Mecklenburger Horses
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Mecklenburgers are warmblood horses from thernMecklenburg-Vorpommern region of north-eastern Germany. They have been closelyrnlinked to the State Stud of Redefin. Historically influenced by Arabian andrnThoroughbred blood, today's Mecklenburger is an athletic riding and drivingrnhorse similar to the neighboring Hanoverian. They are bred to the samernstandards as the other German Warmbloods, and are especially suitable forrndressage and show jumping, though they are used for combined driving, eventingrnand show hunter competition as well.rnrn 

rnrnThe region today known as Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was, untilrn1934, composed of the duchies of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Mecklenburg-Strelitz.rnHowever, the region was united by virtue of being under the rule of the Housernof Mecklenburg, so the histories of Schwerin, Strelitz and the otherrnMecklenburg duchies are intertwined. The history of warmblood horse breeding  - that is, a horse that was neither draft horse nor Arabian nor Thoroughbred - inrnMecklenburg is similar to that in the rest of Germany.rnrn 

rnrnMecklenburgers prior to World War II were all-purposernutility horses. Individual sires, families or breeders might specialize, butrnthe most economically efficient horse was one that had many uses. Primarily,rnthese uses were cavalry, transport, and agriculture.rnrn 

rnrnThe requirements for a cavalry horse were affected by threernmajor changes: the decline of the Knight after the 16th century, thernpopularization of firearms in the late 19th century, and mechanization in thernearly 20th century. Between the Middle Ages and mechanization, the idealrncavalry horse was athletic, agile and highly obedient. Cavalry horses wererntypically bred for the nobility, but horses belonging to other residents were trainedrnas "remounts." Following mechanization, the role of the cavalry horsernin Europe was diminished to ceremonial use.rnrn 

rnrnWhat was required of horses as part of transport wasrnaffected by similar advances: the advent of long-distance public stagecoachrntravel in the 16th century, the invention of the steam engine, andrnmechanization. Pulling stage coaches did not necessitate beauty, but endurance,rnefficiency and soundness. Large-scale train transport in Germany took hold laternin the 19th century and significantly reduced the need for stage horses. Morernelegant carriage horses with high-stepping gaits became more popular for short-distancerntraveling, as did saddle horses. Once again, mechanization all but negated thernhorse's role in transport.rnrn 

rnrnThe agricultural niche filled by the horse was also affectedrnby technological achievements. While plows became increasingly lighter and morernefficient over time, the primary factor in determining the qualities of arnregion's plow horse was the soil. Throughout the ages, the demand forrnagricultural horses was also affected by the local populations, fluctuations inrnwhich altered the demand for food. Periods of high growth meant higher foodrndemands, and more demand for plow horses. Yet again, mechanization followingrnWorld War II ousted the horse from this role.rnrn 

rnrnAn 1898 lithograph of a MecklenburgerDuring the 18th centuryrnwhen many of Germany's noble houses were establishing expansive stud farms tornsupply their courts with horses suitable for riding, driving, and cavalryrnpurposes, horse-breeding in Mecklenburg was chiefly motivated by large, privaternstud farms. Residents had some access to stallions owned by their rulers, but arnstate breeding program did not yet exist.rnrn 

rnrnBreeding efforts of renown were, however, taking place underrnthe Counts of Plessen by the houses of Bassewitz and Hahn. Indeed, thernversatile horses bred in the region were of distinctive easternrn(oriental) type and were well-known as coach, saddle, and utilityrnhorses. In horse breeding, the term "oriental" suggests the influencernof horses from the Middle East, including Arabian horses and Turkoman horses.rnAnother characteristic of Mecklenburg breeding is the early involvement withrnthe English Thoroughbred racehorse. The first-ever race track in Germany wasrncreated in 1822 at Bad Doberan, the summer retreat of the court of Schwerin.rnrn 

rnrnThe Royal Principal Stud, which kept a herd of mares inrnaddition to standing stallions, was founded in 1810 and was followed in 1812 byrnthe State Stud of Redefin. The breeding efforts of these two facilities wererncombined in 1819 by Joachim von Bülow, Senior State Equerry. In addition to thernnoble warmblood horses for which Mecklenburg was known, Joachim von Bülowrnpopulated the stud farms and their outposts with elegant Thoroughbredrnstallions. While the unusual affinity for part-Thoroughbred horses did notrnalways suit the needs of farmers in the region, Redefin supplied the State Studrnof Celle with stock year after year, including stallions like Jellachich andrnNorfolk that would become founders of the Hanoverian. Less than fifteen yearsrnafter being founded, Redefin was composed of over 134 stallions at 26 outposts.rnIn The Three Musketeers, written in the 1840s, d'Artagnan is given a vigorous Mecklenburg horse to ride.rnrn 

