Danish Warmblood

About the Breed

The Danish Warmblood breed was originally known as the Danish Sports Horse. In 1980, there was a name change to the Danish Warmblood that we acknowledge today. The Danish Warmblood breed itself is considered to be the youngest of all European Warmblood Breeds, with the first official recognition coming in 1962. At this time, only 150 mares, mostly of German origin, were registered with the Breeding Association. Initially, the Frederiksborg horses were bred with Thoroughbreds to create the foundation of the breed we know today. Since the 1960's, numerous other breeds have made contributions to the Danish Warmblood as a whole. These breeds include: the Trakehner; the Hanoverian; the Oldenburg; the Holsteiner; the Wielkopolski; and the Selle Francais.

The breed is known for being an elegant riding horse with a large frame, similar to that of the Thoroughbred, but with a more substantial build. They are said to be courageous and spirited, multi-talented, loyal, easily trained, obedient, with excellent temperaments, good free action, and an eagerness to perform. They are also touted as being very cooperative, intelligent, alert, and social creatures.

There were quite a few changes not just to the breed in the latter part of the 20th century. In 1962, there were two Danish Saddle Horse Breed Associations in existence; the Danish Sport Horse Society and the Danish Light Horse Association. These two associations merged in 1978 to form the Danish Warmblood Society. The studbooks from the organizations were merged slightly later in 1979. In 1986, Her Royal Highness Princess Benedikte took on patronage of the studbook and was named the patroness of the Danish Warmblood breed. In 1994, Jan Pedersen was elected President of the Danish Warmblood Studbook and continues in this capacity today. Finally, in 2001, the North American Danish Warmblood Association was created to help promote the breed in the United States.

The original goal of the Danish Warmblood Society was to breed an all-around sport horse. However, after 2004, the goal has shifted to producing either a top show jumper or a top dressage horse. Through the past several decades, Denmark continues to provide the international equestrian scene with top quality sport horses. They are able to do this in two ways. The first key to success is the fact that their studbook is open as this facilitates contributions from the very best genetic stock to continue to improve the breed. They claim that breeding policy and goals are constantly adjusted to meet the demand of those who love the breed. The second way is by being uncompromising when it comes to selecting quality mares and stallions through performance testing; they are said to be happier with a smaller pool of horses that are held to an extremely high standard.

Performance testing is key to the success of the breed by ensuring that high standards are maintained. The testing is arranged by the Danish Warmblood Society and evaluates both mares and stallions each year. Approximately 1,000 mares compete at regional shows. The top 80 mares are evaluated at a second judging in August in Vilhelmsborg. Mares are welcome to stay at Vilhelmsborg until they undergo a 100-day long performance test. Stallions are first judged at 2.5 years of age, and approximately 300 come each year for an initial inspection. On average, only 80 will go on to a more rigorous test at Herning. Here at Herning, the top 25 stallions receive approval for a breeding license which is good for one year. When these stallions reach 3 years of age, they are required to participate in a 100-day long performance test at Vilhelmsborg.

Each year, about 4,700 mares are bred to 140 stallions, and around 3000 foals are both born and registered annually. The resulting foals are carefully inspected at regional shows. Those that succeed at the testing are officially registered and receive a brand with a three-pointed crown riding above a wave. This brand symbolizes a kingdom surrounded by the sea; very fitting indeed!

Quick Facts

Height: 15.3 - 17 hands

Weight: 900 - 1100 pounds

Coat Colors: All solid colors with black, chestnut, bay, and dark brown being most common.

Markings: Standard white markings, minimal

Conformation: They have well-defined heads, large and expressive eyes, and long and sloping shoulders with pronounced withers. Their necks are muscular with a good length of rein, their chests are deep and broad, and their backs are strong and compact.

Common Uses: Dressage and show jumping

Temperament: Brave, intelligent, alert, cooperative

Place of Origin: Denmark

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