The Black Forest Heavy Horse
is an excellent and reliable companion for the whole family. With their all-round talents, the Black Forest Horses like to please their owners and are always up for a little fun.
The Black Forest Horse is a beautiful ‘mid-size’ horse (between 148-160cm = 14.3-16.0 hh) dating back many centuries - in 1896, a breeding association was founded who established the first official stud books. It is a ‘lighter weight’ heavy horse, with clear dry joints, correct conformation and for a heavy horse, large ground covering paces. The Black Forest horses make stunning driving and riding horses. They are also still used as draft horses to work in the forests, which was their original purpose.
The Black Forest Horses are usually light to dark chestnut coloured with magnificent big blonde manes and tales which definitely catch the eye. Other colours are rare.
The breeding goals as defined by the association owning the studbook include:
- Physical appearance and beauty
- Strength and Sturdiness
- Calm and balanced temperament
- Kindness and Commitment
- Fertility and Longevity
Like most heavy horses and some breeds, the Black Forest Horse was in danger of being extinct. In the mid 1970’s there was only a very small number of registered stallions and mares left. From 1976 the government agreed to a conservation programme. Marbach State Stud and the breeding association are keeping the heritage of these exceptional horses and in recent years, the demand has increased again due to their extraordinary characteristics.
Their looks certainly draw the attention and daily life with a Black Forest Horse means:
- They love their work (riding, driving or draft horse work)
- Even riders with long legs look good on them and can easily do up to elementary dressage or small jumps
- They can run like the wind whilst keeping a calm and relaxed temperament
- They are interested in new things and are not easily spooked by them
- They love to be part of the human and horse family from early days on
- And don't worry, if you don't have time to ride or drive for a while, they are happy on the field and will pick up work again without any fuss
Licensing for brood mares and stallions
Black Forest foals will receive the brand (a Black Forest tree) if their parents are both registered in the studbooks. For registration, the stallions and mares have to pass a licensing test, which will be described in the following.
Young stallions can only be considered for licensing if they have the brand, i.e. both parents are registered and their dams will have to have passed their licensing test with a mark of 7.0 and better (out of ten).
At the licensing test, the Black Forest horse needs to pass a draft and a driving test. The horses will be judged according to the breeding goals which include performance, willingness to work, correct conformation, elastic and ground covering movements and also by a good character.
Foals are usually presented at the recognised shows, the most important one takes place once a year in October in St. Märgen, the “birthplace“ of the Black Forest horse.
Foals will be presented and in accordance with the breeding goals they are rewarded points and “gold or silver foal”. The mares who are registered can be presented for “state prime/premium mare”, and the stallions can be winner of their licensing group.
Whilst conservation of the original horse is paramount, modern requirements are also considered and the breed is allowed to develop within certain boundaries.
A significant amount of stallions is held with Marbach State Stud, the mares are with recognised private breeders in the area, some of which also keep licensed stallions and offer them for breeding.
The development of the Black Forest Horse population
As mentioned earlier, this breed nearly got extinct in the mid 1970’s due to modernisation in farming and the increasing demand for the modern sports warmblood horse. Only 4 registered stallions and 159 mares were left and in 1976 the government decided to step in and agreed to a conservation breeding programme via Marbach State Stud and the association.
To avoid cross-breeding, stallions of the following breeds were introduced: Noriker, Freiberger and Schleswiger. Based on the original Black Forest stallions and the other breeds, six bloodlines were established, with the following current stallions:
- M-Line: Moritz, Max, Modest, Montan, Modus, Maximus, LVV Modem, Monsun, Mönchbräu, LVV Modigliani, Malteser
- R-Line: Riemer, Remus, Revisor, Respekt, Ravelsberg, Rubin
- D-Line: Dachsberg, Donnergroll, Dinkelberg, Domingo, Dachs
- W-Line: Wilderer, Wildhüter, Wildfuchs, Wilder Retter
- F-Line: Feldsee, Federweiser, Federsee, Felsberg, Feldbach
- V-Line: Vogtsberg, Vogt, Vento
In 2009 the number of horses had increased and 716 mares and 34 stallions were officially registered. Still a fairly rare breed, the numbers are luckily still on the rise and demand for the Black Forest Horse keeps growing due to their fantastic traits.