The Oldenburg Horse: The Good-Natured Riding Horse

3 min.

The story of the German breed, the Oldenburg horse, began in 17th century Germany. It was founded by Count Anton of Oldenburg, who had a great interest in horse breeding. He added Friesian blood to a Southern European horse of Neapolitan and Iberian descent, and immediately made his mark in the history books. Anton knew very well that the result would be a powerful carriage horse, and the project was a great success.

What he probably didn’t know at the time was that his creation – hundreds of years later – would become a popular riding horse across national borders.

Photo: Stud farm Horsebjerg

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In the 19th century, the breed was mixed with other breeds such as the Cleveland Bay. The German military needed a horse to pull the heaviest cannons, and the Oldenburg horse became the foundation. After World War II, it was bred to adapt to the growing interest in competition and recreational riding. English Thoroughbred and Trakehner bloodlines were introduced to give it more athletic characteristics.

The result was a modern riding horse that began to win medals in show jumping and dressage.


There are, of course, various variations in appearance, but the Oldenburg horse usually bears a visible resemblance to both the Cleveland Bay and the English Thoroughbred. Whether you see a dressage horse, show jumper, carriage horse, or the perfect horse for a forest ride, there are several physical characteristics that are common across individuals.

The Oldenburg horse has an elegantly shaped head with slim, pointed ears. The eyes are large and expressive. The neck is medium in length but strong. The chest is often broad between the sloping shoulders. The back is slightly arched and long but sturdy. The hindquarters are muscular, and the legs have strong, flexible muscles that end in medium-sized, powerful hooves. The coat is usually solid-colored, with black, brown, and red being the most common. It often has markings around the hooves and head. The height is around 165-175 cm but can vary.


Over time, many breeders have been charmed by the breed and have contributed to adjusting the version of the Oldenburg horse we know today. Where it was once heavy just a few decades ago, it has now become a much sportier riding horse with a temperament suitable for a career as a competition horse. In recent decades, nostalgia has grown, and in many places, it has once again been used as a dedicated carriage horse.

Read also: Belgian Draught Horse: Big, Bigger, Strongest

Photo: Stud farm Horsebjerg


With its captivating appearance, the Oldenburg horse also impresses in most disciplines and even in everyday life. It is typically easy to feed, maintains good condition, and is often a hardy type. This horse, with its many talents, is highly suitable regardless of your level of riding ambition.

For future horse owners, the Oldenburg horse is worth considering. And perhaps considering again. Because a horse with such versatility and range undoubtedly deserves a bright future. So, if you like an all-around horse where you can try a bit of everything or if you want a dedicated show jumping or dressage horse, the Oldenburg horse is a good choice.

Sources: Esposito, L. (2005). ‘HESTE, Illustreret Opslagsværk.’ Briggs, P., 2nd revised edition, 1st edition. Aktium.

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