Warmblood Horse Breeds

The Hanoverian

The Hanoverian is a very old breed and has been carefully bred by the Germans for around 300 years. Although the foundation stock were rather ordinary, careful selection of 'improver' breeds has resulted in a very useful and attractive animal.

Early infusions were from oriental and Spanish breeds. Later, Holstein, Thoroughbred, Cleveland Bay, Andalusian, Arabian and Trakehner blood has improved the breed.

Hanoverian StallionCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:RCMP_Farm_Hannoverian2.jpg

During the 17th century, three types of horses were being bred for the military in Germany. The three breeds were the Danish, the Mecklenberg and the Hanoverian. All three were rather heavy types. Then the House of Hanover ascended the British throne. Prince George Louis, Elector of Hanover, was crowned King George I in 1714 and, 123 years later, the last of the Hanovers, William IV, died. During this time, English thoroughbreds and Cleveland Bays were sent to Hanover to be mated and to produce horses suitable for agriculture and coaching purposes.

George II founded the national stud at Celle. Fourteen black Holstein stallions were kept at the stud. The Holsteins brought size, a proud carriage, lofty action, strong hindquarters and agility to the heavy Hanoverians. In a bid to produce still lighter carriage horses, thoroughbred blood was introduced and the progeny were shipped back to England to draw the royal carriages. By the end of World War II the heavy Hanoverian was obsolete. Leisure and competition riding became popular and the Hanoverian was again adapted to meet the demand for a light competition horse. Thoroughbreds and Arabians were again introduced and today's superb animal resulted.

Hanoverian - dressageCredit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WC07d.JPG

The Hanoverian is one of the most mixed blood breeds of the world. Nowadays, demanding selection tests are held and one of the main criteria for approval is an equable disposition. Any horse of doubtful temperament is culled. This calm temperament plus the free, supple action suits the breed admirably for dressage. Today's Hanoverian must display pride and self-confidence without being 'hot' or difficult to handle.

Hanoverian (Allen Breed Series)
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The Hanoverian is the ideal mount for
serious competitors in the fields of
dressage, show-jumping and eventing.

The Hanoverian has good flexion of the knee and hock, attributes which suit it to dressage and show-jumping. Only those Hanoverians which have a large amount of thoroughbred blood are fast enough for eventing.

The Hanoverian has a medium size head with a straight or convex profile. The ears are of medium length, fine in texture and pointed. The eyes are set well to the sides of the head and are expressive and large. The neck is medium to long and well developed. The withers are quite pronounced and the shoulders well-muscled. The back is sometimes rather long but is strong with muscular loins and quarters. The limbs are well-defined with big, flat joints. The upper limbs are long but the cannons short with sloping pasterns. The feet are well-formed and hard. The legs of the Hanoverian are particularly good. It has an elastic, long-reaching stride.

Storey's Illustrated Guide to 96 Horse Breeds of North America
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The Hanoverian has established itself
in many countries outside its native Germany.

The Hanoverian comes in all solid colours and often has a lot of white on the legs, and sometimes on the face. They average around 16hh in height and range between 15.2hh and 17hh.

Overall the impression is of a medium to heavyweight thoroughbred or hunter type. It is one of the most mixed blood breeds in the world but this doesn't stop it being a major contender as a dressage, show-jumping or competition horse.