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By H. Zimmermann
The Trakehner is a
warm-blooded horse whose roots go back to the twelfth-century and the knights in
The knights who conquered the area that was later known as East Prussia brought
with them their heavy war horses that had been bred to carry a man and full suit
of armour into battle. Heavy mounts where in fashion.
In 1503, at the battle of Naples, Condottore Saguo de Cordova used more agile,
light horses of Spanish-Oriental origin and turned the battle to his advantage.
A new era began.
In 1732, King Frederick the Great chose the best horses from his royal breeding
farm in order to establish a new stud farm at Trakehnen. The objective was a
program of selective breeding of horses with endurance and a long covering gait.
In the 1800's, a few top quality English Thoroughbred bloodlines were introduced
with the goal of refining the Trakehner, yet preserving the nerve and endurance
of the Thoroughbred. Care was taken to maintain the even temperament, substance
and other quality of the Trakehner. Further refinement and elegance in the breed
came from the introduction of a few carefully selected Arabian stallions. The
Trakehner was used as a military horse in time of war, and as a sport horse in
time of peace.
Before World War II the State Stud Director in East Prussia had the foresight to
export breeding stock to West Germany. This probably kept the entire breed from
extinction in the coming war. The main industry in Prussia was the breeding and
riding of cavalry horses. Many independent breeders in the area who took their
mares to the Government Stallion Station developed this industry. It was
considered imprudent for an individual breeder to stand a stallion.
When the Soviets closed in on Trakehnen, the Prussians gathered their precious
horses and fled towards the safety in the west.
The horror story, which followed, became known as the TRACK. It was mid–winter,
the snow was deep and broodmares were heavy in foal. The Soviet troops were
burning their homes behind them and the Russian Planes were machine gunning from
the air. The Prussians could not stop when the mares foaled or horses went lame.
The nightmare continued for two and one half months and 600 miles.
When they finally arrived at the shores of the frozen East Sea and the only
escape was across the treacherous expanse of ice, they forged ahead, at times
galloping to stay ahead of ice breaking behind them. Thousands perished.
At last they limped into West Germany, 2400 beautiful horses reduced to less
than 800 skeletons, with open wounds from shrapnel and with burlap bags frozen
to their feet. Only the hardest survived. The remnants of a once royal breed had
undergone the greatest endurance test of all times. The writer’s parents left
their homeland with eight.
Trakehner horses and three wagons. They arrived in West Germany with a broken
down carriage and one lame gelding.
The post war years were spent rebuilding and re-establishing the Trakehner
breed. Because every Trakehner carried the brand of the double elk shovel on the
left hip, it made the task easier. The Trakehner soon began to reappear as a
winner at the Olympics and international Competitions.
Again the Trakehner
movement, coupled with its presence and temperament set it apart from other
THE PERIOD AFTER
When several weeks after the German capitulation mail and travel services where
resumed it soon became apparent that a number of Trakehner mares were stranded
in an area whose future was uncertain. Dr. F. Schilke, Manager of the East
Prussian Mare Registry of warm-blooded horses of Trakehner origin contacted
local Farmers Union Committees and Managers to enlist their support in the
effort to keep the mares and small number of stallions confiscated by the
British army and sold very cheaply to local farmers by their desperate owners.
With the help of the Committees and Government stallion depots, he proceeded to
register what was left of the Trakehner breed.
On the fourteens of August 1974 a small group of breeders, with the help of Mr.
H. Zimmermann of Dundas, Ontario, received Ministerial approval for the
incorporation and registration of the CANADIAN TRAKEHNER HORSE SOCIETY pursuant
to the Live Stock Pedigree Act.
By H. Zimmermann
It takes years of
experience based upon principals that have been proven to be able to judge and
select. Over 1000 books have been written since 380 before Christ about judging
Selective breeding is the culmination of centuries of research, tests, and
GENETICS play the most important role in selective breeding.
One of the known works published in Latin in 1462 – Liber Marescalsie Equorum, -
by Laurentius Rusius, teaches how to evaluate a horse. In modern times the
English translation of –Exterieur de Chaval, - by Gohaux and Barrier, is being
widely used in veterinary schools in England and all over Europe.
