Holsteiner breed information
Holsteiner horse general information
COLORHolsteiners were dark-colored and minimally-marked. This tendency has evolved into a preference for black, dark bay, and brown, though lighter shades such as chestnuts and grays are also permitted.
SIZEBetween 16 - 17 hh
ORIGINThe Holsteiner horse originated in the Schleswig-Holstein region of Northern Germany. The elegant driving horses of the 1800's were produced through infusions of Yorkshire Coach Horse and Cleveland Bay from the importation of stallions of those breeds. In response to the shift toward the breeding of horses especially suited to the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and show jumping, the Holsteiner Verband brought in English Thoroughbred, Anglo Arab and Selle Francais stallions to modernize the Holsteiner type.
USESThe Holsteins represent a large proportion of successful show jumpers in particular. Holsteiners are also excellent show hunters and hunt seat equitation horses in North America, and there are numbers of Holsteiners on the international scene in dressage, eventing, and combined driving.
INFLUENCEYorkshire Coach Horse, Cleveland Bay, English Thoroughbred, Anglo Arab and Selle Francais
TEMPRERAMENTThe Holsteiner breed of horses has dependable and relaxed personality
Before the onset of mechanization, these horses were used in agriculture, as coach horses and occasionally for riding. The closed stud book and careful preservation of female family lines has ensured that in an era of globalization, the horses of Holstein have a unique character. While the active gaits, arched neck, and attractive manner in harness of the early foundation bloodstock has been retained, the breed survived because of the willingness of its breeders to conform to changing market demands. The high-headed jump and leg faults were corrected with supple, basculing jumping technique and structurally correct improvement sires. The past 15 or 20 years have seen even more pronounced refinement and aesthetic appeal.
The easiest way to identify a Holsteiner is by the hot brand on the left hip, which is given to foals when they are inspected for their papers and their passport. Foals outside of the main registry can receive an alternate brand. In most cases, the last two digits of the life number are part of the brand. Many male Holsteiners have names beginning in the letters "C" or "L" due to the dominance of male lines perpetuated by Cor de la Bryére, Cottage Son xx, and Ladykiller xx. However, it should be noted that since Holsteiners from those families are used to add jumping ability to other warmblood breeding programs, non-Holstein warmbloods also often have those initials. Fillies, on the other hand, are named by year with I and J being the same year and Q and X not being used. For example, fillies born in 2008 and 1986 had names beginning in the letter "A". The use of the sire's name as part of the name of his offspring is discouraged.
The Holsteiner is the product of systematic breeding that has been ongoing in the northernmost province of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, since the thirteenth century. This area is one of the most successful horse breeding regions in Germany and the Holsteiner is one of Germany's oldest breeds of warmblood. The Holsteiner horse traces its ancestry to Neapolitan, Spanish and Oriental foundation stock that was carefully crossed with the native stock of the region. Originally the horse was valued by German farmers for its strength, steadiness and reliability, and by the military for its courage and ability.
The first written records of Holsteiner horse breeding date back to the thirteenth century when the Count of Holstein and Storman, Gerhard I, granted grazing rights to the monastery at Uetersen to the privately-owned land around the cloister. The monks continued to breed fine horses until the time of the Reformation when the properties of the monasteries were transferred to private landowners. Realizing the importance of these horses both on the farm and as dependable warhorses, these landowners continued the work begun by the monks.
As early as 1686 laws were passed in Schleswig-Holstein to insure the quality of the breed and incentives were often offered to encourage good breeding. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century the reputation of the Holsteiner breed grew throughout Europe with over 10,000 horses exported in the year 1797.
As the need for warhorses declined, British Yorkshire Coach horses and Cleveland Bay stallions were used in the nineteenth century to produce a fine, high-stepping carriage horse. After World War II, Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the breed which added refinement and jumping ability to the unique character of the Holsteiner. The breed has emerged as one of the great German sporting horses, particularly suited for jumping, dressage, driving and eventing and has been very influential the the development of other warmblood breeds.
Today, the Holsteiner can be found finishing at the top of the standings in most international equestrian eventing and driving competitions including both the Olympic Games and World Championships.
Holsteiner health and genetic issues
The Holsteiner is a strong and powerful horse. Left to his own devices, there would be very little unsoundness in this breed. The soil where they were originally bred is muddy in winter and hard in summer. This horse has had to develop robust, resilient feet and legs to survive.
However because of the enormous demands put on these horses in competition, as well as the extreme extension and collection bred into the natural gaits, there is some incidence of lameness due to tendon and suspensory troubles. Proper care should be taken to avoid these problems. Leg protection should be used when jumping, as well as wraps or boots for advanced dressage work.
Holsteiner fun facts
Approved stallions must be a minimum of 16hh and mares a minimum of 15.2hh.
Holsteiners make up only 6% of the total European horse population