conformation elegant head with large, expressive eyes,
set on a fine, arched neck, well-proportioned body,
colour bay, few or no white markings
height 16-17 hands
uses competition, harness
The Holstein is the product of systematic breeding dating back to the 13th century, when Gerhard, Count of Holstein and Storman, bestowed grazing rights on the monastery at Uetersen. The monks continued to breed fine horses until the Reformation, when monastery properties were transferred to private landowners, who continued the work begun by the monks. Great pride was taken in selecting the best bloodlines as and keeping detailed breeding records.
The Holstein was based on Neapolitan, Spanish and oriental blood, crossed with the heavier native stock. The resulting horse was valued by the farmers and landowners for his strength and dependability, and by the cavalry for his courage and stamina. ln 1686, laws were passed and incentives were offered to ensure the breed retained its quality. The Holstein’s reputation soared through the 17th and 18th centuries – in 1797 alone, 10,000 were exported.
As the need for warhorses declined in the 19th century English Cleveland Bay and Yorkshire Coach Horse blood was introduced and the breed evolved into a smart, high-stepping carriage horse. After World War ll, Thoroughbreds were used for further refinement and to increase jumping ability – and the Holstein became the great German sports horse of today, well as being influential in the development of other warmblood breeds.
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