and 17.2hh.
USESUnless directly sired by a Thoroughbred, most Oldenburgers are too slow for eventing. All the same, in 2006 the Oldenburg Verband was #11 in the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) ranking of studbooks with the greatest prevalence in international eventing. One of the earliest Oldenburg horses to reach the highest echelons of sport was Volturno, a black stallion born in 1968, member of the 1976 silver-medal German Olympic eventing team.
Especially with the implementation of the Oldenburg Jumper Studbook in 2001, Oldenburgers have been very successful in the sport of show jumping. Bred to be courageous, cautious, powerful, scopey, and correct over fences, the Oldenburg Verband was #7 in the WBFSH ranking of studbooks in show jumping. Thanks to the likes of 2006 World Cup champion Sandro Boy and Arko III, only the Westphalian, Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood and jumping-focused Holsteiner, Selle Francais, and Belgian Warmblood had stronger showings in international sport.
The Oldenburg has become particularly successful in dressage, owing much of its continued success to sires like Donnerhall and now Sandro Hit, who top the rankings in the production of dressage horses. In 2006, Oldenburgers were the third most successful breed in the dressage ring, with only the Hanoverian and Dutch Warmblood breeds having higher WBFSH standings. Oldenburg horses who have competed in Dressage at the Olympics include Relevant, Gestion Bonfire, and Ranier.
The Oldenburg is a good example of a breed which has undergone many changes in order to keep up with the times. Originally used as a coach horse in the 17th century, the (Old Type) Oldenburg also met the various needs of German farms. As industrialization caught up with the horse it was infused with heavier blood to become a utility horse capable of working as a work horse. Again, times changed and a more refined horse was desirable. Thoroughbred and Anglo-Norman blood were introduced to produce the (Modern Type) Oldenburg which has developed into a competition breed, excelling at dressage and driving.
This is the tallest and heaviest of German warmbloods. It stands between 16.2 and 17.2 hands high. Colors range between gray, black, brown, bay, but rarely chestnut. The modern Oldenburg has an average sized head with flared nostrils and pricked-up ears. The body is strong as are the hind quarters.
Up until the 17th century, horses in the region of Oldenburg were likely small and plain, but strong enough to be used to work the heavy soil of the Frisian coast. These horses would become the foundation of the Oldenburg's neighbors from Holstein to Groningen. One of the first to take a vested interest in organized horse breeding was Count Johann XVI (1540-1603). Johann XVI purchased high-class Frederiksborgers from Denmark, refined Turkish horses and powerful Neapolitan and Andalusian horses for use with his own breeding stock. His successor, Count Anton Gunther (1583-1667) not only brought back from his travels the most desirable horses of the time, but made the stallions available to his tenants.
Rigorous stallion inspections were held beginning in 1715 in Ostfrisia, and spread to Oldenburg in 1755. Such inspections became mandatory under state regulation in 1820. These processes enabled breeders to mold the horses quickly to suit the market. In time, the Oldenburg and its neighbor the Ostfriesen became "luxury horses," stylish, high-stepping carriage horses, though they were practical farm horses as well. What set the Oldenburg and Ostfriesen apart was the lack of a state-owned stud farm. As private breeders, mare and stallion owners had and retain greater freedom in purchasing breeding stock, and as a result Oldenburg and Ostfriesen horses were exported far and wide. In 1923, the Ostfriesen studbook and Oldenburg studbook merged to form today's Oldenburg Horse Breeders' Association (GOV).
All the roles that the Alt-Oldenburger played - carriage horse, artillery horse, farm horse - were overtaken in succession by mechanization during the 1940s and 50's. However, increased leisure time and expendable income set the stage for recreational riding to come into its own, which it did. Oldenburg breeders changed direction, moving towards producing riding horses of the same renown as their carriage horses.
The first foreign stallion imported to improve the riding horse qualities of the Oldenburg mares was Condor, a dark bay Anglo-Norman. He was followed by Adonis xx in 1959, this time a full Thoroughbred. A veritable slew of Thoroughbred sires were approved for Oldenburg mares over the next 15 years: Manolete xx, Miracolo xx, Guter Gast xx, More Magic xx, Makuba xx, and not least of all, Vollkorn xx. Vollkorn xx produced one of Oldenburg's first international sport horses: Volturno, out of a Manolette xx daughter, was a member of the Olympic silver medal-winning Eventing team in 1976.
1898 lithograph of a carriage-type Oldenburg showing both hip and neck brands Condor's success encouraged the Oldenburg breeders to choose French sires over German ones. Prominent among these were Furioso II in 1968 and Futuro in 1969, both by Furioso xx, Tiro, and Zeus, who was by French Anglo-Arabian Arlequin x. There was also the Trakehner, Magister, though Trakehners were not used in Oldenburg to the same extent that they were in neighboring Hannover. In 1972 added flair came to the Oldenburg from the French Anglo-Arabian stallion, Inschallah x, who donated his expressive gaits and dry features to his offspring.
And technology continued to change the Oldenburg. Advances in artificial insemination techniques meant that stallions did not have to be nearby to be part of the breeding population. Since the 1970s, use of horses from Europe has increased exponentially. German Warmbloods like the Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Westphalian, and Trakehner, in addition to Dutch Warmbloods and Selle Francais continued to modernize the Oldenburg.
The slogan of the German Oldenburg Verband is that "Quality is the only standard that counts," evidenced by their liberal acceptance of a wide variety of pedigrees and colors. Unlike other registries that are limited to locally-bred horses, or which prefer one color to another, the modern Oldenburg selects stallions and mares based only on their quality as dressage and jumping horses
Oldenburg fun facts
The Oldenburg matures early, particularly for such a large horse. Because of this, the horse is known to be kind, yet bold.