Discover the Top 9 German Warmblood Horse Breeds: Origins, Characteristics, and More

Horses have long been popular in Germany, particularly German Warmblood Horse Breeds. As a result, determining which is the most common popular German warmblood horse breeds can be difficult. But don’t be alarmed. We’ve got this!

We’ve compiled a list of the 9 most common popular German warmblood horse breeds together with their origin and unique characteristics, for you to peruse and decide which one appeals to you the most.

The 9 most common popular German warmblood horse breeds include;

  1. Wurttemberg Horse
  2. Oldenburg Warmblood Horse
  3. Hanoverian Warmblood Horse Breed 
  4. Mecklenburg East-German Warmblood Horse
  5. Trakehner German Warmblood Horse
  6. Beberbeck Warmblood Horse
  7. Holstein West-German Warmblood Horse
  8. Bavarian Warmblood Horse
  9. East Friesian Warmblood Horse Breed. 

Continue reading to learn more about these legendary breeds’ features and origins. 

Table of Contents (Horspedia)

Wurttemberg Horse | German Warmblood Horse and their Characteristics 

  • Origin: West Germany – Württemberg. 
  • Height: About 16hh.
  • Color: Usually black, bay, brown, chestnut.
  • Character: Willing, hard-working, gentle. 

Physique: Medium-weight tall cob type, suitable for both harness and saddle work. Straight face, alert expression; good shoulders, roomy chest, deep girth.

Straight back with strong loins and good quarters. Clean legs with excellent bone and hard, round feet. A sound, hardy horse with great stamina.

Origin of the Wurttemberg Horse 

The Württemberg existed as an idea long before it existed as a horse. The breed was developed because of a need for a strong and thrifty animal capable of doing all-around work on small mountain farms.

The Württemberg is principally bred at Marbach, a stud founded in 1573, where initial attempts to produce the ideal small-farm worker consisted of crossing Arab stallions onto sturdy local mares. 

Experiments with East Prussian, Anglo-Norman, and Suffolk Punch, as well as with other breeds, did not succeed in stabilizing the type of horse required, and it was not until 1895 that a Stud Book could be opened.

Oldenburg | Another Magnificent Warmblood Horse from Germany

  • Origin: Germany – Oldenburg and East Friesland. 
  • Height: 16.2-17.2hh.
  • Color: Any solid color black, brown, bay are the most common. 
  • Character: Precocious horse (matures early); bold, sensible, and kind.

Physique: Tallest and heaviest of the German warm-bloods. Somewhat plain head with a straight face. Long, strong neck; powerful, muscular shoulder, chest-deep and roomy, deep girth; strong body and hindquarters: legs short with abundant bone, hocks well let down.

Origin of the Oldenburg warmblood horse

Almost all of the great foundation breeds of the taller saddle horses are represented in the pedigree of the Oldenburg. 

The basis of the breed, which has flourished since the early 17th century, seems to have been strong draught horses of the old Friesian type.

Oldenburg warmblood horse breed and their physique
The physique of the Oldenburg warmblood horse breed

To these were added, in the probable following order, Andalusians, Neapolitans, Barbs, English Thoroughbreds, Hanoverians, Cleveland Bays, and Norman/Anglo-Norman horses.

This mixture had been incorporated by the turn of the century, at which time the Oldenburg was a prime coach horse type.

Evolution of the Oldenburg warmblood horse

After World War I the Oldenburg suffered the usual fate of the coach horse overtaken by the automobile, and the emphasis of the breed was switched to a heavy warm-blood utility animal suitable for cavalry, pack, and light farm work

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Mechanization of agriculture brought about a further redundancy and change of type, and the patient breeders of the Oldenburg once more began to change their stock to suit the market.

This time Thoroughbred and Anglo-Norman stallions were the main influences, with some help from Hanoverian and East Prussian horses.

The result is a strong, all-purpose saddle horse of good conformation, a pleasant mount for the tall rider,, and a valuable horse for eventing and shows jumping.

Hanoverian Warmblood Horse Breed | Origin and Characteristics 

  • Origin: West Germany – Hanover and Lower Saxony. 
  • Height: 15.3-17hh.
  • Color: All solid colors.
  • Character: Indomitable, courageous animal, intelligent, well-mannered, and versatile.