Selective breeding starts when one decides to bring her or his mare to a
stallion for mating. Just because your friend or neighbour owns a stallion, and
you are offered a good deal, does not mean that the mating will produce the
offspring of your dreams
It is the result of mating
that counts. While inspecting horses for registration and branding for the
Canadian Trakehner Horse society in Canada I was often asked why the Europeans
where so successful with their horses.
Selective breeding, dedication, passion and pride of achievement are the
answers. A short fad, or the outlook for a fast buck will not do it. If this is
what you are looking for, do not start, you will be disappointed. Always make
sure the stallion you are breeding to has been approved and is registered with
the breed association of your choice.
Stallion Approval in the Federal Republic of Germany
Approximately 1500 Trakehner colts are born each year. The first
inspection took place when the foals where branded while still with the mare. As
three year olds at selection # 2 they where judged for impulsion, elasticity of
movement, conformation, temperament, and overall impression. The most I have
seen approved in one year where 24. The following performance test reduced the
approval to 11.
The Influx of Nature and Feeding on the Development of the Horse
changes in the different regions we are living in have a great influence on the
development of our horses. Temperature, humidity and altitude influence the
solid matter in their blood. The lower the solid matter, the larger the cellular
tissue of flesh, bone and organs of the animal. The higher the solid matter, the
tighter the cellular tissue.
Warm or high lying
regions - high solid matter
Cold or low lying regions – low solid matter
High humidity – thin blood
Low humidity – thick blood
The quality and quantity
of fodder and water is also a factor in the development of the horse. Many a
breeder or owner has ruined a good horse by wrong feeding.
Character can be Influenced by the Horses Upbringing
Real horsemen expect good character and spirit from their horses to be able to
depend on them in difficult situations. This is only possible if they have
patience are compassionate and do not demand the impossible. To whip them or
punish in whatever way, will only make things worth.
HEAD & NECK
eye of the horse is the mirror of its soul.
The head should be lean, preferable with a straight nose line or as an Arab,
slightly dishpan, finely chiseled with prominent bones and the lines clear cut. Intelligent horses
usually have their eyes well set apart. A horse which carries his head alertly,
ears pricked forward will rarely be mean and of bad temperament. Divergence of
the lower jaw and adequate space between them testify of good development of the
The shape and carriage of the horse’s neck varies with his breeding,
conformation and training it has received.
The neck should be
slender, flexible and long, wide in the gullet and thinning down as it
approaches the head, with a slightly curved top line and a straight bottom line,
set on a broad shoulder at approximately 90 degrees.
There are different ways a horse will carry his head and neck naturally:
1. By stretching his head
forward and lengthening the neck horizontally as far as possible enables the
horse to increase his propulsion of the hindquarters to the maximum, resulting
in a fairly straight top line.
.2. Carrying his head
nearly vertical, shortening and arching the neck, the horses vertebrae becomes
compacted, allowing for more side movement and resulting in a slightly sway
3. Carrying his head and
neck slanted downward and low is the most natural and relaxed way of walking,
resulting in slightly curved top line upwards.
The horse is also using its head as a balancing tool.
SHOULDER, UPPER ARM & FOREARM
should be long, sloping and well muscled. Although the length of the shoulder
has little to do with the movement of the horse, it should be 52.5 to 55.3% of
the total length of the leg.
The development of the neck, shoulder and chest muscles, and the angle of the
attachment of the arm to the shoulder blade (90) degrees are the deciding
factor, provided the impulsion and thrust reaching from behind the hindquarters
is adequate. Without the latter, the most splendid shoulders are worthless.
Large posterior projections of the ulna in the elbow joint are desirable. The
bony processes should be slicked down and separated from the chest by at least
The foundation of the upper arm is the humerus, connecting the shoulder bone to
the knee. The triceps muscle group has the biggest influence on the position of
the humerus. The movement of the arm should be parallel to the wall of the
chest. The curvature of the ribcage is of utmost importance. A wrong curvature
of the ribs can result in a narrow or to wide a position of the legs at the
The length of the humerus can very from 30.3 to 30.9% of the length of the leg.
