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Holsteiner - Horse Breed & Info

Characteristics of the Holsteiner HolsteinerArticle and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

The Holsteiner stud book was recognized in America as early as 1892. This is hardly surprising when one realizes that this horse has been selectively breed since the 1300’s.


The ancestors of today’s Holsteiners were the Great Horses of Europe, who carried into battle the heavy knights in armour all during the Middle Ages. However, through the centuries this horse was cleverly adapted to meet all the various uses demanded of it.

One of Germany’s oldest breeds of warmblood was once under the management of monks in monasteries. As the need for the great warhorses declined, the Holsteiner was still needed and greatly valued for work in the fields. Later private breeders took over.

At first both Arabian and Andalusians stallions were crossed with native mares in the Schleswig-Holstein region of early Germany to produce the Holstein horse. As the need for harness horses increased the British Yorkshire Coach horse and the Cleveland Bay were used to adapt the Holstein into a fine, high motioned carriage horse.

As society progressed and desired a good riding horse also, Thoroughbred and Selle Francais blood was introduced in crosses to produce the modern day look and useability of the horse from Schleswig-Holstein.

The Holsetiner stud book is one of the smallest in Europe, but they have produced a very high percent of international and Olympic champions! Uniquely, in Germany, Holsteiner mares were and are registered based on a strict set of criteria which means mares and their origin can be traced with exactness and the breeding program contains a very high consistently bred mare potential. Mare lines are traced and handed down to daughters from generation to generation. Holsteiners are bred to perform.


The Holsteiner is a heavier type than the Hanovarian and perhaps a little larger than an average rider would find totally necessary. A three year old is, on average 16 hands high or a bit over. However, their versatility and their kind temperaments make then excellent all purpose horses.

The breed is strong and muscular with a deep, wide chest. They are a sensible, bold horse and have all the characteristics of a great hunter.

The past and continuing successes of this centuries old Holstein type of horse, in international competitions of the highest level, has been proof enough of the valuable and dependable characteristics of this oldest of warmbloods.

The Holsteiner has a proportionally small head, with large bright, but kind eyes. The neck is long, as a good all purpose horse’s neck should be, for balancing over terrain and jumping, but it has a natural arch.

The shoulder is long and slopes well. The legs have strong bone, big clean hocks, flat knees, and short cannon bones. Forelegs are well apart With a naturally arched neck and a tail carried well, this horse moves proudly and when he moves, the reasons for his reputation in Olympic sports is immediately understood.

With a lovely free going stride, the Holsteiner covers ground well and easily and has great endurance to partner an elegance, proud way of going. The canter is easy, balanced, smooth and straight.

They have a willingness and the conformation to do, with great capacity to perform.

This horse in Germany, has long carried a brand that is a hallmark of it’s ancestry, and this practice dates back to the period of the Great Horse. Even in American, to carry this brand, a horse’s sire or dam must be registered by Germany

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