Thursday, January 29, 2009

Warmblood registries today

Contango, Dutch stallionOkay, so in the last posting on warmbloods, I tried to summarize the history of the German warmbloods and how their registries arose. Whatever their differences, the registries seem to share the overarching goal of developing the ideal sport horse. What varies is how they go about this goal--and in some cases the differences are rather dramatic. If you are interested only in buying a good sport horse and don't care about breeding, you might just as well "evaluate the horse in front of you" rather than learning about the registries.

I suspect most of the folks reading this blog love learning about horses, and the well-rounded horseman or horsewoman should know something about the organizations who are breeding and developing the sport horses of the future. Why spend time spend time getting familiar with the practices of each registry? Here is a summary of a discussion on the COTH bulletin board breeding forum. In my opinion, these points illustrate why it is good to know a little about the breeding programs of each registry...

  • The Holsteiners have traditionally focused on jumping ability, but according to one breeder on COTH, "focusing on this one trait too narrowly caused them some issues - which they admitted to publicly." The AHHA has gone back to a more well rounded focus on conformation and movement. The Holsteiners have a more "closed" book, in that they are fairly restrictive on their criteria for accepting outside blood - be it TB, Arab or other WB. Like most others, they use "improvement" sires from other registries for specific traits they wish to infuse into their mare base."
  • The Hanoverians are a restrictive registry as well. In focusing on dressage, the AHA has reportedly lost its jumping focus and they now have a program to strengthen this focus.

  • The Oldenburg Society is much more open to outside blood and the Society tends to look at the "horse in front of them" more than the pedigree. They seem to welcome genetic diversity and "hybrid vigor" while the Hanoverian Society has a more breed-oriented program (less inclusive, focusing more on bloodlines). It is not unusual to find Oldenburg pedigrees with little or no Oldenburg blood. So long as the horse conforms to their desired "type," bloodlines are of secondary importance. Oldenburg horses tend to be a heavier type and the Society has historically focused on dressage and conformation than jumping ability.
  • Holsteiners and Dutch horses are thought by some to have more flexion in the hocks and knees than other registries. Both also seem to produce a long legged, shorter backed offspring when compared to the more rectangular Hanoverians.
  • Trakehners are probably the closest of the warmbloods to being a true breed. It is a closed registry, accepting only quality Thoroughbreds, Arabians and Angloarabians. Trakehners are considered to be more sensitive/hotter than the average warmblood.
I love reading this kind of stuff, and can't get enough of it! Breeding forums are a good source of morsels of knowledge, as are each registry's magazine. Talk to breeders, judges, or trainers who have amassed a lot of experience riding different horses. Some folks will tell you that you'll only get the real story from Europeans. I can believe it :-).

Chronicle of the Horse bulletin board post: Hanoverian vs Oldenburg vs Holsteiner: discusses differences among registries, how the differences originated, and how the registries are run


  1. Being that we are in North America, any chance you would do a post about the American Warmblood, Canadian Warmblood, American Sport Horse and Canadian Sport Horse registries?

  2. Interesting about the Holsteiners being used morein jumping. A number of years ago, I was watching some jumpers (local show), and saw one gal warming up her horse doing shoulder in, leg yield, instead of popping over the jumps like everyone else. He was heavier boned, and something about him looked like a Holsteiner to me. I got to speak to her, and she said the horse had been a dressage horse in Europe, and they bought him to be a jumper. He was a lousy jumper, much too collected. He just couldn't seem to let go and be scopey. Oh yes, she told me he was a Holsteiner. I wish he could have gone back to being a dressage horse. He obviously didn't enjoy jumping. And you know, you just don't see a lot of Oldenburgs in dressage do you? (I'm enjoying this breed info. I've read things like this before, but menopause has wiped my memory.)


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