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Holsteiner history

The Holsteiner or Holstein horse is the product of systematic breeding that has been ongoing in the northernmost province of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, since the thirteenth century. This area is one of the most successful horse breeding regions in Germany and the Holsteiner is one of Germany's oldest breeds of warmblood. The Holsteiner horse traces its ancestry to Neapolitan, Spanish and Oriental foundation stock that was carefully crossed with the native stock of the region. Originally the horse was valued by German farmers for its strength, steadiness and reliability, and by the military for its courage and ability.

The first written records of Holsteiner horse breeding date back to the thirteenth century when the Count of Holstein and Storman, Gerhard I, granted grazing rights to the monastery at Uetersen to the privately-owned land around the cloister. The monks continued to breed fine horses until the time of the Reformation when the properties of the monasteries were transferred to private landowners. Realizing the importance of these horses both on the farm and as dependable warhorses, these landowners continued the work begun by the monks.

As early as 1686 laws were passed in Schleswig-Holstein to insure the quality of the breed and incentives were often offered to encourage good breeding. Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth century the reputation of the Holsteiner breed grew throughout Europe with over 10,000 horses exported in the year 1797.

As the need for warhorses declined, British Yorkshire Coach horses and Cleveland Bay stallions were used in the nineteenth century to produce a fine, high-stepping carriage horse. After World War II, Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the breed which added refinement and jumping ability to the unique character of the Holsteiner. The breed has emerged as one of the great German sporting horses, particularly suited for jumping, dressage, driving and eventing and has been very influential the the development of other warmblood breeds.

Today, the Holsteiner can be found finishing at the top of the standings in most international equestrian eventing and driving competitions including both the Olympic Games and World Championships.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Holsteiner".
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