Name of breed: Trakehner
Country of origin: Prussia
Breed origin: The Trakehner breed was originally developed at the East Prussian state stud farm in the twon of Trakehnen, from which the breed takes its name. The state stud was established in 1731, and between 1817 and 1837, Arabian, Thoroughbred and Turkoman horses were crossed with the stud horses to further develop the Trakehner breed. East Prussian farmers were also encouraged to bring their mares, known for their hardiness and quality, to Trakehnen’s stallions. This enabled the rapid transformation of the breed into much sought-after army horses: sure-footed, intelligent and athletic. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles limited Germany’s army to 100,000 troops so the breed’s focus was again turned to producing horses suitable for farm duties. This saw the introduction of sires of heavier build and conformation. It was during the 1920s and 1930s that the breed was recognised for its performance abilities in competitive equestrian disciplines.
Distinguishing features: Due to its Thoroughbred ancestry, the Trakehner is of rectangular build, with a long sloping shoulder, powerful hindquarters and a well-set neck. It is known for its ‘floating trot’, full of impulsion and suspension. This breed of horse is known for its athleticism and trainability, with very good endurance. It is considered to be the lightest and most refined of the warmbloods, while some are more spirited than horses of other warmblood breeds.
Modern day Trakehner: While Trakehners compete in nearly all equestrian disciplines, they are particularly prized in the dressage arena, due to their sensitivity, intelligence and wonderful movement. The Trakehner also tends to do better in the sport of eventing than most other warmblood breeds, due to their very light build.
Some famous Trakehners include: Peron, who anchored the US team to an Olympic Bronze in 1996 at Atlanta; Abdulla who is famous for his show jumping team gold and individual silver at the 1984 Olympics and 1985 World Cup win; Heuriger was the 1994 show jumping team silver medalist at the 1994 World Equestrian Games; and Windfall PG 2 who was a member of the bronze medal winning USA team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Image credit: Horse Know It All