Hanoverians are one of the oldest warm-blooded breeds that exists in the world today. They were originally bred to be a carriage horse, though there have been Thoroughbred lineages added to the breed over the years that make it a good competition horse as well. These horses are agile, athletic, and are graceful.
These traits are combined with personality traits that are more similar to cold-blooded breeds than those that are warm-blooded. The typical Hanoverian is a bold horse, but intelligent with the choices that it will make. Most are sensible with their attitudes toward humans or their herd, while having a willingness to train or work that is atypical of many warm-blooded breeds. That is why they are so popular for dressage, along with recreational riding or mounted activities.
The History of the Hanoverian Horse Temperament
Developed in Germany, there was a need to have a horse that was versatile enough for farmers with limited income or resources. With the right horse, they could have a worker who could be out in the fields plowing, yet still be able to drive the carriage if the family needed to go into the town. That is why this is one of the oldest breeds that is still actively managed in the world today.
The temperament is remarkably calm for such a warm-blooded breed and its history. It’s calmness was initially bred into the horses so that it could transition from activity to activity with ease, but in the 19th century, this calm temperament also made Hanoverans the perfect war horse in Europe.
Since the end of World War I, the breed’s temperament has evolved more into a horse that is willing and easy to train. It has transitioned from being a work horse into a performance horse. You’ll still see some attitudes that are reflective of the older days, especially when the lineage comes from a rural area, but for the most part, the Hanoverian is an athletic and strong horse breed that has some fire within its personality.
That fire, however, can be controlled effectively well when the right owner or handler comes along for each individual horse.
Personality Traits in the Hanoverian Horse Temperament
When you see a Hanoverian for the first time, what stands out are the clean and muscular lines of the breed. Once you approach the horse, you’ll notice how patient the breed tends to be with others. They tend to be somewhat docile in their interactions, but approach work, training, or a ride with a specific fierceness that few breeds can match.
They’re able to take this fierce approach to work because of how discipline most individuals are with their temperament. They keep their new traits or skills and continue to build upon them on a regular basis. Hanoverians also implement what they’ve learned with a consistency that is almost unmatched when comparing them to other warm-blooded horses.
There are negative behavior traits that can develop in certain individuals over time within this breed. For the most part, negative behaviors are the result of boredom with this horse. Hanoverians like to be active on a regular basis. If they are kept in a stall or turned out in small areas, then their energy gets the best of them and the negative traits will begin to show.
For inexperienced owners, the intelligence of this breed can also be challenging. These horses shouldn’t be left on their own to figure out new skills. They are incredibly crafty, able to figure locks, latches, and even weaknesses that may be in a fence.
These traits also grow in Hanoverians that are kept on their own. It is a breed that is extremely social, so horses that are kept alone need to have regular human interactions to maintain their positive personality traits. Without a stall-mate and regular tending, the characteristics which are so prized within the Hanoverian horse temperament will slowly fade away.
What to Know About the Hanoverian Breed
Hanoverians are usually patient as a breed, though there are individuals who will become stubborn and impatient at the drop of the hat. They are quick horses who think on their feet and the troublemakers within the breed use their intelligence to look for “alternative” ways to have some fun – often at your expense.
Hanoverians are known to be practical jokers. You can tell if it was a prank or a negative behavior trait based on the body language of the horse. If your Hanoverian seems to be laughing at you, then you’ve been had. If not, you might consider changing the environment for the horse.
If you have some experience with horses, most will be able to handle the temperament of the Hanoverian breed. Most make for good riding horses.
What you need to watch for within this breed are three specific health issues.
- Osteochondritis Dissecans
- Wobbler Syndrome
Up to 1 in 4 horses within the Hanoverian breed may experience one or more of these issues. Because of the rigorous testing which occurs within this breed, those with health issues are usually restricted from breeding so that the lineage of the breed can continue to improve.
These health issues are more common within the Hanoverian breed than most others. The presence of one of these concerns can alter the temperament of the individual horse as well. You’ll see signs of distress develop over time, with high levels of discomfort creating a horse that will be agitated and defensive. Treating the health issues can ease the symptoms the horse experiences, which can then begin to restore the true personality of the individual.
These horses are very talented and can perform multiple tasks with relative ease, even if they have been shown limited training. They pick up jumping and general riding skills quickly and many love the challenge that a dressage competition presents. Their abilities as a breed are one of the primary reasons why this breed is such a popular one.
Is the Hanoverian Breed Right for You?
One of the issues that owners and handlers face within the Hanoverian breed is the cross-bred genetics that are occurring right now. In an attempt to alter the health issues that this breed faces, there have been instances where negative behavior traits have become the norm. Certain individuals may even become overly aggressive as the cross-breeding temperament overwhelms the desired Hanoverian traits.
On the whole, however, the Hanoverian breed is considered to be one of the best family horses that you can find right now. They are consistently patient, have strength and energy to spare, and enough speed to create an exciting trail ride. Assuming that the breeding patterns remain as they are, with the occasional exception to the rule, the Hanoverian horse temperament is one that is highly valued and will continue to be as the years pass by.