Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Holsteiners: You might as well jump :-)

I never would have guessed that I'd title an article after a David Lee Roth song, but it's appropriate for an article on Hosteiners. Holsteiners compete in all disciplines, but their niche is jumping. Take a look at this amazing jumper, Diarado.

This video was posted to the Chronicle of the Horse bulletin board to demonstrate jumping talent. Diarado is being hailed as a near perfect jumper. In a recent article in the AHHA publication Holsteiner, a Dutch writer described Diarado was as "more than just complete -- he's overcomplete." I have a feeling something was lost in translation!

The Holsteiner registry is the smallest, and some say the oldest, warmblood registry. They account for only 6% of European warmbloods. Holsteiners are all around athletes, but the registry is dedicated to producing spectacular jumpers. They may not exactly dominate the sport, but Holsteiners are extremely well represented in international show jumping.

What is unique about this registry?
Even setting aside the focus on jumping, this registry seems to have a very clear vision of the type of horse it wants to produce. I found a German document that indicated that Holsteiners should have an "athlethic long-shaped and expressive riding horse" with movement that shows the "typical knee action of the Holsteiner horse." A blog post by Tom Reed of Morningside Stud gives a great insider's view (sprinkled with informed opinion) of the Holsteiner registry and breeding program. Here are some highlights from the article...
  • Holsteiner breeders deeply emphasize the influence of the motherline, and they assign numbers to the marelines. The numbers are called the "Stamm" (stem?) which identifies the mare line, and when you see Holsteiner stallion ads the Stamm number is often referenced. Reed maintains that the primacy of the motherline -- matriarchical system accounts for the success of the Holsteiner program.
  • Holsteiners can be found in almost any discipline, but the Holsteiner registry's primary goal is producing show jumpers. This is not to say they don't rise to the top levels of dressage and eventing (they do, in impressive numbers). In a time when it's trendy to specialize in dressage or jumping, the Holsteiner registry offers evidence that it's possible to breed horses that do both. Cor de la Bryere is known for siring jumpers, but he also produced World Cup dressage champion Corlandus.
  • Holsteiners have a small gene pool, and most Holsteiners carry Cor de la Bryere, Capitol I, or Landgraf I bloodlines. While introducing new blood is important to diversify the genetic possibilities, the Hosteiner registry maintains a tight control over the type and quality of outcrosses permitted.
Holsteiner inspections: The experience
Like most other registries, Holsteiners hold inspections, usually in the fall. Mares and stallions are inspected, and the format for these evaluations is similar to other registries (conformation, movement, jumping). Mares are placed in a provisional or main mare book, while stallions may be receive a temporary breeding permit (they must complete a performance test within 3 years). Foals are also inspected. The foals who participate receive a score for conformation/type and a separate score for movement. The sum of these two scores may be used to award merit foal status (12-14 points) and premium foal status (points). Foals are named according to a letter assigned for that year by the AHHA. In 2009, all foals names will begin with the letter "B."


Holsteiner Horse 2007 Breeders Guide

American Holsteiner Horse Association

Holsteiner Impulsion magazine

Holsteiner horses explored
from Equestrian Mag


  1. The video was very interesting. He certainly seemed to float over those jumps. I wasn't surprised at his bucking as his "dressage" seemed a little like a run away train. But a lovely horse. Am I wrong, or have Holsteiners become a little finer boned?

  2. Hi Stacey,

    Another very informative post in a great series exploring different Warmblood registries! What a lovely video.

    I was surprised to see one of my own photos used in your post today. The photo of the in-hand mare and foal was taken by me in September 2008 at an inspection in Kansas. I don't mind its use here on your blog, but I thought your readers might like a small clarification: that was not a Holsteiner inspection, but a GOV (German Oldenburg Verband) inspection. While it's very representative of an inspection atmosphere, those particular horses are not Holsteiners. The mare is a Westphalian and the foal is a premium Oldenburg filly. (Coincidentally, the sire of the foal does have some Acord II in his bloodlines, a renowned Holst. jumper.)

    If readers are interested in further information on those pictured horses, or on the GOV inspection, they can see the original source here:

    Thanks for your informative articles; I've been following your blog for quite some time and appreciate all the effort you put in.


  3. Great post!
    The nicest stallion I ever knew was a Holsteiner named Laredo (by Lady Killer). Just the sweetest gentleman you ever met! Built like a tank too!

  4. I keep hearing of the horse Ladykiller -- very influential stallion from what I can tell, and a thoroughbred. Imagine that! Wow, I just googled him. Check out the neck on that horse!

  5. Melissa, thanks for the incredibly gracious and understanding words about the use of the inpsection photo. I use copyright free image databases when possible, but in a pinch I use google image search for more specialized subjects. The photos are inserted so that the original image on the web is used, and if you click on them you link back to the original site. But it's a dubious practice, I know. Mea culpa. And thank you.

  6. Just to clarify: It might be that the AHHA uses set letters for the names of the foals, but here in Germany most breeders use the first letter/s in the sires name for a colt, and the first letter/s in the dams name for a filly.
    Example: I own Cargo B, purebreed Holsteiner by Carpaccio, who is by Caretino.. You get the drift. When you meet a warmblood here in Denmark and northern Germany, and its name starts with a C, it is a very very good guess that the horse is a Holsteiner, or has a Holsteiner Sire who has been approved into another registry.

    Allow me to link to a picture of my boy:
    As you can see he has the typical long body and giant Holsteiner noggin, but what you can not see is the incredibly quiet and forgiving, yet always ready mind that makes the Holsteiner my favourite Warmblood breed. This horse goes on the trails with complete beginners and takes care of them like a nanny. Despite his size (17.3 hh) anybody can ride him, and he is a real confidence-booster for the girls in the lesson barn when the ponies throw them off. (
    All in all, also taking into account the famous Marius that carried Hinrich Romeike to Olympic glory is a Holsteiner (Like three of his equine team-mates), a Holsteiner will probably be my constant companion for as long as I am able to mount a "real" horse!

  7. What a wonderful animal and partner. Stacey, thank you for all the time that you put into this blog.

    It keeps the flame of my goal to ride again going.


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.