HanoverianFamily: EquidaeEquus caballusPhoto © Animal World: Courtesy Sandra Lloyd
The Hanoverian is considered to be one of the most successful of the warmblood breeds in the world!
The Hanoverian is a warmblood breed; warmbloods being a mix of light and heavy horse. It is one of the oldest and most numerous of the warmbloods. Its history goes back to 17th century when Spanish, oriental, and Neapolitan stallions were imported to Germany. They were bred with local mares, possibly with some early warhorse ancestry, and here developed the Holsteiner.
The Hanoverian was originally bred by George II, who was the King of England and Elector of Hanover. From a select 14 Holsteiner stallions he founded the Stallion Depot at Celle, in lower Saxony, Germany. He introduced some Thoroughbred blood to lighten the horses' build and supply stamina. The horses developed from his breeding program were to be used primarily as carriage horses, cavalry horses, and also to work in the fields.
In later years even more Thoroughbred blood was introduced, and the breed became still lighter and more agile. Graceful in movement and athletic, they excel in sport horse competition. The Hanoverian has won gold medals in show jumping, dressage, and eventing at the Olympic games, and it is considered to be one of the most successful of the warmbloods.
Today its breeding is highly regulated by the Society of Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders in Hanover, Germany. The stallion depot at Celle is maintained by the federal government of Niedersachsen.
The Hanoverians are a light horse breed. These light horses are also referred to as a warmblood or 'hot-blooded' horse. Light horse breeds generally weigh under 1,500 pounds. They are typically used as riding horses for leisure and trail riding. Being agile and swift, many are also used on the racetrack, in the show ring, and for work on the ranch.
Light horses are grouped in a couple of different ways, one being the continent or country where they originated from. They are also grouped according to training, classified as either a stock type, hunter type, saddle type, or 'other'. A body type is generally attributed to each class, with the 'other' classification being a bit of an odd ball. It includes those that are color breeds or those that may fit a body type of one of the training classes, but not be used for that type of training. In some cases the 'other' types can also include those that may fit into more than one of the type groups.
The horse class the Hanoverian fits into is the 'other' type class as there are heavy Hunter types with great jumping ability, and lighter Saddle types well suited for dressage or pleasure riding.
The Hanoverian traces its history back to the 17th century when Spanish, oriental, and Neapolitan stallions were imported to Germany to breed with local mares, creating the Holsteiner. George II, who was the King of England and Elector of Hanover, founded the Stallion Depot at Celle and selected 14 of these Holsteiners for his breeding program. He introduced Thoroughbred blood to lighten the horses' build and supply stamina. The Hanoverians were intended to be used as carriage horses, for cavalry mounts, or for agricultural work. Detailed pedigrees were kept from the beginning and the horses were branded with a stylized letter ‘H'.
During the Napoleonic wars, the stock at Celle was depleted with only 30 remaining stallions. Thoroughbreds from England were used to replenish the stock, and while previously the amount of Thoroughbred blood was limited to 2-3% to keep the horses from being too light, the influence had risen to about 35% and the horses were too light to do the agricultural work for which they were originally intended.
Hanoverian breeders attempted to standardize the breeding of the heavier type by using indigenous Hanoverian lines, but after the Second World War the use of horses in agriculture declined and many breeders began to produce competition riding horses. The Hanoverians of today do not show the high knee movement of the original Hanoverian carriage horse and are much lighter than the original. They are highly renowned competition horses in show jumping and dressage.
The breeding of Hanoverians is currently regulated by the Society of Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders in Hanover. The stallion depot at Celle is maintained by the federal government of Niedersachsen.
Hanoverians are 15.3 to 16.2 hands high on average. They tend to have a light, medium-sized head with a long neck and big, sloping shoulders. They are fairly muscular with a flat croup and powerful limbs, with good bone length below the knee on forelimbs.
They come in chestnut, bay, black, brown, and grey. Interestingly, regulations prohibit horses with too much white, and buckskin, palomino and cremello horses from being registered.
Hanoverians require a larger amount of feed than most horses due to their larger size.
They are the most successful warmbloods in the world and excel in sport horse competition. They are extremely talented jumpers and have the carriage and active gait to be beautiful dressage horses.
Hanoverian's are known for their incredible strength and stamina, they are generally a sturdy and hardy horse.
Hanoverian's are very expensive and are harder to obtain than other breeds because they are very desirable horses and their breeding is so strictly regulated.
The Society of Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders in Hanover oversees the breeding and registering of Hanoverian horses and allows national Hanoverian societies in other countries to register horses as long as they meets the Society's standard. Before a horse can be registered as a Hanoverian, it must be inspected by a representative of the national Hanoverian society. The test will examine the conformation, type (how closely it fits the ideal for the breed), and athletic performance of the horse.
Maria Costantino, The Handbook of Horse Breeds, Barns and Noble, 2004
Author: Sandra Lloyd