The Czech Republic and Slovakia were one country until very recently (have you heard about Czechoslovakia?) – they split into two in 1993, after a long and chequered history. Despite the fact that they used to be one, they are very different countries and as such they have very different native horse breeds. There aren’t many Czech and Slovak horse breeds, but they certainly have made an impact on the world.
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This horse is the sorts horse of the Czech Republic. It was established by the beginning of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (1876), and is a well-loved national treasure. It has been influenced in its time by Italian and Spanish horses, and also by the German Warmblood.
The Czech Warmblood is a strong, powerful horse with good bones and feet. Despite their strength they are also elegant, and are well known for their willingness to learn and good temperaments. They stand around 16 hands, and most are black, chestnut or shades of bay.
They were originally bred as working horses for farm and transport, but these days you will find Czech Warmbloods performing dressage, show jumping, racing, as well as being used for farm and forest work.
This horse is relatively rare nowadays, but at one point in its history it was wildly sought after, being Europe’s first sports horse. Named after the Kinsky family, a branch of Bohemian nobility, the Kinsky horse came about through an order to the family to produce horses for the Emperor’s cavalry in the early 18th century. The focus was on horses with stamina, boldness ad a good temperament, especially those that would be loyal to their riders in battle.
In 1776 the quality of the horses was improved with horses from England, and they began to be used for racing as well as for the military. After the Communist takeover much of the Bohemian nobility fled the country, but Count Radslav Kinsky returned in 1989 and founded a club called “Equus Kinsky” in order to save the breed.
The Kinsky horse stands between 15.2 and 17 hands, and due to the cream dilution gene most have coats in various shades of almost metallic gold. Bay, chestnut and black also exist, but the golden colors are more highly prized.
Whatever their color, these horses are unusually friendly and are very inclined towards humans; they have been bred for their character for generations. This is a multi purpose horse, being used for dressage, show jumping, fox hunting, polo and eventing, as well as for police and military purposes.
The Kladruber is the oldest Czech horse breed, as well as being one of the world’s oldest horse breeds. This horse has been bred for almost 400 years, and is based on imported Spanish and Italian horses, crossed with heavy Czech breeds as well as Neapolitan, Danish, Holstein, Irish and Oldenburgs.
Initially developed to be “Galakarosier”, or heavy carriage horse, used to pull the Imperial coach, the Kladruber is a well set breed due to its small gene pool and history of selective breeding.
These horses are big, between 16.2 and 17 hands, and are broad and strong with the height. Because they were initially bred as carriage horses, they retain much of the physical characteristics that make them suitable for this, including a long back and a short croup, which allows high-stepping gaits in a driving horse.
The breed is strictly gray or black, though originally it came in a variety of colors including palomino and appaloosa. These days they are mostly used for harness work, combined driving and for light draft and agriculture. They have a calm nature which makes them ideal for this sort of work.
Czechoslovakian Small Riding Pony
The development of this small riding pony began in 1980, using mainly Arabian stock but also Hanoverain, Slovak Warmblood and Hucul, crossed with Welsh pony stallions. Kept outside in the rugged terrain of Nitra in Slovakia, these ponies grew to become strong, hardy and sure footed, with fantastic winter coats.
They stand between 13.2 and 13.3 hands and come in most solid colors, and have an alert but calm temperament. They are used as riding ponies for children, and have good gaits and jumping ability.
Bearing a a strong resemblance to the now-extinct Tarpan, the Hucul is thought to be an ancient breed originating at least 400 years ago. It comes form the Carpathian mountain range of Eastern Europe and has a heavy build and great stamina and hardiness.
These ponies stand between 12.1 and 13.1 hands, and are usually black, chestnut, bay and dun, and some individuals exhibit primitive markings. Hucul ponies are docile, trusting, sensible and hard working, and so are suited for therapeutic riding, trekking, general riding as well as for farm work.
Although it is not an “official” breed, this one is becoming more popular. It is a cross between the Hungarian Halfbred, Oldenburg, East Frisian, Trakehner and Hanoverian, with some other breeds thrown in there. It is being developed in the Czech Republic, and produces both a light and massive type within the breed.
They average about 16 hands, and are generally bay, chestnut, gray, black, dun or palomino. They have a good temperament and are easy to train, and are generally used as riding or sport horses as well as for driving and leisure purposes.