Hanoverian Horse Breed and History
A Hanoverian (Hann) is a warmblood horse originating in Germany, which is often seen in the Olympic Games and other difficult English style competitions, and have won gold medals in all three equestrian Olympic competitions. It is one of the oldest, most numerous, and most successful of the warmbloods. Originally a carriage horse, infusions of Thoroughbred blood lightened it to make it more agile and useful for competition. The Hanoverian is known for its wonderful temperament, athleticism, beauty, and grace.
The History of the Hanoverian:
The Hanoverian is said to have descended from the warhorse of the Middle Ages. In 1735, George II, the King of England and Elector of Hanover, founded the state stud at Celle. He began a breeding program for horses for use in agriculture and work in carriages. Selected stallions, many privately owned, were available to the local farmers for breeding. The bigger of the local mares were refined with Holsteins, Thoroughbreds and Cleveland Bays, and later some Neopolitan, Andalusian, Prussian, and Mecklenburg stock. By the end of the 18th century, the Hanoverian had become a high-class coach horse.
In 1844, a law was passed that only allowed stallions that were passed by a commission to be used for breeding purposes. In 1867, breeders started a society aimed at producing a coach and military horse, with the first stud book being published in 1888. The Hanoverian became one of the most popular breeds in Europe for coach and army work.
When the demand for Hanoverians declined following World War I, the aim for breeding became a horse that could be used for farm work, but still had the blood and gaits to be used as a riding and carriage horse. After World War II, there was a growing demand for sport horses, as well as general riding horses, and the breeding yet again was adapted. Thoroughbreds were used to refine the breed; occasionally an Anglo-Arabian or Trakehner stallion was used. The key to the success of the Hanoverian has been the rigorous selection of breeding stock, a large breed population, and the breeders' willingness to adapt to changes in demand.
Today, the Hanoverian breeders' association offers many incentives to breed the best, including the famous auctions at Verden, and extensive grading opportunities for stallions, mares and young horses. In addition, few breeds have such well-kept records, allowing the breeders to trace bloodlines over many generations, improving their changes to find the best stallion-mare match. The current aim of the breeders today is to create a noble, versatile warmblood with light, elastic, and ground-covering gaits. Whenever necessary, outside blood is brought in to improve the horse. The strict selection ensures that Hanoverians are athletic and good jumpers, for showjumping and eventing, and have the gaits for dressage.
The horses are elegant, strong, and robust. They are bred to be willing and trainable, and have a strong back, powerful body, athletic movement, and strong limbs. Chestnut, bay, brown, black, and gray are found the most often. Regulations prohibit horses with too much white, and buckskin, palomino and cremello horses from being registered. The horses can be 15.3-17.2 hands high, but most are in the range of 16-16.2 hands.