Holstein horse

Holstein horse

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Holstein horse breed originally from the state of Schleswig-Holstein, located in the north of Germany. The breed is considered one of the oldest half-bred breeds in Europe. The first mentions of the Holstein horse breed are found in the 13th century.


The breed originated on the territory of swamps, which dried up under the constantly blowing winds. The damp, sticky soil within a few hours turned into solid earth, similar to concrete. Holsteins have been known in this area since the first century AD. But they were small horses, well adapted to living in swamps.

Holsteins were used for work on the farm and in harness and were among the easily harnessed breeds. The systematic breeding of the breed began in the XIV century in the Utezen Monastery. Considering that in those days the monks were the most literate part of the country's population, they were able to breed with the correct consideration of the origin of horses and the selection of offspring.

In the Middle Ages, horses were needed for knightly cavalry, which means that small aboriginal horses were not suitable for the purpose of breeding and they had to be enlarged. Most likely, modern Holstein horses have their origin from a mixture of Germanic, Spanish and Oriental breeds, mixed with local livestock.

Later, the knightly cavalry came to naught and light cavalry appeared on the battlefield, needing not massive, but slow and quickly exhausted horses, but fast, hardy and agile. At that time, Spanish and Neapolitan horses with ram profiles and high-set necks were considered the best. The Holsteins were given the blood of these breeds. As a result, even the Spanish king Philip II willingly bought them. After the Protestant Reform, monks were removed from horse breeding.

The early Holstein horses looked something like this: a bay color with a minimum of markings and a "baroque" type.

In the 17th century, the Holstein breed became very popular as carriage and heavy-harness horses. Holstein horses with massive bones were used to transport heavy loads. In 1719, the state turned its attention to the breed and offered awards for the best Holstein stallions.

This was the birth of modern breed Kerungs. To qualify for the award, a Holstein stallion had to be at least 157 cm at the withers. The age of the applicant had to be between 4 and 15 years old. And in the previous year, at least 15 foals should have been obtained from this stallion. In 1735, 12 black Holstein stallions were purchased at the plant in Celle, which formed the basis of the future Hanoverian breed.

Nineteenth century

The development of scientific and technological progress has led to changes in European horse breeding. The massive Baroque horses were replaced by the light and fast English Thoroughbreds, which were used to improve local breeds.

The development of a network of improved roads and railways involved long horse riding trips. Accordingly, the emphasis began to be placed on elegant light-harness horses. To lighten the skeleton of the Holsteins, Cleveland Bay and Yorkshire post horses were imported from Great Britain.

On a note! Cleveland Bayers thrive to this day, while Yorkshire Postal is an extinct breed.

Yorkshire dogs were distinguished by their large stature and good endurance.

Cleveland bay horses were the horses of itinerant traders. Today these are high quality draft horses widely used in driving.

The same factors that enabled the construction of railways and improved road surfaces have also influenced horse breeding. In 1860, a state horse farm was established in Travental. As with other public stud farms in Traventhal, private mare owners were given wide access to high quality stallions. The Duke of Augustenburg paid particular attention to the importation of medium-sized Thoroughbred stallions, encouraging local residents to use them.

In 1885, a breeding program for the Holstein horses was drawn up. A graceful but strong draft horse with strong bones and powerful muscles was required. At the same time, Holstein had to possess all the qualities of a heavy riding horse.

The first Studbook was founded by economic advisor Georg in 1891. He also helped found the Riding and Carriage School in Elmshorn, which is today the headquarters of the Holstein Horse Owners' Union.

The twentieth century

The twentieth century again sharply turned the direction of breeding the Holstein breed. At the beginning of the century, it took a lot of powerful horses capable of carrying heavy artillery. The Holsteins were weighted down and the breed flourished. After the Second World War, there were 10 thousand brood mares. But already at the beginning of the 60s, this number fell by a third. Farmers abandoned horse breeding, and Traventhal's state pedigree nursery was disbanded. But instead of letting the breed die, the Board of Directors of the Breeding Union reversed the direction of the breed again.

