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This is the heaviest of the German warmbloods tracing back to the
seventeenth century when it was based on the old Friesian horses. Developed
originally as a quality coach horse the breed takes its name from Count
Anthon Gunther von Oldenburg (1603-67) who took a leading role in the
development of the breed, crossing the local mares with stallions imported
from Spain and Italy. Over the years the Oldenburg has been upgraded and
other breeds have been introduced; Thoroughbred, Cleveland Bay and Norman.
This big upstanding carriage horse was in less demand in the early twentieth
century when motorised transport took over and so in an attempt to produce
firstly an all purpose farm horse and later a riding horse, Hanoverian and
Trakehner blood was added.
More recently a refinement of the breed has taken place by adding more
Thoroughbred and some Selle-Francais blood. This has produced a horse that
works equally well under saddle and in harness and is more than capable of
being used as a sports horse.
Prince Philip among others has favoured the Oldenburg in carriage driving
events and there are several in the Royal Mews at Buckingham palace. It has
excelled in top class dressage and show jumping events and has been exported
to many countries, being particularly popular in the United States.
It stands at between 16.2 and 17 .2 h.h. It is predominantly black, brown or
bay and has good conformation. The earlier breeding faults of a straight
shoulder and exaggerated knee action have been largely eradicated by
selective breeding. It has a medium sized head with intelligent eyes and
well shaped ears; a long strong neck; sloping muscular shoulder; a strong
deep body with a deep chest and girth; powerful hindquarters with a well set
tail; fairly short limbs with plenty of bone and large joints; It is an
early maturing horse which is unusual for such a big animal.