The forearm should be fairly long compared to the front cannon. Approximately
2:1. and like the latter should be extensive. Though it should not be hefty
muscled, the tendon must be well marked and the impression of leanness must not
The front knee and the fetlock should be large enough to provide favourable
points of attachment for ligaments and tendons. A long and elastic pastern should
make the connection between the
and the hoof.
Too steep a pastern can make a
horse practically useless. Horses with upright pasterns take short steps because
the swing to their gait is missing, and because of no phase of suspension. If
one should have the choice between a soft pastern and one whose angle exceeds 45
degrees, one should not hesitate to choose the soft one. The softer pastern
ensures a natural mitigation of the impact and promotes the coffin joint and
assists the mechanism of the hoof when landing on hard ground.
The perpendicular taken
from the shoulder should half all joints to the hoof. A hoofs space should be
withers should be high, expressive and long, gently flowing to the back.
The hoofs should be symmetrical, broad, with a hard but flexible horn
and with well developed bars and frog. The frog is nature’s shock absorber. If
the frog is poorly developed, the outside edges of the hoof will have to take
the shock and the horse cannot be expected to stand up under hard going. In
shape the bottom of the front hoof is almost round, while the hind is slightly
The chest of the horse should be deep and long, well arched, with great
curvature in the lower ribs towards the flanks. The girth should be 15-to 20 cm.
More than the height of the horse at the withers. If the breadth and the depth
of the chest are out of proportion to the rest of the body, the horse will
display a lack of maneuverability and insufficient speed.
back should be moderately long, wide and fairly straight, and must be stiff.
One should remember that only a certain length of the back makes an
unconstrained interaction through the ring of muscles from the crop through the
back, the neck and the belly possible, and allows the entire mechanism of the
horse to swing freely. The length of the back should be the combined
result of long withers, long straight breastbone and a loin of moderate length.
The hindquarters should be relatively long, especially at the distance
between the hips and the point of the buttocks, the hip joint, the hip joint and
the hock. The latter joint
be as close to the ground as possible, to provide the desired shortness of the
hind cannon bone. If the angle between the ileum and the thigh and the thigh
bone at the hip joint is less than at a right angle, the stifle joint will lie
far in front as a visible sign of the bone structure and the gluteus maxim us
muscle will act at a right angle upon the great trochanter of the thigh
and bending then occur under the best circumstances, without any loss of power,
and thus promote the gait.
To open a stifle angle interferes with an otherwise excellent freedom of
movement at the hock, renders long strides in
direction of gravity impossible, and the hindquarters drag. The hock joint is
one of the most important parts in the structure of the horse, particularly for
galloping and jumping. A horse jumps from the hock, he or she receives the
necessary spring and propulsion from this joint. Viewed from the side, the hock
joint should appear large and flat. A line dropped from the buttock should fall
one or two inches (2.5 or 5 cm) to the rear of the point of the hock and back
line of the cannon should be parallel to this line. The inside angle of the hock
should be wide viewed from the back or front. The hock should appear thick. The
cannon should be straight, not curved, nor should the chocks bend in towards
The horses tail is a most useful appendage as an indication of his breeding and
a plume of beauty. The tail also furnishes us with information concerning the
horses character, verve, constitution and degree of natural tension.
By Margaret Lima
Trakehner is the oldest of the German warmbloods. Its
pedigree dates back to 1732 when Friedrich Wilhelm I
established the famous stud at Trakehnen in East Prussia.
breeds name and bloodlines are traceable to this Trakehnen
stud. The objective was a program of selective breeding for
horses with endurance and long, ground covering gaits. But
the really important and decisive development of the breed
occurred in the early
1800's. At this time top quality English Thoroughbred
bloodlines were introduced in small quantities with the goal
of refining the Trakehner, while retaining the nerve,
nobility and endurance of the Thoroughbred. Care was taken
to maintain the even temperament, substance and other
qualities of the Trakehner. Further refinement and elegance
in the breed came from the introduction of a few carefully
selected Arabian stallions. The Trakehner continued to be
used as a military horse in times of war and also as a
working horse of East Prussian farms during times of peace.
