Hailing from Czech Republic, the Kladruber is a majestic and iconic horse that has been around for centuries.
Though they are not as well-known as other horse breeds, they are definitely worth learning about.
This article will provide you with everything you need to know about these beautiful animals, from their history and characteristics to where you can find them today.
So if you’re interested in horses, or just want to learn more about this unique breed, keep reading!
Kladruber Breed Info
Here are some of the key things you need to know about the Kladruber:
|Height (size)||16.2 – 17.0 hands high|
|Colors||Always gray or black without markings|
|Country of Origin||Czech Republic|
|Common Uses||In harness, for light draft and agriculture work, can be seen at the international levels in the sport of combined driving|
Kladruber Facts & Information (Breed Profile)
With a history spanning more than 400 years, Kladruber horses are the oldest native breed of horses in the Czech Republic that were developed specifically for pulling the coaches of emperors and monarchs.
The National Stud at Kladruby nad Labem in the Czech Republic has been the primary breeding facility and studbook keeper for the Kladruber breed for over 400 years.
Horses from this stud were used by the imperial courts of both Prague and Vienna for nearly four centuries, from 1579 until 1918.
Kladrubers were bred to be heavy carriage horses for the court of the House of Habsburg.
Gray horses were used by the imperial court for ceremonies, and black horses were used by church officials.
The foundation of the breed may be traced back to imported horses from Spain and Italy, which were then bred with Neapolitan, Danish, Holstein, Irish, and Oldenburg blood along with the heavy local Czech breeds.
During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), the stud was evacuated to Kopany in Slovakia, and Enyed in Hungary.
Kladruber in the 20th Centur
The fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 presented a danger to the Kladruby stud farm, which had been in the Imperial family’s possession for the previous 339 years.
When Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, there was a strong anti-Habsburg sentiment, which led to some resentment against the Hapsburg-founded Kladruby stud.
As a result, there was a sharp decline in the number of stud farm horses in 1918 and 1919.
Fortunately the population of gray horses was not affected, but the black horses faced serious challenges, and after just a few years there were only 20 black horses remaining in the Czechoslovak Republic.
However, professor Bilek gathered the few remaining animals and began breeding a new line of black Kladruber horses.
Luckily, it was quickly discovered that the Kladruber horses were required for ceremonial reasons even in the newly formed Czechoslovak Republic, and the old Imperial Court Stud Farm was, under the new political structure, retained as a state corporation (the State Stud Farm Kladruby nad Labem), which operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Tillage.
The carriages pulled by Kladruber horses accompanied the audiences of new ambassadors, the inauguration of the President, and other important occasions such as for example the many state visits to the newly founded republic during the time when Tomáš G. Masaryk served as the first President of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918 – 1935).
Following WWII, the stud farm was incorporated with the State Breeding Farm.
Around the middle of the twentieth century, the manor house grounds became the site of an agricultural training school with a focus on horse breeding.
Kladruber Horses in the 21st Century
Nowadays, the National Stud is home to around 500 horses.
Kladruby nad Labem, a historical place, breeds 250 grey Kladrubers, whereas Slatiany, around 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Kladruby nad Labem, breeds 250 black Kladrubers.
Today, there are probably about the same number of gray horses as black ones, but there is a wider variety of physical characteristics among the black horses.
Therefore, more so than with gray horses, they must be carefully selected.
The original role of the Kladruber horse was restored in 1994 when some horses were placed at the service of the Danish royal court.
The National Stud in Kladruby nad Labem is one of the world’s oldest studs. It is located around 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Prague and spans about 3,000 acres to the north of the river Elbe.
As an exceptional example of equestrian cultural development, UNESCO added the Imperial Stud Farm and its surroundings to the World Heritage List in 2019.
Today, the breed is rare with around 1,200 individuals in existence.
On rare occasions, the Kladruber is also crossed with lighter breeds to create a more suitable riding horse, often for dressage.
If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating breed, keep reading!
The head features a convex profile or a Roman nose, retained from their Baroque ancestors.
The upright shoulders, the long back, and the short croup allow for high stepping, elastic gaits desirable in driving horses.
The neck is strong, arched and set high.
The chest is deep and broad, and the legs are sound with big joints and big hooves.
The mane and tail are thick and flowing.
Always gray or black without markings
16.2 – 17.0 hands high
Average 1320 lbs (600 kg)
In harness, light draft and agriculture, and can be seen at the international levels in the sport of combined driving
High-stepping, elastic gaits
Country of Origin
Spanish horses, Italian horses, Neapolitan horse, Danish horses, Holsteiner, Irish horses, Oldenburg, some heavy Czech breeds