The Holstein Horses

The Holstein Warmblood is a horse similar to the Hanoverian Warmblood, only a bit heavier. The Holstein warmblood horse can be traced back to the medieval war horses of the 14 th. century. By crossing in Spanish and Arabian blood the breed became lighter.

Holstein brand mark

The Holsteiner was bred primarily in the surrounding areas of the city of Elmshorn in the Holstein region. During the Prussian time of Holstein, the state stud Traventhal was founded in1867. In 1891 the breeders on the marshes united and in 1896 the Geest region breeders also founded a society. Of great importance was the founding of the riding and driving school at Elmshorn in 1894.  The state stud Traventhal closed in 1960/1 however and each stallion was transferred to the breeder’s association.


On the fat pastures of the marshes as well as the dry grounds of the  Geest , already many excellent horses were bred in the Middle Ages. Dukes of Holstein, Danish Kings and the monasteries sponsored horse breeding for both agricultural use and military uses. During the 16th and 17th century , both the Spanish and Neapolitan stallion was crossed in.

This dominated the appearance of the Holstein with features such as a ” Roman Nose ” and impressive size until the 19th century. At those times the Holstein warmblood was in great demand all over Europe as a carriage and riding horse particularly noted for its high knee action. The Holstein warmblood stallion influenced many local breeds or were even used as a basis. When the state stud at Celle was founded in 1735, 13 Holstein stallions were the basis of the Hanoverian breed.

Further, Holsteins warmblood horses  were used in Westphalia to improve the small local breeds and in 1780 some Holsteins were sold to Oldenburg. The Holstein warmblood horse was praised highly as a riding horse to the effect that the French bought thousands of cavalry horses in Holstein. Just before the Second World War, there was great demand for the Holstein warmblood horse in South America and other countries,  whilst in Germany he was mostly used as an artillery horse.

Today’s Holstein warmblood horse is somehow similar to the English or Irish Hunter, a powerful horse suited for show jumping as well as driving. Indeed, mainly a stallion with steeplechase success was used to keep the jumping abilities of the Holstein warmblood breed.  It was the introduction of this Thoroughbred blood in the 19th century that at last dominated the appearance of the Holstein riding horse.

Breed Characteristics

Average height : 160 to 170 cm.  although of slow growth

Coat Colour : Most commonly Bay, Dark Bay and Black.    The Holstein is heavily built, with good shoulders  and a compact rounded body, large barrel and heavy croup. The legs are short and heavily boned. He has a free action, endurance and gait and his conformation is different from that of other German warmblood horses such as the Trakehner.

Usage : All – round horse with large canter strides and enormous jumping ability.

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