|First Posted: Oct 5, 2010|
May 7, 2013
An Austrian Warmblood is a warmblood type of horse registered with the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Warmblutzucht in Österreich (Association of Warmblood Breeding in Austria (AWÖ)). Although the studbook is made up of jumping and dressage horses from many other countries, the mare base consists of native horses with a long history. The AWÖ keeps an open studbook, in which mares and stallions must pass rigorous inspections before becoming breeding stock.
The Austrian Warmblood is bred for dressage and show jumping, but also for recreational riding by amateurs, following strict selection procedures that keep horses that do not fit the standard from breeding. The standard reads:
"Desirable is a noble, long-lined, correct and powerful Warmblood horse with good movement and jumping ability, suited to any type of recreational riding. The breeding aim shall be achieved through a comprehensive system of performance tests for mares and stallions, leading to improved selection for dressage or jumping qualities. Of great importance for the Austrian Warmblood breeders are rideability, good character, willingness, and balanced temperament."
While all breeding stock must measure at least 158 cm (15.2 hands high) at the withers, the ideal height is from 164 to 168 cm (16.0 to 16.2hh). Shagya Arabians are an exception, as they are permitted so long as they reach 150 cm (14.3hh). The ideal cannon bone circumference is 20 to 22 cm (7.9" to 8.7").
While the AWÖ does not disallow any colors or markings, the Old Austrian Warmbloods tended to be of uniform color, allowing them to be matched better in harness configurations. For instance, the Nonius is almost uniformly dark and unmarked, the Gidran is entirely chestnut, the Shagya largely grey, and so on. Therefore, coat colors apart from the usual black, brown, bay, chestnut, and grey would likely need to be introduced from an outside source. While there is a Pinto studbook under the ZAP, none of the stallions presently standing for Austria are of unusual coat colors.
In the past, Austrian horses had little variation in registered names. Most horses had their family's name (Furioso, for example) and a combination of Roman and Arabic numbers. Today, an Austrian Warmblood colt has a name beginning with the same letter as his sire's name (Belmondo by Belluno), and a filly has a name beginning with the same letter as her dam's name (Dragona out of Dravida).
The most reliable way to recognize an Austrian Warmblood is by the brand, which is given to foals on their left hip and is in the form of a stylized "A".
The Nonius, Furioso-North Star, Shagya, Gidran, and several other strains are often collectively referred to as the Altösterreichische Pferderassen ("Old-Austrian Horse Breeds"). These horses formed the native mare base on which the Austrian Warmblood was founded.
The stallion licensing for Austrian Warmbloods occurs in Stadl-Paura during February. It follows closely the procedures used in Germany; exceptional young stallions are given the title Prämienhengst (Premium Stallion), a champion and reserve champion are awarded, and the announcement of results is followed by an auction. The performance test is also held in Stadl-Paura, commencing in June. Mare and foal shows are held by the regional member associations. Mares that exceed the standard in terms of pedigree, conformation, movement, and performance in Austria can also earn the Staatsprämienstute (States Premium Mare) title. The "premium" was formerly awarded to bribe breeders into keeping their top mares in the region.
Though the AWÖ is a young registry, their history of amending the criteria for breeding stock suggests a progressive attitude towards producing the best riding horse possible. The AWÖ is a member of the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH). The studbooks comprise about 2,500 mares and 80 stallions.
The best place to see Austrian Warmbloods is in Austria. In addition to the auction of young stallion candidates and gelding prospects that follows the stallion licensing, there are a number of auctions for foals, riding horses, and elite horses throughout the year, usually in Stadl-Paura.
For More Information:Equine Database/EAAP Horse Commmission Website