The HANOVERIAN HORSE, is best distinguished by its stylized “H” brandmark. Thet are the most numerous and the best-known of the European warmbloods. The breed was established at Celle in 1735 by George II, Elector of Hanover and King of England (1727-1760), “for the benefit of our subjects”. Today, over 8,000 mares a year are served by stallions of the Celle Stallion Depot.
THE CELLE STUD
Even before the foundation of the stallion depot at Celle, the Hanoverian had received much royal encouragement. The white horse of Hanover graced the coat-of-arms of the Elector Ernest Augustus (1629-1698), and the famous Royal Hanoverian Creams, with their pale coffee-colored manes and tails, were bred at Electress Sophia’s instigation at the royal residence at Herrenhausen. These small coach horses were used in British royal processions from the reign of George I to that of George V.
When George, Elector of Hanover, became George I of England, “Thoroughbreds” of the day were imported to upgrade the often unprepossessing stock, but the founding sires at Celle were 14 black Holsteiners. This breed was to be the overriding influence on horses at the depot for the next 30 years. Later, more Thoroughbred blood was introduced. This created a lighter, more free-moving horse that was of sufficient quality to be used in carriage harness or under saddle, but was still strong enough for general farm work. From the outset all horses at Celle were registered, and by the end of the 18th century detailed pedigrees were being kept.
The stock at Celle was depleted during the Napoleonic Wars, and when the stud was re-established in 1816 there were only 30 stallions out of the 100 that had been housed there earlier. The complement was built up with more English Thoroughbred imports and with horses from Mecklenburg, the station to which the Celle stallions had been evacuated during the wars. (Hnterestingly, only English Thoroughbreds were used to upgrade European warmblood stock. Apart from France, and later Italy, the other countries of Europe never developed Thoroughbred stock comparable to that of the UK, Ireland, and the US.)
By the mid-19th century the increasing Thoroughbred influence (35 per cent) had resulted in a horse that was too light for agricultural use, and attempts were made to standardize the production of a heavier type by using indigenous lines within the breed.
By the time of the First World War Celle had 350 stallions, and by 1924 this number had increased to 500. To house all the horses another stud at Osnabruck-Eversburg was utilized, and the 100 stallions there were a powerful incentive to the breeding of Hanoverian horses in this region. Osnabrack Eversburg remained operative until 1961.Between the World Wars the number of stallions available for service fluctuated, and there was some variation in type among stock bred in different areas. After the Second World War, some Trakehners had found their way to Celle from East Prussia, and were added to the existing stock.
In the 1960s determined efforts were made to adapt the Hanoverian breeding policies, in order to satisfy the new demand for high-quality riding and sport horses. The new policy’s success owes much to the use of the Trakehners and Thoroughbreds that are still kept at Celle. They acted as a refining influence, lightening the still heavy-bodied Hanoverian and giving greater scope and freedom of movement.
The modern Hanoverian stands between 1.60 and 1.68 m (15.3-16.2 hh), and has good conformation. Ht is notably correct in its action, which is athletic and elastic, and there is no longer any trace of the high knee movement that characterized the old Hanoverian carriage horse. It is claimed to be particularly equable in temperament. These horses are far more refined than their predecessors, as a result of continued outcrosses to the Thoroughbred . They are renowned as dressage performers and also as show jumpers of exceptional talent at international levels.
The breed has made their way to Australia where they are currently being bred as dressage and show jumping horses. For more information about the breed in Australia contact the Australian Hanoverian Horse Association here http://www.hanoverian.org.au/.