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The Oldenburg Warmblood / Friesian connection


A studbook society was founded in 1879 by Friesian farmers and landowners who had gathered to found the Fries Rundvee Stamboek (FRS) The Paardenstamboek ("horse stud book") was published in 1880 and initially registered both Friesian horses and a group of heavy warmblood breeds, including Ostfriesen and Alt-Oldenburgers, collectively known as "Bovenlanders".


At the time, the Friesian horse was declining in numbers, and was being replaced by the more fashionable Bovenlanders, both directly, and by crossbreeding Bovenlander stallions on Friesian mares. This had already virtually exterminated the pure Friesian in significant parts of the province in 1879, which made the inclusion of Bovenlanders necessary. While the work of the society led to a revival of the breed in the late 19th century, it also resulted in the sale and disappearance of many of the best stallions from the breeding area, and Friesian horse populations dwindled. By the early 20th century, the number of available breeding stallions was down to three.


Therefore, in 1906, the two parts of the registry were joined, and the studbook was renamed the Friesch Paarden Stamboek (FPS) in 1907."

In 1913 a society, Het Friesch Paard, was founded to protect and promote the breed. By 1915 it had convinced FPS to split registration into two groups. By 1943, the breeders of non-Friesian horses left the FPS completely to form a separate association, which later became the Koninklijk Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland (Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN).

The Oldenburg is a big impressive horse whose height is from 16 to 17 hands or more and is the most powerfully built of all the warmbloods. The Modern Oldenburg still retains its ability as a powerful harness horse, successful in combined driving as well as having been refined for great success in jumping and all sport horse disciplines.


Count Johann the Younger, who ruled Oldenburg from 1573 to 1603 based his horse breeding on the East Friesian horse, which had both Andalusian and Oriental blood. His successor Count Anton Guther made the horse of northwestern Germany famous throughout Europe.

But the farmers of the area organized themselves into a society to improve the horses and in the late 1800's Thoroughbred stallions and Cleveland Bays were imported from England. Also included was a Normand stallion descended from the Norfolk Roadster horse. Hanoverian and the old Senner blood was used too.

From sources in the late 1800's the Oldenburg horse was described as the whole animal giving an impression of massiveness and power and at the same time nobility and refinement. They also matured early and were easy to handle and light on feed. Word spread and as far away as North America, this horse was simply known as the German Coach horse.

Up until the first World War, breeders continued to breed the heavy type carriage horse and the horse proved its value in the cavalry both in harness and mounted units; of course there were heavy losses of horses during the war.

Hardly any other outside blood was used once the Oldenburg horse "type "had been well established, but after the war and after mechanization, came the decline in demand for heavy coach horses or farm horses and more Thoroughbred and Norman blood was introduced after 1945 to create the all purpose riding horse of today, one of the best known of German warmbloods.


The modern Oldenburg horse is lighter than its ancestors and moves with greater freedom, with rhythmical and very correct gaits.

The neck is long and very strong but still reflects a coaching background. The head might be called plain, but the eye has that hint of boldness. The profile is straight but a Roman nose is not unknown.

To carry so big a frame, the limbs of the Oldenburg horse are strong and short with large joints and short cannon bones. The length of the humerus and its placement in respect to the scapula provides high knee action. Although greatly refined and possessing quality of movement and temperament suited to sporting competitions, the Oldenburg's higher knee action was also retained in its selective breeding, so success in driving and carriage is ongoing.

The shoulder is not as long as that of the Thoroughbred and the chest is wide. The quarters are very strong and provide powerful jumping and good dressage movements.

Under acts of 1819, amended as needed through 1923, responsibility for the breeding and licensing of stallions lies with the Society of Breeders the Verband. They pursue a policy of careful selection that results in a uniform type and stallions are further performance tested at the age of 3. The current and ongoing success of this horse throughout the world in sport horse competition says much for the focus of selective breeding and testing, proven in the competitions fields of the world.

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