rnrnBy 1847, less than a fifth of the Redefin stallions werernwithout at least one Thoroughbred grandparent, a trait that began to affect thernsoundness and longevity of their offspring. In an effort to correct this, draftrnhorse stallions were put to use, but the result was merely a loss of thernidentifiable type. To regain the utilitarian warmblood type, which differedrnfrom the older coach horse type due to the advent of the steam locomotive,rnsuitable horses were purchased from Hannover. As a result of the regularrnexchange of breeding stock, Mecklenburgers and Hanoverians remained similar tornone another, and distinctly different from the heavier Oldenburgers andrnHolsteiners.rnrn 

rnrnMecklenburgers at the turn of the 20th century were bredrnmuch the same as their Hanoverian counterparts: stylish carriage and saddlernhorses, still suitable for plowing. As the locomotive replaced the stage coachrnfor long-distance travel, less efficiency of movement was required of drivingrnhorses, resulting in higher action. During World War I, however, horses werernused to pull artillery wagons and as remounts. In response, the horses werernbred to be heavier and calmer. By 1920, Redefin's roster of 176 state-ownedrnsires served over 10,000 mares at over 30 covering stations. But as the demandrnfor horses faded, so too did their numbers: in 1930, only half that numberrnremained. The stock of Redefin were influenced by a merger with NeustrelitzrnState Stud, reflecting the unification of Mecklenburg-Schwerin andrnMecklenburg-Strelitz.rnrn 

rnrnWorld War II produced a second upsurge in breeding of heavyrnhorses suitable for pulling artillery wagons, so that in 1945, there were 151rnMecklenburg stallions at 44 covering stations. After the end of the war, duringrnRussian occupation of the region, most of the Mecklenburger stallions were sentrneast.rnrn 

rnrnRedefin continued to function as the region's state studrnfarm, with a herd of mares and over 100 warmblood stallions. The market beganrnto turn towards the production of riding horses in the 1960s. This target wasrnstandardized in 1971 and by 1987, 100 state-owned stallions served the region.rnThe mare herd was sold, and Redefin lost the title of Principal state stud in 1993, following German reunification. Today Redefin is composedrnof 8 covering stations and stands 64 stallions, not all of which arernwarmbloods. Behind the grand entryway of Redefin now stands anrninternational-caliber riding facility.rnrn 

rnrnThe modern Mecklenburg warmblood is best identified by thernpresence of the region's brand on the left hip, which is in the form of thernletter M topped with a stylized crown. Coat color and pattern arernnot part of the standard, but most Mecklenburgers are modestly-marked bays,rnchestnuts, blacks, or grays. Like other German Warmbloods, the ideal height forrnMecklenburgers is between 15.3 hands high (hh) or 160 centimeters (cm) and 17hhrnor 170 cm at the withers. Breeding stock that deviate to the extreme may bernexcluded from the stud book.rnrn 

rnrnMecklenburgers, as warmbloods, are middle-weight, athleticrnanimals rather heavier than Thoroughbreds. Since German reunification in 1990,rnbreeders have pursued standards similar to those of the Hanoverian breeders.rnThe modern Mecklenburger can be called a noble warmblood (edlesrnwarmblut), distinguished from the older Heavy warmbloods by the influence ofrnThoroughbred and Arabian blood and specialization for riding.rnrn 

rnrnThe breeding goal is a hardy, fertile horse with mental andrnphysical stamina, a good character and lively, balanced temperament. Horses mayrnbe suited to any type of riding or driving sport due to expansive, regularrnpaces, a flat-footed walk and vibrant trot and canter. The best heads are fine,rndry, and expressive, with a tapering neck and strong topline, withersrnpronounced and well-laid back, the back strong but flexible, and the crouprnlong, sloping and muscular. The chest and shoulder should have depth andrnlength, respectively. The foundation should be dry on prominent, correct jointsrnand well-shaped hooves.rnrn 

rnrnWith international jumpers like Antik (Azarro), Chacco-Bluern(Chambertin), Luisa and Lady Like (Lord Kemm), Royal Beach Farao and Galanrn(Golden Miller), this small studbook is producing international competitors asrnwell as leisure riding horses and driving horses.

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