German horse breeds: Oldenburger
There are many different horse breeds used in the sport. One of the breeds that produces many top horses is the Oldenburger, a German warmblood horse. The Oldenburger is a good example of an ancient breed that has adapted to modern times. Many well-known sport horses are Oldenburgers. One of the most famous dressage horses in the Netherlands is an Oldenburger: Bonfire, in full Gestion Bonfire. The horse with which Anky van Grunsven won a silver medal in 1992 and 1996 and a gold medal in the 2000 Olympic games.
The Oldenburger is a large elegant sport horse with a height between 1.65m and 1.85m. The horse can certainly be called large due to this height, but despite its size it is certainly not bulky: the horse is well built, somewhat compact, with a well-formed skeleton.
The horse’s elegance is emphasized by the well-formed neck, which is long and muscular and flows nicely into the back and hindquarters. Due to its compact build, the Oldenburger has a strong back and by nature a somewhat easier collection than most other varieties. The strong hindquarters make the horse a very suitable show jumping and dressage horse.
The Oldenburger is large and imposing, but comes across as very friendly due to its friendly, intelligent appearance. The friendly, large intelligent eyes are the first to notice at the head. The head also has large heavy cheeks and fairly large ears that can hang down somewhat when relaxed.
In the dressage ring, the Oldenburger stands out not only for its build and size, but also for its resilient gaits. The walk, trot and canter are beautiful carrying and good. As mentioned above, the collection is easy to realize due to the compact construction of the Oldenburger.
The Oldenburger can have any color. However, most Oldenburgers are brown and fox and sometimes mold and black also occur as color. All solid colors are possible. Only variegated and speckled Oldenburgers do not occur. The horses are allowed to have markings on the head and legs.
All Oldenburger horses included in the studbook have an Oldenburger brand mark on the left buttock. This brand consists of a large O with a crown above it.
Despite its imposing size, the Oldenburger is a very friendly horse. The horse is very focused on people and can be called compliant and eager to learn. The horse has a good concentration and is very intelligent. This makes it a horse that is nice to work with.
Because many carriage horses have been used in breeding in the history of the Oldenburg, the horse has acquired a balanced character. The horse is therefore not frightened and reasonably cool in the head. This makes the horse not only suitable for top dressage and top jumping riders, but an amateur can also enjoy an Oldenburger a lot. Oldenburger and rider can also enjoy an outdoor ride. Due to its cool character, the Oldenburger is also excellent as a harness horse.
Over the course of history, the Oldenburger has developed from a heavy harness horse to a large, but elegant dressage and show jumper.
The history of the Oldenburger dates back to the 16th century. The Count Johann the Younger, an avid horse lover, ruled the Oldenburg area in the German Federal Republic at that time. The count crossed Friesian horses in such a way that heavy war horses were created.
The Count’s son, Anton Gunther von Oldenburg, continued breeding his father. He brought new blood into breeding by bringing several horses home on his travels. For example, it was crossed with Neapolitan, Spanish, Polish, Turkish, Danish, English and North African animals. A beautiful type of horse was created, with which Gunther garnered a lot of admiration. The gray stallion Kranisch, ridden and bred by Gunther himself, in particular garnered a lot of admiration. The horses clearly had Spanish features and were stately build. They were used as war horses as well as for the carriage and for classical dressage.
After Gunther’s death, breeding came under Danish rule, who preferred to have many horses for the army, rather than high-quality horses, as Gunther had in mind. The horses became less elegant, heavier horses were bred more and more.
At the beginning of the 19th century, attempts were made to improve the quality of the Oldenburger by breeding again with Spanish, French and English horses. Berber blood was also introduced. The Oldenburger type bred was called the Oldenburger Karossier.
After the Second World War, most harness and carriage horses were replaced by motorized vehicles, reducing the demand for heavy cold-blooded horses. As a result, the studbook started to focus more on breeding warmblood horses, riding horses for the sport. The studbook then chose influences from Spanish horses, Berbers, Neapolitans, Cleveland Bay, English Thoroughbreds and Hanoverians, among others. As a result, the Oldenburger has become more of a riding horse than a carriage horse. However, the Oldenburger remains the breed with the most robust build of all German Warmblood horses.
In 2001 a split-off studbook was created especially for Oldenburg jumpers. Since 2011, both organizations have reunited in the umbrella ‘Oldenburger Pferdezuchtverband eV’