World War II the State Stud Director in East Prussia had the
foresight to export breeding stock to Western Europe. This
probably kept the entire breed from extinction in the coming
war. The main industry in East Prussia was the breeding of
riding and cavalry horses. Many farmers in the area who took
their mares to the government Stallion Stations developed
this industry. It was considered very imprudent for an
individual breeder to stand a stallion.
the Soviets closed in on Trakehnen in January 1945, some
East Prussians fled towards West Germany taking many horses
with them. Nearly three months of hardship, a journey of 600
miles through deep snow and across the frozen Baltic Sea - a
horror story known as the "Trek" - reduced the Trakehner
contingent to about 800 mares; skeletons with open wounds
from shrapnel and burlap bags froze n to their feet. Only
the hardiest survived.
post war years were spent rebuilding and reestablishing the
Trakehner breed. Because every Trakehner carried the brand
of the double elk antler on the left hip, it made the task
of locating them somewhat easier. In 1947 the Association of
Breeders and Friends of the Warmblood horses of Trakehner
Origin (Trakehner Verband) was established in West Germany.
World War II in many countries around the world Trakehner
breeder associations have been established after breeding
stock was imported from West Germany. In Canada, the Canadian
Trakehner Horse Society (CTHS) represents Trakehner owners
and breeders. The first Trakehners came to Canada in the mid
1950's when the late Gerda Friedrichs imported four
Trakehner stallions (Slesus, Tscherkess, Prusso and Antares)
and twelve mares to her farm on Lake Simcoe, Ontario.
Trakehner of today is a large horse, standing generally
between 15:3 and 17 hands. The breed is characterized by
great substance and bone, yet displays surprising
refinement, perhaps more so than any other European
warmblood breed. It is a superb performance horse with
natural elegance and balance. The Trakehner excels in
dressage because of its light, springy "floating" trot, and
soft canter, made possible by a deep, sloping shoulder and a
correct, moderately long back and pasterns. With powerful
hindquarters, the breed also produces outstanding jumpers.
However, perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of the
Trakehner is its temperament. Trakehners are keen, alert,
intelligent, yet very stable, accepting and anxious to
Trakehner has been used to refine other warmblood breeds
such as the Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, Swedish
Warmblood, Westphalian, Rhinelander and the Dutch Warmblood.
TRAKEHNERS OF INTERNATIONAL RENOWN include: ABDULLAH,
Olympic champion , born in Ontario; the dressage horse
FABIAN (Dr Reiner Klimke), MARZOG (part-Trakehner ridden by
Anne Grete Jense) and ULTIMO (Gabriella Grillo, Gold Medal
Dressage Team '76), PIAFFE (individual gold at '72 Olympics
- Lislott Linselhoff), GASPANO and TRUE NORTH
(geldings) under Christilot Boylen and Lorraine Stubbs
BIOTOP (Dr. Limke, Ingrid Klimke), PARTOUT (Anke van
Grunsven), reserve silver team Atlanta, PERON (Michelle
Gibosn), bronze medal Atlanta, SAINT CLOUD (Karin Rehbein),
RENAISSANCE FLEUR (Monica Theodorescu), FRIEDENSFUERST
(Nicole Uphoff), MERLIN (Caroline Hatlapa), Atlanta.
ALMOX PRINTS (A. Timoschenko/Elmar Gundel) 2x Olympics,
AIRBOURNE MONTICELLO (Rodrigo Pessoa), WAITAKI (Holger
JAEGERMEISTER ll (Andrew Nicholson), bronze medal Atlanta,
BOETTCHER LONGCHAMPS (Marina Loheit), Sidney, WHITE GIRL
(Peter Thomsen)< WINDFALL (Ingrid Klimke), Sidney, BAROLO
TSF & FONTAINBLEAU (Andreas Dibowski), LARISSA (Bruce
Mandeville, CAN) successful in Sidney
Four black Trakehners (Karen Bassett) bronze medal World
Links to other
The Trakehner Horse
The Trakehner Brand