Physique: Somewhat plain head with a straight face and intelligent eye, well set on a strong neck. Excellent shoulders; powerful, deep-chested body with broad, strong loins and rounded, muscular quarters.

The physique of the Hanoverian horse
Hanoverian Warmblood horse breed and their looks

Tail set high and carried well. Legs are short and strong, short in the pasterns, and hocks well let down and flexible. Action straight and showy. A strong, compact horse of good conformation and excellent balance.

Why the Hanoverian warmblood horse commands exorbitant prices

Balance, brain, and power combine to make the Hanoverian a top-class dressage horse and showjumper, and in these two fields today, it justly commands very high prices.

Besides its natural aptitude for sporting events – it is also an excellent hunter it seems to have a genuine love of the game and sometimes an appealing sense of showmanship. 

The Men’s World Showjumping Championship, a quadrennial event, was won in 1974 by Hartwig Steenken of West Germany riding his great liver chestnut Hanoverian mare, Simona, whose capacity to capture an audience was obviously apparent to her.

The enormous fences were approached with nonchalance, cleared with a flippant flick of the tail in mid-air, left behind with a show of her yellow teeth that seemed an almost human grin of delight.

Simona was 16 at the time, an age at which most sporting horses have long been retired from competition.

Origin of Honoverians warmblood horse breed.

Hanoverians have been bred since the 17th century, and are one of the oldest of the German warm-blooded breeds.

They descend from the famous Hanoverian Creams, also called Isabellas after the Queen of Spain, which were bred under British royal patronage at the Landgestüt at Celle in Hanover and were used as carriage horses for ceremonial purposes.

The British royal family of the time was Hanoverian by birth- George 1 of England was formerly George, Elector of Hanover.

Hanoverian Creams were used for British royal processions from the reign of George I to George V, when they were replaced by the Windsor Greys. The present-day Hanoverian has been modified by Thoroughbred and Trakehner’s blood.

Mecklenburg | East-German Warmblood Horse Breed Characteristics 

  • Origin: East Germany. 
  • Height: 15.2-16.3hh.
  • Color: All solid colors.
  • Character: Good saddle horse, willing and bold, with a kind and tractable nature. 

Physique: Medium head, well-carried on a strong neck. Powerful shoulders and chest.

Physique of the Mecklenburg horse
Mecklenburg warmblood horse physique

Deep girth, rounded barrel; compact body with broad, strong loins and good quarters. Legs are strong with good bones. Short cannon bones, hard, round hooves. The general appearance is that of a slightly smaller Hanoverian.

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Origin of the Hanoverian warmblood horse breed.

The Mecklenburg is closely related to the Hanoverian, much the same bloodlines having been used to establish both of them with a frequent exchange of stock between breeders of the two strains.

In this century it has been bred as a cavalry remount, though since World War II breeders have tended to concentrate on the production of a good, all-purpose saddle horse.

Trakehner | German Warmblood Horse Breed from East Prussia

  • Origin: Germany – East Prussia (now Poland). 
  • Height: 16-16.2hh. 
  • Color: Any solid color.
  • Character: Charming, good-natured, active, intelligent, and loyal.

Physique: Attractive saddle horse of good conformation. Somewhat ram-shaped head, broad between the eyes and tapering to a pointed muzzle. Alert, intelligent eye, rather long, pricked ears.

Trakehner (East Prussian) warmblood horse physique
Trakehner (East Prussian) warmblood horse physique

The long, strong neck on a good shoulder; prominent withers, deep girth, and roomy chest. Medium-length back, strong and well-ribbed-up: good hindquarters.

Legs slender and hard with short cannon bones. Excellent feet. Action extremely good, free, striding, and straight. At its best, the Trakehner is a quality show hack.

Origin of the Trakehner warmblood horse

Trakehner Stud, now administered by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture, was founded by King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Germany in 1732 when the land on which it stood was part of the province of East Prussia.

Horses have been bred there ever since, enriched by imported Arab and Thoroughbred blood. Trakehners have been privately bred in West Germany since the end of World War II when some 5% of the 25,000 horses registered in the East Prussian Stud Book filtered through as refugees, many of them on foot.

The Trakehner is perhaps the best of the modern West German breeds. It combines good looks and stamina with enormous versatility and has proved successful in all kinds of sport as well as in dressage, between the shafts, and on the farm.

