Originally developed in Germany, the Hanoverian is a horse breed that is considered to be warmblooded. It can often be seen in competitive events, especially with the English riding style, because of its temperament and willingness to work. This breed is one of the oldest breeds in the world that is considered to be warmblooded, one of the most numerous breeds in the world with this temperament, and often considered to be one of the most successful breeds.
The Hanoverian was originally intended to be a carriage horse. Over time, Thoroughbred genetics were infused into the breed, allowing it to become agile and competitive. It is a breed that is known for its grace, beauty, and overall good temperament.
What Does It Mean to Be a Warmblooded Horse?
Warmblooded horses are generally average-weight horses that are typically bred for sporting events or other forms of competition. Warmbloods generally have open studbook policies and selection processes, though this is not always the case for breeds that are just beginning to establish themselves. The goal of the Hanoverian breed is to maintain the positive characteristics that are already in place with personality and temperament, while still being able to add a certain level of sophistication to the horse while still keeping the breed genetically diverse.
Since 1888, the Hanoverian has been one of the most popular breeds in Europe, initially used for coach and army work. This preference continued through the end of World War I, especially since its gaits and temperament allowed it to work as a riding and carriage horse. It wasn’t until the years after World War II when the modern temperament of the Hanoverian was developed.
Hanoverians are willing and trainable because this characteristic has been bred into the breed whenever possible. In the early days of the breed, only stallions that had passed a thorough inspection, which included temperament, were allowed to be part of the studbook. Although there is more of an open policy today, the goal is still the same: to keep the warmblood nature of the Hanoverian present in each animal.
The end result is a horse that is robust, elegant, and strong. They have strong backs and a powerful body, which allows them to have athletic movements that are distinctive within the breed. The only regulations regarding the breed in terms of appearance involve limiting the amount of white that is present in the coat and certain minimum size qualifications.
Most Hanoverians are about 16-16.2 hands in size, but can be up to 17.2 hands in some instances. Every coat color is possible, including buckskin, cremello, and palomino, but the Hanoverian registry does not allow those coat colors to be officially registered.
The Personality Traits of the Hanoverian Horse
The physique of the Hanoverian might be the first thing that catches the eye of the average person with this breed, but its personality and temperament are often a close second. For the most part, the Hanoverian is a horse that has an outstanding attitude. The breed as a whole is somewhat docile in its approach to humans, but it is still a determined horse that is ready to work with its owner or rider.
Hanoverian horses are also very disciplined in their approach to life. Once they have learned a new skill or trait, they keep at it. They can implement it with consistency. Behavior traits that most would consider to be negative will only develop if the Hanoverian is not worked with on a regular basis.
The intelligence of the Hanoverian could be challenging for some owners, since horses that are left to their own devices within this breed tend to find themselves getting into trouble on a regular basis. They are a highly social breed as well, so the warmblooded characteristics can begin to fade if the horse is not given a stall mate and is not tended to on a regular basis by their owner or rider.
This means the Hanoverian is a horse that typically seems taller than other horses, despite the fact that it is a mostly average horse in height and weight. In many ways, their temperament is closer to the cold-blooded drafting breeds, but they still have the drive to compete, train, and explore quite often.
There Is Rigorous Testing Within the Hanoverian Breed
The breed associations for the Hanoverian breed often encourage the best horses to be bred, encouraging the temperament and athletic traits that have made this such a beloved horse on the competitive circuits. There are also health concerns within the horses, however, that must be judged in both stallions and mares so that heritable defects do not alter the genetics of the breed in a harmful way.
One of the most common health issues that affects Hanoverian horses is osteochondrosis. This disease affects the cartilage and bones in the joints of the horse as it grows. It’s most often found in the fetlocks, creating lesions that may encourage fluid buildup, small fractures, or destruction of the cartilage itself. Over time, this disease can cause osteoarthrosis to develop in the horse, contributing to Wobbler disease and other health issues.
Up to 10% of Hanoverian horses may have osteochondrosis in the hock joint. Up to 24% of them will have it in a fetlock joint.
Hanoverian horses typically have a head that is straight, but well-defined. It has ears that are somewhat smaller than other warmblooded breeds, but the eyes are clear and curious. The neck of the Hanoverian is noticeably muscular, yet somewhat slender when compared to other breeds. The chest of this breed is deep and broad, the legs sturdy, but the joints flexible despite the health issues that some horses tend to have.
How the Hanoverian Breed Continues to Remain Docile
Breeders within the Hanoverian breed are constantly seeking out new ways to make sure the health issues of the horse can be reduced, but the personality and temperament of the breed can be maintained. Many fanciers look outward to other breeds, crossbreeding other genetics into the Hanoverian breed so that the horses can continue to rise in sophistication, grace, and gentleness.
This means the Hanoverian horse can be a good family horse in addition to being a high-energy competitive horse. As long as there are ample riding and work opportunities for the horse, the patience, strength, and speed of this breed is going to shine forth every day. That is why this breed is highly valued and will continued to be for generations to come.