The Oldenburg is a warmblood horse from the north-western corner of Lower Saxony (a German state (Bundesland) situated in northwestern Germany) what was formerly the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. The breed was built on a mare base of all-purpose farm and carriage horses, today called the Alt-Oldenburger. The modern Oldenburg is managed by the Association of Breeders of the Oldenburger Horse, which enacts strict selection of breeding stock to ensure that each generation is better than the last. Oldenburgers are tall sport horses with excellent gaits and jumping ability. The breeding of Oldenburg horses is characterized by very liberal pedigree requirements and the exclusive use of privately owned stallions rather than restriction to a state-owned stud farm.
Of all the horses registered with the German Equestrian Federation in 1987, approximately 8 percent were Oldenburgs. The Oldenburg registry represents one of the top lines in Germany. The percentages are somewhat skewed as to Oldenburgs, due to the fact that the region in which these horses are bred is a small one and therefore produces fewer absolute quantities of horses than other registries. While representing the smallest breeding area in Germany, Oldenburg is nevertheless one of the most important.
The Oldenburg breed’s conception began with Count Johann XVI von Oldenburg in the late 1500’s. He based the breed on the Friesian (primarily a harness horse) as a foundation for a lighter horse also suitable for riding. His successor, Count Anton Gunter von Oldenburg, refined the breed by infusing blood from lighter horses coming from such places as Spain, Turkey, Italy and England.
The modern Oldenburg can best be identified by the “O” and crown brand on the left hip. Horses of the “Oldenburg International” program have a similar brand, with an “S” within a crowned, incomplete “O”. Underneath the Oldenburg brand are the last two numbers of the horse’s life number. A digital micro-chip implanted in the crest of the neck is another identification method used.
The appearance of an individual Oldenburg can vary, and it is usually better to describe any warmblood by its actual parentage. However, Oldenburg is known for producing among the most “modern” examples of riding horses: expressive heads and long legs. Otherwise, they are selected to fit the model of a sport horse, generally built uphill with a reasonably long neck and a long, moderately sloped pelvis. Ideally, they stand between 16.0 and 17.2hh.
They are fairly “easy keepers” for such a large breed, and tend to be relatively easy to handle. Even so, this is an energetic and athletic horse which needs plenty of exercise and attention. The Oldenburg’s natural curiosity can easily get him into trouble, so care must be taken to keep his living quarters safe and his environment interesting.
- www.oldemburghorse.net (The Oldemburg Breeders Society)