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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Dutch Tuigpaard (Tuigpaard)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Dutch Tuigpaard (also known as 'Dutch Harness Horse') is a Dutch breed of a fine harness horse. It is famous worldwide for its slim conformation, high-stepping trot, upright posture, and excellent performance in fine harness shows. It should not be confused with the Dutch Warmblood.

The beginning of the Dutch harness horse:
Carriage horses with a pronounced trotting gait are nothing new to the Netherlands, a country that was known to produce good trotters from medieval times. These horses pulled carriages and carts in a fashionable manner, in addition to fulfilling their role in the family's farm. Among these horses were Gelderland horses.

The ancestors of the Dutch Tuigpaard are the old Gelderland breed, which was known for its elegant trot, and, starting from the second half of the 19th century, the Groningen breed, both of which were developed in the Netherlands (see the 'Gelderland' and 'Groningen' for more information).

Through selective breeding, which included the infusion of Hackney blood (see 'Hackney'), the Dutch Tuigpaard was born.

The Dutch Tuigpaard vs. the Dutch Warmblood:
Some readers might recognize the Gelderland and Groningen as the ancestors of the famous Dutch Warmblood breed, which is vastly different from the Dutch Tuigpaard. This raises the interesting question of how come that out of the same ancestor breeds came two vastly different breeds, one excels at Olympic disciplines while the other excels in fine harness?

The answer is in the selection and breeding process. In the case of the Dutch Warmblood, breeding was directed towards its athleticism as a riding horse, and therefore Thoroughbred blood was added. For the Tuigpaard, the focus was on its high-stepping trot while pulling carts, and the breed was refined using Hackney blood.

Despite being sometimes regarded as a 'type' of Dutch Warmblood, and despite being managed by the same association, the Dutch Tuigpaard is treated as a separate breed from the Dutch Warmblood. As such, it has its own studbook, its own conformation standard, its own keuring (in-hand grading) process and guidelines, and its own breeding goal (serving as a fine harness horse rather than a riding horse).

From a carriage horse to a fine harness horse:
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Dutch Tuigpaard was heavier than it is today. Its barrel was deeper, its neck was thicker, its head was heavier, and its profile was more convex, similar to the profile of the Gelderland. It was suitable for pulling the carriages of the time, a purpose for which it was widely used, and was a common breed in the Netherlands.

However, as the century progressed, two major events happened. First, cars and busses took over carts and carriages, thus rendering carriage horses redundant. Second, the equestrian disciplines of show-jumping and dressage gained popularity, thus leading breeders to prefer breeding sport horses, like Dutch Warmbloods, rather than carriage horses. These two events led to the decline of the Dutch Tuigpaard.

Salvation came in the form of a unique stallion called Oregon, who was born in 1950. With a fancy trot and a showy self-carriage, Oregon's performance in harness shows attracted the attention of the general public. He proved that the old Dutch Tuigpaard can be as eye-catching as its athletic cousin, in its own way.

Harness shows soon gained popularity, and with them the Dutch Tuigpaard which was bred to be lighter both in terms of conformation and gaits. During the following years, fresh Hackney blood was added in the form of the exquisite stallion Cambridge Cole. His son, Renovo, also grew up to be a prominent stallion that improved the Dutch Tuigpaard breed, and so did his descendants.

While Oregon can be seen as the foundation stallion of the modern Dutch Tuigpaard, these were Renovo and his descendants Fabricius and Manno that gave the Dutch Tuigpaard the slim conformation for which it is known today. Compared to its early-20th century ancestors, today's Dutch Tuigpaard has a slimmer head with a straighter profile, a lighter neck, and a thinner girth.

The Dutch Tuigpaard today:
Today, the Dutch Tuigpaard is a famous breed in Europe and, as of recent years, in the United States. It is primarily shown in fine harness, but is also ridden in pleasure classes.

In the USA, the Dutch Tuigpaard is often crossed with the American Saddlebred as part of the development of an American version of the Dutch Tuigpaard, called American Dutch Harness Horse. This breed is also found in Horse Isle (see 'American Dutch Harness Horse'.)

As mentioned above, the Dutch Tuigpaard has a slim, upright conformation. The head is light and with a straight profile, the neck is long and upright, the back is long, the croup is horizontal, the tail is set high and is held high, the legs are long, and the hooves are large. The mane and tail are finer than seen in most other breeds.

Coats & Height:
Colors: bay, brown, black, chestnut, grey.
Additionals: flaxen, rabicano, roan, sooty, white-spotted sabino, all rare patterns.
Height: 15.2hh to 17hh.

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