Trakehner Horses
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Trakehner Horses (official name: "The East PrussianrnWarmblood Horse of Trakehner Origin" ) are the oldest warmblood breed inrnthe world, with a history spanning amost 300 years. They originated from arnsmall horse, bred in East Prussia , known as the "Schwaike". ThernSchwaike was known for his versatility and endurance. When this breed wasrncrossed with imported English thoroughbred and Arabian stallions, the resultingrnhorse was named after the main stud it came from: Trakehnen. They originallyrnwere bred as Calvary mounts.
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In the early 18th century, King Friedrich Wilhelm I realizedrnthat a new type of cavalry mount was needed as war tactics had changed andrndemanded a faster, lighter horse that also possessed power and endurance. Inrn1732, he moved the best of his cavalry horses to the new royal stud farmrnTrakehnen and began to systematically breed a horse that would meet manyrncriteria. The new cavalry mounts had to be attractive enough to be arnrepresentative horse for his officers, but additionally had to be tough enoughrnto survive harsh situations and come out sound. Through his efforts, thernTrakehner breed evolved.

rnrnAt the same time, East Prussian farmers were breeding thernsame base of horses, but for the daily work in the fields. Soil in East Prussiarnis heavy and deep and farmers needed tough, hard-working, low-maintenance horsesrnto help plough their fields.
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East Prussia therefore had two separate, but equallyrnoutstanding sources for riding horses. The military and civilian herds werernmixed often, further consolidating the best possible traits. The main stud Trakehnenrnwas a huge compound, a city of its own, covering some 15.000 acres. Apart fromrnthe main complex, sixteen "Vorwerke" (more distant barns) were homernto the famous mare herds. The Trakehner horse was bred depending on its color;rnwhich may sound strange but made perfect sense once one takes intornconsideration that the differently colored herds also showed certain traitsrnthat were useful for the population. The black herd at Gurdzen for examplernconsisted of mares that had the most substance and were very strong andrnoutstanding "workers". Famous stallions like Ararad and Jagdheld wererncrossed with these mares, mainly to maintain a balance to the otherwise veryrnrefined Trakehners. Even today, these "heaviers" genes can comernthrough in the descendants of this great herd.The chestnut mares were collectedrnat Trakehnen itself. Descending from famous thoroughbreds like Thunderclap xx,rnthe chestnut mares were elegant, sensitive and exhibited the greatestrnperformance potential. One of the most successful dressage lines of all timesrnin warmblood breeding, the Hanovarian A-line, founded by the Trakehner stallionrnAbglanz, originated from the chestnut herd. Bay and brown mares were collectedrnat Kalpakin. They were known for outstanding temperament and again, excellent rideability.rnAnd at Bajorgallen, the "mixed herd" was stationed. There, mares ofrnall colors including gray were bred to many of the Arabian stallions.rnFoundation mares like Kassette and Donna came out of that exquisite group ofrnhorses and even today, 60 years after their time, they are the most prominentrnnames in the history of Trakehner horses.
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A chief sire at Trakehnen lived like a king. Each stallionrnhad a huge paddock that was fenced by trees and bushes. The stall was a stonernhouse, open to one side, built like a round pen with a luxury roof andrnbeautiful steel ornaments. Each stallion was assigned a private groom, alwaysrnolder and proven men that had spent their lives at Trakehnen and had thatrnspecial "6th horse sense" built in.It must have been a special viewrneach morning when the men opened the giant barn doors at Trakehnen and waves ofrngleaming horses made their way along the paths to the pastures. There were nornfences at Trakehnen, the horses were guarded by a man on a horse, watching overrn"his" friends every day. Weanlings were kept in large herds and hadrnall the freedom a young horse could dream of. At three-years-old colts werernstarted under saddle and thoroughly tested to determine their future: cavalry,rnriding horse or future sire for Trakehnen and the East Prussian local studs.rnObviously with so many high-quality horses, only the very best were chosen asrnpotential future sires. These - the cream of the crop - next underwent thernstallion performance test. Performance testing lasted a full year and was heldrnat Zwion, the state's stallion test station and the first of its kind in thernworld. The colts were driven, raced, used for hard fox hunting and eventing,rntrained in dressage and tested over jumps. All colts were evaluated thoroughlyrnon character, ride ability and temperament. Only the very best of thesernmagnificent animals were chosen to contribute to the prestigious gene pool atrnTrakehnen. rnrnrnrn
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By far more mares were distributed among the smallerrnbreeding farms of the East Prussian farmers than at Trakehnen. This resulted inrnan indigenous breed, which was the great advantage of the East Prussian asrnopposed to other breeds, since it made for a great consistency. Their qualityrnimproved as Trakehnen and the bigger private studs raised a large number ofrntheir foals. The state stallion depots and the riding and driving clubs formedrntheir backbone. At local and national shows, they competed with largerrnbreeders.
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Many Trakehner horses were used in World War II which, atrnthe end, nearly destroyed the breed as Soviet troops advanced from the East,rncausing flight and expulsion of Germans during and after WWII. The main Studrnand local residents were given permission to evacuate on 17 October 1944. Theirrnjourney West, known as Der Treck ("The Flight"), sent the horses on arndangerous journey in frigid conditions across the frozen Vistula lagoon withoutrnproper rations or shelter. It is considered one of the toughest tests to whichrnan entire breed of horses has been submitted.
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Refugee convoys were bombed while on the ice by the Sovietrnair force, so only a small number of horses made it to safety. 700 survivingrnhorses were accounted for. The horses left behind in East Prussia becamernimportant in the breeding of Russian breeds such as the Kirov as well as thernPolish Mazury (also known as the Masuren) and Pozan (or Poznan), which developedrninto the Wielkopolski. After the war, the breed, which once numbered tens of thousands,rnwas reduced to approximately 600 broodmares and 50 stallions in West Germany.rnThe last original Trakehner was Keith, born there in 1941, who died in Novemberrn1976 in Gilten shortly before his 35th birthday. On 23 October 1947 the EastrnPrussian Studbook Society was dissolved and the Association of Breeders andrnFriends of the Warmblood Horse of Trakehner Origin, known today as thernTrakehner Verband, was created. Among the greatest obstacles the organizationrnfaced was that unlike other German breeds, the Trakehner had no mother staternand could not depend on government funding. The re-establishment of the breedrnoriginally depended on the determination of its members and the largesse ofrnothers.

