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The Noriker takes its name from the ancient province of Noricum, which was
part of the Roman Empire when they occupied Austria. More than likely a
descendant of the ponies of the Hafling district in Austria, it is a light
to medium weight Draught horse that dates back to pre Roman times when a
heavy warhorse was bred in Thessalonica. The Romans cross-bred their
warhorses with local stock to produce the Noriker, a hardy, sure-footed
horse, with and equable temperament and well adapted to the rigours of
mountain life. It became popular throughout Europe and five different main
lines of the breed have developed, one being the Pinzgauer (once designated
a separate breed), which is a spotted horse that is now bred in Bavaria,
another being the Bavarian or South German Cold Blood. Also Andalusian and
Neopolitan blood was introduced to the breed and these different influences
probably attribute to the many different colour ranges for which it is
known; brown, chestnut - sometimes liver with a flaxen mane and tail, black,
grey, dapple, brindle and a few spotted. Too many, or too much white, in the
markings on the head and limbs is not desirable.
The breed was formalised about four hundred years ago by the Prince
Archbishop of Salzburg who began a studbook and established breed standards
for mares and stallions. Furthermore, weight pulling, walking and trotting
trials must be passed before a stallion is allowed to stand at stud.
The Noriker stands at between 15.3 to 17 h.h. and has a medium sized head
with a straight profile and kind eye; the head is well set on a medium
length neck; the shoulders are well sloped and powerful; the chest is broad
and deep; the back is medium length and muscular; the hindquarters are round
and powerful; the limbs are longish but with powerful forearms and well
muscled second thighs and large, clean, strong joints; the feet are good and
sound. The mane and tail are thick and curly.
The Noriker is a good mover with active paces and a kind and willing nature.
It is a tough horse and is particularly well suited to working in
mountainous regions from where it has evolved.