Holstein | West-German Warmblood Horse Breed Characteristics 

  • Origin: West Germany. 
  • Height: 15.3-16.2hh. 
  • Color: Any solid color. Black, bay, and brown are the commonest. 
  • Character: Intelligent, adaptable animal, possessed of spirit and sweet nature. Obedient and willing; very versatile.

Physique: Well-made, somewhat heavily built, horse. Intelligent head on the strong neck.

Powerful shoulders and chest, prominent withers, deep girth; compact body, well-ribbed-up; good hindquarters. Rather short legs, with abundant bone. Action straight and long-striding, slightly flamboyant.

The physique of Holstein warmblood horse
Warmblood Horse Holstein physique and looks

This is a splendid all-around animal, combining power, speed, and flexibility. Its strong hindquarters and hocks have often helped it to achieve international class in the showjumping arena, while its ability to gallop on, its proud carriage, and its amenity to discipline have led to its successful three-day events.

It makes an attractive carriage horse, and its versatility has extended in the past to all-around work on the farm (though nowadays this is hardly economic).

Origin of the Holstein warmblood horse breed. 

The Holstein is one of the oldest of the warm-bloods, stemming from the 14th-century Marsh Horse, one of the heavy Great Horse types used for medieval warfare.

It contains Oriental, Andalusian, and Neapolitan blood with liberal 19th and 20th-century additions of Thoroughbred and Cleveland Bay.

Beberbeck | Warmblood Horse Specifics and Character

  • Origin: West Germany. 
  • Height: Usually exceeds 16hh. 
  • Color: Predominantly bay or chestnut.
  • Character: Even-tempered, willing and enduring: sufficient courage and discipline to make a good cavalry horse, and sufficient patience to work well in harness and on the farm.  
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Physique: Quality saddle horse, up to weight. Excellent conformation and bone. General appearance similar to the Thoroughbred, though this is a heavier version.

Origin of the Beberbeck warmblood horse breed.

Beberbeck Stud, near Kassel, began in 1720. The original intention was to breed Palomino horses, but this aim seems to have changed to the desire for a quality carriage and riding horse.

Initial crosses onto local mares appear to have been made with Arab stallions; later, Thoroughbreds were extensively used.

The stud was closed in 1930. The horses are still bred and entered in the studbook, but the Beberbeck strain has dwindled numerically and is no longer an important German breed.

Bavarian Warmblood Horse from Lower Bavaria | Origin and Characteristics 

  • Origin: Germany – Lower Bavaria. 
  • Color: Chestnut. 

Character and Physique: Heavy warm-blood of medium height, having a deep, broad, powerful body and strong legs with abundant bone. Temperament is docile, sensible, willing, and enduring.

Origin of the Bavarian warmblood horse breed.

The esteemed old breed of chestnut warhorse, the Rottaler, bred in the fertile valley of Rott in Lower Bavaria and used first as a celebrated battle charger and later as an almost equally celebrated farm and draught animal has recently given rise to the new Bavarian Warmblood. 

Modification of the Rottaler has been going on for a couple of centuries, using Thoroughbred, Cleveland Bay, and Norman bloodlines, and more recently those of the Oldenburg.

About 1960 the name Rottaler was discontinued, and the breed has since been known as the Bavarian Warmblood.

East Friesian | A Warmblood Horse Breed from Thuringia 

  • Origin: East Germany – Thuringia.
  •  Height: About 16-16.2hh. 
  • Color: Any solid color.

Character: Bold, spirited, kind- an excellent riding temperament. Physique: Quality saddle/carriage horse, similar to the Oldenburg but with a more refined, “breedy” head and a lighter frame.

Origin of the East Friesian warmblood horse breed

Until the division of Germany at the end of World War II, the East Friesian and the Oldenburg were one and the same, and horses from the provinces of Oldenburg and East Friesland were regularly exchanged and interbred. 

During the last 30 years, this free exchange has not been so easy, and the East Friesian has developed along rather different lines from its sibling.

East Friesian and their physique and stance
East Friesian warmblood horse physique

Arabian blood from the stud at Marbach, West Germany, and Hungarian Arab from Bábolna have helped to refine the East Friesian’s body, reduce its height, and improve its formerly somewhat plain head; more recently.

Hanoverian stallions have added compactness and strength to the breed.