rnrnToday, in Germany, the breed is considered a federalrnresponsibility, with its governance falling under both the Trakehner Verbandrnand the Trakehner Gesellschaft mbH; the latter handling all businessrnoperations.
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Stallion inspections are held in Neumünster, Germany, eachrnOctober and approved stallions are required to complete extended performancerntests, which rate the horses' gaits, temperament, jumping ability, andrnsuitability over a cross country course, before being given full breedingrnlicenses.
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The Trakehner is used as a "refiner" of otherrnbreeds, allowing an infusion of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood without thernrisks often involved in first generation outcrosses. Influential stallionsrninclude Abglanz for the Hanoverian, Herbststurm who influenced the Oldenburg,rnMarco Polo for the Dutch Warmblood, the stallions Ibikus and Donauwind for thernDanish Warmblood, and Polarstern for the Swedish Warmblood.
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While Trakehner horses compete in nearly all equestrianrndisciplines, they are particularly prized as dressage mounts, due to theirrnsensitivity, intelligence, and way of going. Peron anchored the United Statesrnteam to an Olympic Bronze in 1996 at Atlanta. Abdullah, by Donauwind, isrnparticularly famous for his show jumping team gold and individual silver medalsrnat the 1984 Olympics and 1985 World Cup win. Heuriger was the 1994 show jumpingrnteam silver medalist at the 1994 World Equestrian Games.
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Due to their very light build, Trakehner horses tend to dornbetter in the eventing than most other warmblood breeds. One such example is thernUSA 2004 Olympic team bronze medallist Windfall II.
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Source: Trakehners International (www.trakehners-international.com)rnand Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trakehnerrn).rnrn

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