Several Thoroughbred and French stallions were purchased for the fastest change of the breed to the requirements of the market. Holstein horses have been greatly lightened. Horses have become more agile, taller, lighter and more jumpy. This was especially important, since the kingdom of men in horseback riding had finally ended by that time and women and girls increasingly began to ride as leisure. Accordingly, beautiful and elegant horses were required.

The breeding structure has also changed. Artificial insemination has become widely used, so stud stallions are located in the central breeding garden of the Union in Elmshorn, and mares remained with small farmers, for whom horse breeding is a hobby, not a business.


The modern physical characteristics of the Holstein horse breed are such that they can compete very successfully in classical equestrian sports at the highest levels.

Holstein's height is 1.65-1.75 m. The head is large, with a straight profile and expressive eyes. Wide ganache. The neck is of medium length, powerful. Well-developed muscular withers. Powerful croup that allows Holstein to push well on the jump. Strong legs with large joints. Large round hooves. The color of the Holstein horse can be bay, black, gray or red. Buck and salted are excluded from breeding.

Interesting! Sometimes you can see the Buck Holstein, because at the beginning of the 20th century, PCI was added to the Holstein breed to lighten the skeleton, one of which was the Buck stallion Marlon xx.

Piebald Holsteins are also rejected.

Holsteins are human-centered, collaborative and stress-resistant. All this makes the breed especially suitable for beginners and insecure riders.


The Holstein's ability to jump was discovered back in the 30s of the last century, but this ability began to be seriously developed only after the Second World War. At that time, more and more show jumping competitors began to appear on horses of the Holstein breed. At the 1956 Olympics, Fritz Tiedemann won the team gold in show jumping at the Holstein gelding Meteora. In 2008, Heinrich Romeik at the Holstein Marius won the gold medal in Beijing.

The photo shows a Holstein horse during the passage of the “hunting” show jumping route.

This sport is well suited for those who do not want or cannot jump high hurdles. In "hunting" show jumping, the main thing is not the height, but the correct passage of the route.

Some of the Holsteins are still used as sleds in driving.

Although the main area of ​​modern use of Holsteins is show jumping, they also perform well in dressage. They do not reach Olympic heights in this sport. But the wide free movements allow them to compete successfully at the amateur level.


Elena Malina, Moscow

Of all the horses I jumped on, the Holsteins were the best. In Europe, the Holsteins are now competing with the Westphalian and KVPN show jumping lines, but these breeds have not yet reached us in mass quantities. And, in my opinion, even just for walking there is no horse better than Holstein. You should see this calm face, thoughtfully following the bird flying out from under your feet. It reads like this: “Why didn't you sit there? Nobody touched her. "

Alexey Yakovlev, Ryazan

As a child, I was impressed by one Holstein mare. We were teenagers then. They were amused by hanging on her neck, and she stood and did not even lower her head. And stoically endured all our entertainment. When he grew up, he decided to buy himself a Holstein horse. And it turned out that it is not so easy. To begin with, there are few of them. And besides, for some reason, the foals are not fed. I was offered two supposedly Holstein foals, but at the age of 2 there were such scruffy ones that they did not pull even on outbreds in size. But still I found one normal one. I already preferred not to think about the price. But I am very pleased with the purchase. No problem with the horse. Goes wherever you say. Jumps what you say. The main thing is to calculate the road yourself, otherwise he will go ...


Collaborative breeding of the Holstein horse has borne fruit. Today Holsteins are one of the most obedient and calm horse breeds. And since the main sphere of their application is show jumping, where the horse is required not only to follow the rider's commands, but also to calculate a lot by itself, this is also one of the most intellectually developed breeds. A well-chosen Holstein horse will be a good companion on walks and a loyal companion in competition.

Watch the video: Holsteiner Hengst Connor (December 2022).

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