Horse Isle 3: Big Book of Breeds
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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Latvian   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Latvian is an athletic horse breed that originated in Latvia in the first half of the 20th century.

The development of the Latvian breed began in 1918, when Latvia became an independent country. The original plan was to develop a native heavy-draft breed, which will be used for transportation and farm-work. While such a horse was indeed developed, the shortage in saddle horses after World War I also prompted Latvian breeders to develop a local saddle breed. Therefore, they imported Hanoverian, Oldenburg, and Holsteiner horses to Okte State Stud, where they crossed them with local heavy horses.

Starting from 1925, additional athletic saddle breeds, as well as additional Hanoverian stallions, were imported to Latvia. Most of them were brought to Svetciems State Stud, where they were crossed with Latvian mares to further refine the Latvian breed and turn it into a proper harness and riding horse. Almost three decades later, in 1952, the Latvian breed was officially recognized.

During the second half of the 20th century, the need for athletic breeds for Olympic disciplines led some Latvian breeders to improve the athleticism of the Latvian breed, by crossing Latvian horses with Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Dutch Warmblood, Swedish Warmblood, Oldenburg, Danish Warmblood, and Selle Francais horses. This created a new subtype of Latvian horse called Latvian Sport Horse. Today, this subtype is popular in Latvia, and is used primarily for show-jumping and dressage.

In parallel, some breeders continued to breed their Latvian horses in purity, thus conserving the original heavier type of the Latvian breed. Today, this subtype is known as Latvian Riding Horse (also called 'Latvian Harness Horse,') and is bred in a pure manner.

The third 'subtype' of Latvian horse is the Latvian Draft, which is a heavy draft breed that was developed in Okte State Stud alongside the Latvian Riding Horse. However, in Horse Isle, the Latvian Draft is regarded as a separate breed rather than as a subtype, because its conformation and breeding rules are vastly different than these of the two other Latvian subtypes.

In general, the Latvian has an athletic conformation which is characterized by a somewhat heavy and large head, a long neck, a long and straight back, a broad chest, and long legs. The Sport type is lighter than the Riding type, and its neck is longer and more arched.

Latvian Horses come only in the colors of bay, black, brown, chestnut, and, only in the case of sport horses, grey. Their coat is always solid, although they can have prominent facial and leg markings. They stand between 15.2hh and 17.2hh.

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