The Hanoverian is a horse that is considered to be a warm-blooded breed. This means it is a good mixture of a light and a heavy horse. The breed’s history dates back to the 17th century, when King George II, Elector of Hanover, began introducing Thoroughbred genetics into Holsteiner lines that he owned. This developed a horse that was used for field work, cavalry needs, and as carriage horses.
Here are some more interesting Hanoverian horse facts to help you get to know this breed a little bit better.
#1. Hanoverian horses tend to be average is size and stature.
Most Hanoverians are going to stand between 15-16 hands in height, though some may be slightly smaller or larger than this standard. They tend of have a medium-sized head which is supported by a long neck and strong, sloping shoulders. Because of their warm-blooded nature, they do tend to eat a little more than other breeds of a similar size to support their metabolism.
#2. There are color restrictions as part of the breed regulation.
Hanoverian horses, by definition, will only come in the colors of black, brown, grey, bay, or chestnut. There are pure-bred horses in this breed that may be colored buckskin, white, palomino, or cremello, but they will not be accepted for the registry.
#3. Hanoverians excel in jumping competitions.
This breed of horse is known for its stamina and strength. They are a sturdy horse that is healthy and hardy, with few common health problems to note. This allows the breed to excel in many sport horse competitions. They are particularly adept at jumping competitions, while their active and carriage gaits tend to also make them great dressage horses.
#4. Several different breeds have been used to refine the Hanoverian.
About 100 years after Thoroughbreds were used to initially create this breed, they were used once again to add refinement to its characteristics. Around 1945, breeders also began using Quarter Horses to continue refining the breed. This has helped to define the sporting characteristics that are found in this breed in particular.
#5. It is extremely difficult for a horse in this breed to be graded as a breeding stallion.
Out of the 9,000 Hanoverian horses that are registered every year, about 10 of them will one day qualify to become a breeding stallion. The tests to qualify for this breed are extremely rigorous and take years to complete, with some lasting several months at a time. The grading process includes every aspect of the horse’s health, confirmation, performance, and temperament.
#6. Hanoverian horses that are registered are branded.
Every registered Hanoverian is required to have a “H” branded on their left hind-quarter. This is generally accompanied by the final two digits of the life number, or UELN, for the horse.
The Universal Equine Life Number is a project that attempted to bring a common language to all organizations that register horses. This makes it easier to track specific horses in any breed so that monitoring their health, event participation, and other activities becomes easier to do as an industry on the whole.
#7. This breed is not an ideal horse for first-time riders or owners.
Hanoverian horses are willing as a breed in general terms, with a docile personality that is backed by an impressive intelligence, but they also require someone who is confident in their riding ability. They love to work with their riders and enjoy competing, but they can also sometimes have a mind of their own.
#8. Hanoverians are generally going to command top pricing.
In the United States, the current price range for Hanoverians is $5,000 - $35,000 for most horses. The lower price range is generally for weanlings and geldings. Dressage horses with trained gaits and a level attitude tend to command higher pricing opportunities.
#9. Many Hanoverians tend to deal with OCD at some level.
OCD, or Osteochondrisis, is something that can affect horses, humans, and many other creatures on our planet. It’s not believed to be a genetic disorder, but there does seem to be a hereditary component to it. In Hanoverians, it causes their bones to be weaker than normal, which increases the risks of a fracture occurring. Since this breed is generally classified as a sporting horse, it means that this disorder can cause a high level of discomfort.
Anyone who is thinking about purchasing a Hanoverian should have proof that the horse has been tested for this disorder and is free of it. When left untreated, OCD can progress to more serious health concerns.
To qualify for breeding, a Hanoverian must be certified as being free of this disorder to receive a license. Up to 10% of Hanoverians are believed to have OCD in their hock joint. Up to 25% of Hanoverians may have OCD in a fetlock joint.
#10. The Royal Hanoverian Creams were originally considered to be part of the breed.
The Royal Creams were used to pull the royal carriages for English kings and queens. Their manes were flowing and wavy, with skin that tended to be pink and eyes that were noticeably blue. Napoleon virtually destroyed the entire breed in Hanover, but they would be temporarily rescued by Prince Regent. After some time, this part of the breed was simply abandoned because of its origins.
Some believe that this is why there is only a minimal amount of white that is considered to be acceptable as the breed standard for the modern Hanoverians.
#11. The lineage of modern Hanoverian horses includes white German warhorses.
Many of these warhorses were white in color as well, which is what initially led to the breeding of Hanoverian Creams. It’s another reason why the product of two Hanoverians can produce a foal that has white coloring, even though the parents may not have similar coloring.
#12. Hanoverians powered themselves to gold medals in 2008.
In the Beijing Olympics that were held in 2008, the dressage team which won the gold medal included 3 Hanoverian geldings. Their names were Bonaparte, Elvis, and Satchmo.
#13. Some of the winningest show jumpers in history are also Hanoverians.
Shutterfly is a particularly well-known show jumper from a competition standpoint. The horse was able to win 3 World Cups from 2005-2009. For Pleasure, another top Hanoverian competitor, has been on two Olympic gold medal winning show jumping teams and has finished second in the World Cup.
According to the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses, the Hanoverian studbook has been ranked as high as third in the world for eventing, ranked just behind the Irish Hunter and the Selle Francias.
Since 1956, Hanoverians have earned 3 individual gold medals, 4 individual silver medals, and 4 individual bronze medals. Hanoverians have been members of at least 7 gold medal winning dressage teams.
#14. Hanoverians have one of the best-kept lineages in the entire horsing world.
There are very few breeds that have the same level of record keeping as the Hanoverian breed. Most breeders are able to trace bloodlines over several generations, which gives them the best opportunity to find a good stallion/mare match-up. This has also led to specific breeding for eventing, show jumping, and gaits for dressage and equitation.
#15. An annual auction in Verden, Germany is considered to be the highlight of the year for the Hanoverian breed.
The auctions were first held in 1949 and have been held in the same venue since 1972. There are a minimum of 10 auctions per year which feature the top horses that are in this breed. The elite sales occur in April and October and have included horses that have gone on to win the World Cup. Walk on Top, Mr. T, and Aramis were all sold in the Verden auctions.
To qualify for the auction, the horse must arrive at least 4 weeks in advance to the venue. They will be put through several screening opportunities, including radiographic testing and an examination of vices. Sales in the elite auctions are often well above $100,000. In 2008, Lemony’s Nicket was sold for $1.125 million.
#16. Prizes are offered to breeders as an incentive to keep the best mares in the breeding stock.
Young mares can participate in station testing or field testing as proof of performance. The process is similar to what stallion candidates must also go through for qualification. The best mares are awarded what is called the “State’s Premium.”
It’s a monetary prize that is provided by the government of Lower Saxony to ensure that the best mares are able to stay in the local breeding population. Mares that are 3-4 years old from each district are allowed to attend this show, which is also sometimes held in Verden.
These Hanoverian horse facts show that with rigid standards and a specific plan of breeding can create a consistent breed. By encouraging the best prices for the best horses and awarding breeders who are successful with their horses, this breed will continue to be a powerful, athletic breed for generations to come.