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This foremost warmblood breed was originally bred as an all-purpose horse; working the land, and as a carriage and riding horse. It dates back to the seventeenth century when local German mares were crossed with Spanish, Oriental and Neapolitan stallions. Later members of the House of Hanover started to promote the breed and in 1735 George 11, Elector of Hanover and King of England, opened a breeding enterprise at Langestut, the state stud in Celle, Germany. Here fourteen black Holstein stallions, predominantly of Andalusian and Neapolitan blood, were installed. Other horses of English origin were later imported; including the Thoroughbred, and for a time this blood was infused in an attempt to give the breed more quality, courage and stamina. The aim was to produce an effective all rounder capable of being ridden, driven or used as a draught horse.
The Hanoverian stud was severely affected by the Napoleonic wars. Afterwards
in 1816, the stud stallions had decreased in number from over a hundred to a
mere thirty. To counteract these losses more thoroughbred blood was
introduced, but unfortunately the breed became to fine to cope with the work
that was required from it and so the thoroughbred influence was reduced.
Since the mid 1940's the demands of the breed have changed and the more
modern day aim has been towards producing a good leisure and competition
horse, therefore Trakehner and more Thoroughbred blood has been used. This
has produced an exceptional sports horse particularly for dressage and
jumping. The Hanoverian is known for its strength and stamina, a large
upstanding horse it stands between 15.3 and 17 h.h.
All solid colours are permissible, the
usual being chestnut, brown, bay and black. The head is of medium size,
clean cut with large expressive eyes and well shaped ears; the neck is long
and shapely; the withers are pronounced; it has a good sloping shoulder; a
strong deep body; muscular, rounded, hindquarters with a well set tail; the
limbs are well muscled with pronounced joints and well formed, strong, sound
hooves. It has a good honest temperament.
The Hanoverian is well known as a top class World athlete. Winning European
and World Championships and many Olympic gold medals since the 60's. It has
great strength and stamina and free, active paces making it particularly
suited to dressage and show jumping. It has found favour throughout the
world as a reliable and brilliant performance horse.