The WIELKOPOLSKI, is one of Poland’s most important warmbloods, it is a sound competition horse and, along with its close relative the Trakehner is the warmblood with the greatest potential as an event horse. It is probably less appreciated than it deserves to be as Polish breeders cannot match the sales and promotions techniques of breeders in Central and Western Europe. Regardless, their stock and breeding skills are equal, and often superior to those found elsewhere in Europe.
THE ARAB HERITAGE
Like the Hungarians, the Poles had a tradition of horsemanship unequalled by any other European nation. Similarly, they favored Arab or Arab-type horses to carry their renowned light cavalry and, with an intuitive breeding sense, used Arab blood
to upgrade their national stock.
Most Polish-bred horses are influenced by the Arab horse in some way. Indeed, producing Arab and Arab-type horses amounts to something little short of a Polish national duty. The Wielkopolski is no exception and although it is not an Arab horse, in Poland it is inevitably much influenced by that superlative blood and retains its sound constitution.
The Arab studs in Poland, which were famous throughout Europe and produced stock of rare and distinctive quality were created by the Polish nobility. In 1803 Prince Sanguszko was the first to import horses from the East, sending an envoy to acquire horses for his stud at Slawuta. His descendant, Count Potocki, founded the famous Antoniny Stud later in the century. Potocki, a fine horseman and a breeder of genius, produced notable strains of Arab, as well as spotted and part-colored horses that were Arab in appearance and had the same characteristic action at the studs of Posadowo, Racot, and Gogolewo, and was well-established in the 19th century. It was a good stamp of middle- to heavyweight horse, from a base provided by the hardy Konik pony which descended from the Tarpan.
It carried Arab and Thoroughbred blood some Hanoverian , and some East Prussian Trakehner. It was used as an agricultural horse to work the medium soil of the district, but it was also a very useful riding horse.
The Masuren horse was bred in the Masury district, chiefly at Liski, which was formerly a principal remount depot, and at the state studs. Stallion depots were at Starogad, Kwidzyn, and Gniezno. The Masuren was in every way a Trakehner, with all that implies in terms of Arabian and Thoroughbred blood. Indeed, after the Second World War the nucleus of the Masuren breed was made up of stray horses, which were identified as Trakehner by the elk-antler brand and gathered together by the Polish authorities.
AND THEN CAME THE WIELKOPOLSKI
The Wielkopolski resulted as a combination of these two distinctive breeds, additional outcrosses then being made to Thoroughbreds, Arabs, and Anglo-Arabs until differences in type had been eradicated. It is a big, quality, dual-purpose horse, which is mainly bred in central and western Poland. It is a handsome, proportionate animal, naturally balanced and noted for its good paces. It a long, easy walk; the trot is level, straight,
and low; and it covers a lot of ground at the canter and gallop, which is not always the case with other warmblood breeds. It stands at about 1.68 m (16.2hh), and is found in all solid colors.
The Wielkopolski is a practical horse, going as well in harness as saddle, and is both easy and economical to keep. The heavier specimens are active, powerful, and good tempered. They are quite able to carry out any job in an agricultural economy which still employs horse-power but makes little use of the heavy horse breeds.
Today, however, the emphasis is upon a lighter, athletic stamp of horse that conforms to the requirements of the modern competitive disciplines without sacrificing the easily manageable temperament or the essential soundness of physique. Owing to its high percentage of Thoroughbred blood, the Wielkopolski is an excellent jumper, with the speed, mental stamina, and courage to go cross-country. It also remains a very useful light harness horse.