German horse breeds: Westphalian
There are many different horse breeds used in the sport. The Westphalian is one of the breeds loved in sports. This medium-heavy sport horse is widely used in both jumping and dressage. For dressage it is important that the breed has three good gaits and impresses in the dressage ring. For jumping it is important that the breed has a good strong hindquarters and good muscling. That is all present with a Westphalian. Many Westphalian horses are used in the top of dressage. One of the German top dressage horses is the Westphalian Rembrandt. This dressage legend won gold at the Olympic Games four times, twice in 1988 and twice in 1992. In the Netherlands, Amon, the horse with which Annemarie Sanders-Keijzer was very successful in the 80s of the last century, was a Westphalian top dressage horse.
A Westphalian can be described as a medium sized horse. With a height between 1.60m and 1.70m, the horse may not be the largest in the ring, but not only the size is important for a sport horse. The appearance, muscularity and construction are also important. The Westphalian is impressive due to its good muscling. The wide body and the well-formed hindquarters also help to complete the picture. The small withers make up for the Westphalian because his shoulders are well proportioned. The beautiful high tail position makes the horse proud. Finally, the Westphalian has nice dry legs with short pipe legs. In addition to the physique, the musculoskeletal system of the horse is also important. The Westphalian has a fine walk, trot and canter. These certainly contribute to the good appearance of the horse and the impression of the horse.
Most Westphalian horses will have a brown color. In addition to brown, fox-colored Westphalians are also not uncommon. Actually all colors are possible. Only pied and dotted Westphalians are not allowed from the studbook. The legs and head may of course have markings. The Westphalian has a pleasant, even character, which can also be read from the head. He has a friendly head with beautiful, large eyes that intelligently look out into the world. The whole horse radiates kindness. The head is fairly coarse, quite broad with a lot of space between the eyes. All Westphalian horses included in the Westphalian studbook have a brand mark on the left buttock. This brand has the shape of the first letter of the variety, a W. Above the W is a crown.
The breed produces relatively calm, calm horses. The Westphalian started his career as a farm horse. Strong, but also calm horses are needed for this. A farm horse had to be strong enough to plow and quiet enough not to be startled by everything. Only those horses suitable for farm work were used for breeding. The character of these horses can still be found in the character of the Westphalian
But a farm horse is not a sport horse. A sport horse also needs other qualities, such as intelligence and maneuverability. A sport horse will also need more activity. By adding Hanoverian blood to the breed, these character traits have been added to the Westphalian. The horses are known for their willingness to learn and reliability. They are also very focused on people. This has resulted in a very suitable sport horse.
The history of the Westphalian breed begins in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Horses have been bred in this region for centuries. In the early 19th century, they wanted to improve farm horses. The Landgestüt in Warendorf, the center of Westphalian breeding, was founded for this purpose in 1826. Over time, this breeding has grown into one of the largest horse breeding companies in Germany. Only the Hanoverian breeding is even bigger.
Farm horses were improved by crossing these horses with Prussian stallions. This made the farm horses less heavy and the bloodlines were improved. Other varieties were also used to make the Westphalian a bit more elegant: for example the Frisian, Oldenburger, Hanoverian, Trakhener, Holsteiner, but also Selle Français and Ango Arabians.
The horses bred up to the early 20th century were still fairly heavily built horses, well suited to the farm. At the beginning of the 20th century there was also a demand for more elegantly built, more chic horses. At that time, the breed did not meet this demand, mainly cold blood horses were bred. Most Westphalians worked in the fields or stood in front of the carriage. In order to breed more elegant horses that met the demand, the Westphalian studbook was founded in 1904.
After the Second World War there was a decline in horse breeding. Because many horses were replaced by motorized (agricultural) vehicles, the demand for cold-blooded horses fell even further. As a result, the studbook began to focus even more on breeding warm blood horses, riding horses for the sport. From that moment on, the studbook chose an influence, that of the Hanoverian. It is certainly noticeable that this has worked out well for Westphalian breeding. The breed produces relatively good sport horses. At the end of the 20th century there were many good Westphalians to be found in top sport.
- Rubinstein I.