Westphalian Warmblood Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below
The Westphalian Warmblood is one of a number of German Warmblood breeds, which could as well all be lumped together as German Warmblood, or German Sport Horse, as they are very similar, and also mutually recognize their registered horses.
At the beginning of the 1800’s century, a number of Spanish war stallions were obtained, Neapolitans were used (which carried much Spanish blood), In 1826, the then Prussian government established a national stud in Westphalia for the Westphalian Warmbood, standing high-blooded stallions there in the hope to make Westphalia a province for the production of Remount horses. That attempt failed, because the farmers/breeders didn’t like the light-caliber stallions. East Friesians, Jutlanders (Danes), and rather heavy Oldenburgers and Hanoverians were imported, to give the Westphalian horses which at that time were still influenced by their small wild horse ancestors - more size and mass.
Native horses had made up a certain foundation stock as there were many wild, and later feral, horses in Westphalia, but it is uncertain to what degree their blood actually made it through the centuries and remained in the Westphalian warmbloods.
By approx. 1870, farmers even imported heavy draft horses from England, France, and Belgium Clydesdales, Percherons, Ardenners, Brabanters. At that time, there was a chaotic mix of breeds and strains in Westphalia and nothing resembling a true Westphalian Warmbood breed.
In 1888, a horse breeders society was formed in the north of Westphalia, an ambitious project that marked a turning point. The breeding program was geared towards a heavy, but high-quality, carriage horse, mostly on the basis of heavy Oldenburger Warmblood. More societies, or associations, were founded after this example, including some for draft horses and for light, noble riding and running horses, and the quality of the Westphalian horses generally improved.
At the close of the 1800’s as the century was about to turn, a Provincial Agricultural Society ruled that Westphalian Warmblood stallions were only allowed to cover warmblood mares, and draft mares and crossbred mares could only be bred to draft stallions.. An official inspector for livestock breeding was hired, inspection standards were layed out, inspections for stallions and mares became mandatory.
In 1904, the Westphalian Horse Studbook was founded and organized inspections, performance tests, etc.
Especially the performance tests for stallions and mares proved to be highly effective, and was adopted then by other German breed associations. The results of the heavy Oldenburger blood did not meet the approval of the breeders, however, and one was searching for other blood to improve the Westphalian Warmblood. Over the years, trotters were tried, which the breeders found unattractive, Anglo-Normans had some positive influence for about two decades, but their products were often too light for the goal one was striving for. Then the Westphalian breeders more and more looked to their neighbors in the Hanoverian province, which at that time were already doing really well with their warmbloods, and that proved to be the right step in the chosen direction.
When it was interrupted by World War I, surviving the war better though than most other German breeds, that is, without the negative influences of the draft horse wave the Westphalian Warmbood had made a good start. After the war, it regained importance, but was set back again by World War II, which meant the loss of many of the best horses and also of most of the registry documents.
Soon afterwards though, Westphalian breeders rebuilt the breed with the help of Hanoverian blood, and quickly made a name for their horses. While the influences of other breeds and strains on the Westphalian were manifold, they had little to do with what took place once the breeders had agreed on a common goal after World War II and built the Westphalian Warmblood breed up with the help of the best Hanoverian blood and in doing this, they did not settle for very good Hanoverian blood, but used only the very best
Westphalia traditionally was and is a province of horse enthusiasts, and Westphalian breeders quickly proved that they are second to none. In recent decades, a considerable amount of Thoroughbred blood has helped to create the Westphalian Warmblood of today. Without it, the breed tends to become too heavy or even coarse, just like other German warmblood breeds.
Ramzes, an Anglo-Arabian stallion that went back to Shagya Arabians on the bottom side, was used in the Westphalian breed and founded two male lines, that of Radetzky in Westphalia (dressage) and that of Ramiro in Holstein (jumping).
Having produced world-class individuals since the 1930s, with international champions and Olympic champions in events like show jumping, dressage, and carriage driving, the Westphalian Warmblood breed is that of a large, noble, strong, modern sport horse. The breed shows a lot of Thoroughbred influence, but has retained strong bone and size. Breeding goals are similar to the other German warmblood breeds, with great emphasis on a huge, ground-covering trot, jumping ability, and correctness of limbs.
As in all German warmblood breeds, size is something that the followers of those breeds cannot get enough of. So, if the Westphalian is said to be between 16,2 hands and 17 hands, that is only half of the truth. Many are taller, some even much taller than that.
In Germany, the Westphalian Warmblood breed is the second largest in numbers (after Hanover). The center of the breed is in the city of Warendorf, home of the Landbeschaelers, a large number of stallions which are owned by the studbook and placed at strategic points throughout the province during breeding season, and thus made available for all mare owners. This is in addition to the privately-owned stallions. From Westphalia, breeding stock goes into many German states, but also abroad.
Photos: The horse at the top of this page is Rembrandt, the all-time most successful German dressage horse, under Nicole Uphoff. The horse at the far right, above, is Ahlerich and Dr Reiner Klimke. one of the world’s most successful dressage riders. The world-famous Westphalian brand - on the left the early one, created in 1908 when the Westphalian breeders’s association was founded, on the right the modernized one the breed is known by today, which was inaugurated in 1966.