Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Holsteiner (Hols)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Holsteiner (also known as Holstein) is the oldest German warmblood horse breed. Holsteiner horses were first bred in the 13th century, in the Schleswig-Holstein region in northern Germany after which they were named. These horses were well-liked by farmers, since they were excellent farming horses, as well as by landowners, since they were superb cavalry horses.

In order to maintain and enhance the positive qualities of the Holsteiner horse, breeding laws were passed in 1686, which ensure a proper breeding process. These rules were proven successful, and the Holsteiner breed became known throughout Europe, which led to Holsteiner horses being exported to other European countries during the 17th and 18th centuries. Other countries soon started regulated breeding programs for their imported Holsteiner horses, with strict standards for the breed. In France, for example, stallions had to be at least 15.2hh tall, and had to have sired at least 15 foals in the previous year, before being granted official permission to serve as Holsteiner studs.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the demand for cavalry and farming horses declined, while the demand for impressive-looking carriage horses and for athletic sport horses increased. In order to refine the conformation and abilities of the Holsteiner horses to match these demands, Cleveland Bay and Thoroughbred horses were crossed with Holsteiner horses. The first combination generated fine carriage horses, while the second combination generated fine jumping horses.

In the 1950s, it became clear that Holsteiner horses will no longer be required for farming or for pulling carriages. Therefore, the Holsteiner breeders had to transform the Holsteiner into a superb sport horse, or risk the breed going extinct. As such, they decided to cross their Holsteiners with Thoroughbreds, in order to generate Holsteiners that are superb jumpers. This process was successful, and today this new type of Holsteiner horse, known as the "Modern Holsteiner", is considered one of the best sport horse breeds in existence.

Holsteiners are primarily used for show-jumping, dressage, eventing, and driving. Being very athletic horses, who are also gifted jumpers, it is not surprising that Holsteiner horses were used in the creation of other sport horses. Today, many of the World Champions and top Olympic horses are of the Holsteiner breed, and many more are European warmbloods that have Holsteiner ancestors.

Holsteiner horses come in the coat colors of chestnut, bay, black, and grey. The minimal acceptable height is 15.2hh for and 16hh for stallions. Most Holsteiner horses stand between 16hh to 17hh.

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