The Hanoverian horse is a popular warmblood breed from Lower Saxony in Germany. Also known as the Hannoveraner in German, the breed produces some of the most successful sport horses in the world.

Hanoverians have won gold medals in all three Olympic equestrian disciplines, a testament to their versatility. This success is largely attributed to a rigorous selection process that transformed the breed from carriage and military horses into elite performance mounts.

While high breeding standards contribute to the overall health of the Hanoverian population, improper care and management can still result in health issues. Additionally, some Hanoverian lines are known to carry rare genetic defects, which are primarily found in warmblood breeds.

This breed profile will discuss the history, characteristics, health problems, and nutritional needs of the Hanoverian breed. Keep reading to learn more about feeding and caring for Hanoverian horses.

Hanoverian Horse History

Hanoverians get their name from the town of Hanover, the largest city in the German state of Lower Saxony. The official state stud for the breed opened in Celle, Germany nearly 300 years ago. Today, Hanoverian breeding in Germany centers around the Hannoveraner Verband in Verden.

Origin

Selective breeding of horses in the Hanover region traces back to the 16th century. King George II of England, Elector of Hanover, founded the State Stud at Celle in 1735. The stud introduced central registrations and gave local breeders access to imported stallions.

Holsteiner, Thoroughbred, Spanish, Cleveland Bay, Neapolitan, and Mecklenburg stallions crossed with the local mares. English Thoroughbreds and half-thoroughbred stallions were used extensively in the early 19th century. [1]

In 1844, laws were enacted requiring stallions to receive approval from a commission before being used for breeding. Breeders formed the first society to consolidate the native lines of Hanover in 1867 and published the first studbook in 1888.

Historic Use

Farmers in the Hanover region bred all-purpose horses for agricultural work. The state stud also developed the local horses as cavalry mounts. Early Hanoverians were popular high-class coach horses by the end of the 18th century.

Selective breeding and stallion approvals helped continually improve the quality of local horses. The first breed societies aimed to produce the ideal horse for coach and military use. [2]

Priorities shifted after World War II, with the decline of working horses and the growing demand for general riding and sport horses. Breeders used additional Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arabian, and Trakehner stallions to adapt the Hanoverian into the modern sport type. [2]

One study analyzing genetic variability in Hanoverian horses found Thoroughbreds contributed almost 35% of the genes found in the breed. The researchers also found Trakehner and Arabian contributions of 8 and 2.7%, respectively. [1]

Modern Hanoverians have similar patterns of genetic variation as Oldenburg horses, indicating extensive breeding between the studbooks. [2]

Today, certain breeds are not eligible for breeding with Hanoverians including:

Breed Registry

Headquartered in Verden, the Hannoveraner Verband is the official breed organization for Hanoverian horses worldwide. The Verband oversees breeding stock inspection, horse registrations, and licensing and performance testing for stallions.

The Verden Auctions offer collections of foals, broodmares, and riding horses throughout the year to connect breeders with potential owners. The Stallion Licensing and Stallion Sales in the fall is the highlight of the Verden event calendar.

Outside stallions from approved registries can also participate in the stallion licensing. All stallions have to pass strict evaluations and performance requirements to gain approval. Mares also participate in inspections and performance tests to evaluate conformation, gaits, and talent. [3]

The American Hanoverian Society works closely with the German Hanoverian Verband to manage Hanoverian breeding in North America. Only foals from inspected and approved parents are eligible for registrations.