Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Dole   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Dole (also known as 'Dolehest' and 'Dole Gudbrandsdal') is a Norwegian draft and trotting breed.

The Dole originated in Gudbrandsdal Valley many centuries ago, where it served as a farm horse. Today, these draft Doles are called 'Heavy Doles'. Starting from the second half of the 19th century, national shows for Dole horses started to take place in Norway, and this encouraged breeders to be even more selective about the stallions that they choose for their mares. In addition, during these years, breeders began to develop lighter Dole horses who excel in trotting races, thus creating a new subtype of the Dole breed. Today, this subtype is called 'Dole Trotter'.

Starting in the 1920s, harness trotting races for Doles became more common, and that encouraged breeders to breed Dole Trotters. Therefore, as part of the Dole shows, Dole Trotters were tested for their speed, and only those who reached above a minimal speed were allowed to breed. This form of selection still takes place today, because Dole Trotters are still used for harness racing.

While Dole Trotters became more and more popular in Norway, this wasn't the case for Heavy Doles, who became redundant during the 1960s due to the mechanization of agriculture and forestry. In 1967, the National Dolehorse Association was established in Norway, and one of its aims was to preserve the Heavy Dole.

Eventually, the popularity of Heavy Doles increased, and today they serve for two main purposes. First, they are used for transporting logs from forests, because they don't damage the forest as heavy machinery does. Second, they are used for pulling sleighs and carriages during celebrations or for tourism.

Dole horses are small yet muscular draft horses, who usually have small heads, small eyes, long backs, and short legs which are thick and strong. In addition, they have long manes and tails, and feathering which is of medium length. While the conformation of Heavy Doles and Dole Trotters can be similar due to intensive crossbreeding between these two subtypes, Dole Trotters tend to be a bit lighter than the Heavy Dole (for more info see the 'Dole Trotter' and the 'Heavy Dole.')

Dole horses are usually black, brown, or bay in color, though chestnut (which can be flaxen,) grey, dun, buckskin, and palomino occur rarely. In Horse Isle, they can also have double-cream dilutions. Dole horses stand between 14hh and 16hh.


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