The Oldenburg, or Oldenburger, is a well-known warmblood breed from Lower Saxony in Germany. Oldenburgs are famous sport horses commonly used for dressage and show jumping.

Unlike some German warmbloods, Oldenburgs don’t have a state stud. Competitive private breeders developed the breed from a founding stock of carriage horses into one of the top sport horse studbooks in the world.

The Oldenburg Verband accepts stallions and mares from approved studbooks if they meet high standards for quality as a dressage or jumping horse. Despite these breeding standards, some Oldenburgs are still susceptible to certain health issues.

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

Oldenburg Horse History

The Oldenburg horse gets its name from the historical region of Oldenburg in the modern German state of Lower Saxony. These horses have a unique history and a forward-thinking breeding organization that stands out from other German breeds.

Origin

The origins of the Oldenburg horses trace back to state rulers from the House of Oldenburg. Count Johann XVI von Oldenburg began a breeding program in the late 16th century using Friesian mares and imported Turkish, Andalusian, Neapolitan, and Danish stallions.

His successor, Count Anton Gunther von Oldenburg, ardently promoted horse breeding. The Count brought back stallions from his travels all over Europe. He made the stallions available to his tenants for breeding during his rule from 1603 to 1667. [1]

Stallion inspections began in Oldenburg by 1755, eventually becoming mandatory for Oldenburg breeding stallions in 1820. Without a state stud controlling local breeding, private breeders could rapidly shift breeding directions to suit the market.

Demand for the luxury horses of Oldenburg rose, leading to the formation of the first registry in 1861 and two local breeding societies in 1897.

Historic Use

The House of Oldenburg’s breeding programs developed horses for use as war mounts. Local tenants crossed the Count’s stallions with hardy local horses they used to work the heavy regional soil.

Early inspections favoured stylish, high-stepping horses suitable for pulling carriages. But the breed continued to work as local farm horses. Private breeders sold the in-demand carriage horses throughout Europe.

After the automobile replaced horse-drawn carriages, Oldenburg breeders focused on developing the ideal riding horse for sport and leisure. Anglo-Norman, Thoroughbred, and French sires crossed on time-tested Oldenburg mare lines helped reshape the breed.

Outside blood from other Warmbloods continues to modernize Oldenburgs today as sport horse breeding programs focus on producing ultimate equine athletes. Studies of selection signatures in German breeds found close relationships between the Hanoverian and Oldenburg. [2]

Breed Registry

Verband der Zuchter des Oldenburger Pferdes (OL) was formed in 1923 by merging the first two Oldenburg breed societies. The organization’s early breeding directions primarily focused on producing dressage horses.

Springpferdezuchtverband Oldenburg-International (OS) was later founded in 2003 to focus exclusively on breeding show jumpers.

Oldenburger Pferdezuchtverband, also called the German Oldenburg Verband (GOV), is the umbrella organization that unites the OL with the OS. [3]

The Verband organizes auctions and selections of Oldenburg horses throughout the year. Every fall, the organization hosts “Stallion Days” in Vechta, a licensing evaluation for young stallions and a horse show for fully approved stallions.

The Oldenburg Horse Breeders’ Society is the North American Division of the GOV. While the ISR Oldenburg Registry North America uses the breed’s name, this organization is not affiliated with the GOV.

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Breed Characteristics

The Oldenburg Verband approves horses with different ancestries for breeding, but all of these horses earn approval based on desirable characteristics.

Conformation

The GOV’s official breeding objective for Oldenburg horses is, “A noble, long-lined, correct, high-performance and healthy sport horse shall be bred with energetic, spacious, elastic movements, that is suitable for sport purposes of every kind due to its predisposition.” [3]

Oldenburg horses should measure between 15.3 and 16.3 hands at