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Horse Articles :: Oldenburg Horse

Oldenburg Horse

Of all the horses that were registered in 1987 with the German Equestrian Federation, approximately 8 percent were Oldenburg horses but that 8 percent represents one of the top lines in Germany. The percentage is small because the Oldenburg Warmblood is bred in a small area near the modern region of Lower Saxony surrounding the city of Oldenburg and few horses are available. This breeding area is historically confined to approximately 5,400 square kilometers in the center of the Hanoverian region. However, even though it represents the smallest breeding area in Germany, the Oldenburg horse is nevertheless one of the most important.

The early Oldenburg horses were developed as carriage horses and were well known for consistency in conformation, great power, and coal black color. They were also famed for their gentle character and extreme willingness to work under saddle, in front of a carriage or in the fields. But breeders wanted a bit more from this horse, and so they combined the best of the best bloodlines from many elegant breeds, with the result being the production of a magnificent all purpose saddle horse. Today, due to natural athletic abilities, the Oldenburg Warmblood is used for show jumping, dressage, and three day event as well as occasional driving.

Unlike many other Warmblood breeds, the modern Oldenburg horse is the result of utilizing the best of all European bloodstock; and starting with Graf Johann XVI von Oldenburg (1573 1603), nearly every successive ruler has added at least one additional breed of horse to the Oldenburg Horse pedigree which was originally based on the German Friesian Warmblood horse. Graf Johann XVI von Oldenburg started the breeding farms in the Oldenburg region for the purpose of producing war horses. They were given as gifts to important rulers and war heroes. He used Turkish, Neapolitan, Andalusian, and elegant Danish stallions to improve his stable of Friesian horses, which were described as being large and strong.

When Graf Anton Gunther von Oldenburg (1603 1667) came into power, he became even more famous than his predecessor and traveled extensively throughout Europe. He brought back many elegant stallions from Naples, Spain, Poland, England, Tartary, and Barbary, but the breeds of these stallions are not on record. Unlike Graf Johann XVI, Graf Anton Gunther permitted commoners to use his stallions for breeding, and soon the 17th Century Oldenburg Warmbloods were in great demand throughout Europe. They served as elegant riding horses and tall, attractive carriage horses. King Leopold I, of the Holy Roman Empire, rode a black Oldenburg stallion through Vienna on his wedding day. His wife followed in a splendid carriage drawn by eight white Oldenburg horses. Graf Anton Gunther himself was famous for traditional dressage riding, most notably on his famous Oldenburg stallion, Kranich.

Along with the additions to the bloodlines from the Oldenburg rulers, the modern Oldenburg horses also owe some of their refinement to the introduction of the English Thoroughbred, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The German bred Hanoverian King, George I of England (1714 1727), together with his German successors to the British throne, took an interest in the horses that were bred in their country of origin and sent a large number of Thoroughbreds to Oldenburg to improve the local stock.

During the year 1820, a law was enacted that stated that only government approved stallions could be used in a breeding program, and all stallions were forbidden. The first of the stallion testings was held that year, and as part of the performance tests, they were to pull a heavy sledge at the walk; trot before a light carriage; and work at least 1,000 meters under saddle. In current performance tests, the stallion demonstrates his endurance, speed, jumping ability, general courage, manner of going and rideability. A horse that may be handsome enough to be initially approved for breeding but that does not pass the performance test can not receive final breeding stock status. Therefore, those stallions who do qualify are truly the finest representatives of the breed.

The year 1861 brought about the founding of the Oldenburg studbook; and the requirement of hip and neck branding with a Crowned O for the identification of approved, registered horses. The foundation of two horse breeding societies by the Horse Breeding Act of April 9, 1897 was another major milestone. These two societies merged in 1923 to form today's Verband der Z& #1100;chter des Oldenburger Pferdes e.V (literally: Society of the Breeders of Oldenburg Horses or Oldenburger Horse Breeders Society). By 1922, the Oldenburg registry contained 3,250 stallions and 34,000 mares.

By the 1930s, the aim of the Oldenburg breeder was to produce an all purpose saddle horse. In 1950, the French Anglo Norman stallion, Condor, (who was 62.5 Thoroughbred), was added to make Oldenburg horses even more elegant and refined and founded a new stallion line. This line produced a very consistent type of heavy, well moving, mostly black in color, well tempered Oldenburg mares. No other breeding area was able to achieve the success that Oldenburg reached with stallions of French origin; and the results of these cross breedings were then combined with even more elegant and famous sport horse type stallions from France, along with Trakehners and Hanoverians.

Most of the breeding of Oldenburg horses today is in the hands of private individuals, but closely controlled by the Oldenburg Breeding Society. Private breeders are able to travel throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, while state controlled breeding societies are limited by funding and other restrictions to their local stock. Many mare owners from the surrounding Hanoverian breeding area bring their horses to Oldenburg stallions despite the fact that breeding fees are often twice as much as those offered by government owned Hanoverians.

Currently there are around 409 actively breeding stallions in the breeding area in 122 breeding stations with approximately 7,300 registered broodmares producing 4,100 foals per year, which makes Oldenburg one of the largest German Verbands.

As a result of using the finest bloodlines of France, England, Ireland, and Germany, the modern Oldenburg is slightly taller and extremely elegant in contrast to many other German Warmblood horses. But despite its size, the modern Oldenburg is a compact horse with relatively short legs; yet a long, strong neck inherited from its days as a carriage horse; and large hooves that are able to bear the weight of such a large animal. Oldenburg horses are accepted in a variety of colors, but usually black, brown or gray are seen. The Oldenburg has kind eyes that mirror the horse's calm tractable nature. With so many different bloodlines and breeds that make up the Oldenburg Warmblood, precise confirmation takes a backseat to overall performance quality.

The secret of the horses with the Crowned O Brand lies in knowing that in Oldenburg, quality is the only breed standard that counts.

Author Resource:-> Crystal Eikanger is a writer for, classifieds of Kentucky Mountain Horses for sale










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