The Hanoverian Breed

Hanoverian Breed Description

Height Stallions reach approximately 15.3 to 16.2 hands high. Mares are approximately 15.3 to 16.1 hands high.
Weight Stallions weigh from 1200 to 1430 pounds. Mares weigh from 1100 to 1300 pounds.
Colour All solid colours.
Head and Neck The head is medium-sized, clean-cut, and expressive, with a large, alert eye, and good free cheek bones. The neck is long and fine, and is well placed. It is lightly formed at the poll.
Shoulders The shoulder is large and sloping, with pronounced withers.
Body The body is strong and deep through the girth. The Hanoverian boasts exemplary rib formation that is built for great strength although not necessarily for speed. The back is of medium length. The loins are particularly powerful.
Hindquarters The hindquarters are superbly muscular. Sometimes there is a flattening at the croup.
Tail The tail is well set on, and sometimes appears to be set quite high.
Limbs The Hanoverian has powerful, well-muscled limbs with large, well-pronounced joints. It has ample bone below the knee on the forelimbs.
Hooves The hooves are hard and well-formed.
Action The Hanoverian has an impressive action. It is elastic and energetic, with ground covering strides. There is no high knee action.
Temperament The temperament is equable, willing and reliable.

Hanoverian Breed History

The Hanoverian is a German warm blood horse, renowned as a world-class show jumper and dressage horse. The breed originated at the stud founded at Celle in 1735 by George II, King of England and Elector of Hanover. The stud was established with the goal of producing all-purpose agricultural horses in the area. For nominal fees, farmers were offered quality stallion services for their heavy local mares. Initially, the stud at Celle housed 14 Holstein stallions, of mixed Neopolitan and Andalusian blood. These were powerful coach horses, and for the first 30-odd years, the Holstein blood predominated. Gradually Thoroughbred blood was introduced, and the result was a lighter, better quality horse that could be used in harness, under saddle, and as for general farm work.

From the beginning, the stud at Celle registered the mares produced by the stallions, and detailed pedigrees began to be recorded by the end of the 18th century.

The stock at Celle was depleted during the Paoleonic wars. The hundred or so stallions that had resided at Celle had to be evacuated during the wars, and only 30 were returned when the stud was reestablished in 1816. To build up the numbers, horses were acquired from England and Mecklenburg, the stud to which the original stallions had been evaluated. At one point, 35% of the Celle’s stallions were Thoroughbred, and this began to have an adverse effect on the breed. The resulting horses were too light to perform the general farm work required of them. The Thoroughbred influence was thereafter reduced.

When World War I began, Celle housed 350 stallions, and by 1924, the numbers had risen to 500. A new stud was established at Osnabruck-Eversburg. The number of stallions fluctuated and fell at the end of the 1920’s, but rose to a new high after World War II, when many rescued Trakehner stallions were brought to Celle from Prussia.

As the Hanoverian lost his place in agricultural work the in post-war era, the need for the breeding program was lessened, and the Osnabruck-Eversburg stud was shut down. The increasing popularity of competitive riding revived interest in the Hanoverian, and some 200 stallions, including some Thoroughbreds and Trakehners, now reside at Celle.

The modern Hanoverian is used in the production of another warm blood horse, the Westphalian, notably at Warendorf.

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