If you cannot see images at all on my site click here for an explanation
Horse Breeds
First Posted: July 2, 2009
Sep 24, 2010

Kladruber, Kladruby, Oldkladruby or Kladrubák (Czech)Horse

Kladruber Horse

Country of Origin: Czech Republic (Developed in the Habsburg Empire)

Breed Standards

Czech Kladruber studbook: Breed Standards - The Kladruber (Czech Kladrubský kun) is the oldest Czech horse breed, and today is considered very rare. The main breeding centre is in National stud farm Kladruby nad Labem in Czech republic where Kladrubers have been bred for more than 400 years, being now one of the world's oldest horse breeds. Kladrubers have always been bred to be a galakarosier - a heavy type of carriage horse for the court of the House of Habsburg.

Breed History

Time line of Imperial stud farm Kladruby nad Labem

1491 Pernstein family has bought the Pardubice estate, later including Kladruby park
1560 Maxmilian II. (emperor since 1563) was given the Pardubice estate with Kladruby park as a gift from the Czech estates
1562 Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor has founded an old-Spanish horse stud farm in Kladruby
1579 Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor gave the stud farm an Imperial Court Stud Farm statute
1757 Stud farm (with studbook documents) has burned down
1770 Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor has rebuilt the stud farm
1764 born Pepoli, founding stallion of the gray variety of Kladrubers
1787 born Generale, gray stallion
1797 born Generalissimus, gray stallion
1800 born Sacramoso, black stallion
1844 new Empire (style) stables built
1918 the stud farm managed by the newly established Czechoslovakia
1922 Napoleone bloodline extinct
1995 Kladruber breed was designated a Czech Historic Landmark
2002 Kladruby stud farm and the basic herd of gray Kladrubers was designated a Czech National Historic Landmark
2005 Kladrubers serve on ceremonial occasions at Royal Court of Sweden and are used by mounted police of Sweden as well


Bred in Kladruby nad Labem national stud, the Kladruber breed is almost 400 years old, yet is remarkably rare (90 mares as of 1995). Kladruby stud was founded in 1579 by Rudolf II as an Imperial stud, at the Perlstein stables. The breed was based on imported Spanish (such as the Andalusian) and Italian horses, crossed with Neapolitan, Danish, Holstein, Irish, and Oldenburg blood, in addition to the heavy Czech breeds. The animal was first developed to be a galakarosier; a heavy type of carriage horse used to pull the imperial coach, usually in a four- or six-in-hand, at ceremonies and funerals. It originally came in a variety of colors, including palomino and appaloosa, although today the breed is strictly gray or black, due to a breeding program requiring 18 "white" (i.e. fully mature grays) and 18 black stallions for various ceremonies of the court.

Black Kladruber stallions at Prague photo: Hanka CertíkThe stud was evacuated during the Seven Years' War to Kopcany, Slovakia and Enyed, Hungary. Due to a fire in 1757, the earliest 200 years of breeding records were lost, and the stud was dissolved before the remaining breeding stock was brought back to the a new stud in Kladruby. The surviving records show a particular influence by several stallions on the herd of gray Kladrubers:

Pepoli: a gray who sired the colt Generale in Kopcany in 1787. Generale is thought to be the progenitor of all gray Kladrubers today, and he produced the son Generalissimus (1797) who produced a separate lineage.

Maestoso (1773) and Favory (1779): born in Kladruby, became two of the six founding Lipizzaner stallion lineages. Favory returned to Kladruby after WWII, to add new blood to the decimated herd.
Barzoi and Legion: Orlov Trotters added new blood between WWI and WWII.
Rudolfo: A Lusitano from Portugal, added new blood after WWII.

Members of the "white" (actually gray) herd - The herd of black Kladrubers had two particular influential stallions, Sacramoso (born 1799) and Napoleone (born 1845), and was regenerated in Slatinany. The black and white Kladrubers have several differences due to their breeding. The white is finer, more Thoroughbredish in type, and usually taller than the black. The black has more Neapolitan blood, and thus is heavier, has a shorter croup, a different head and neck, and a more "Nordic" look to it.

Pepoli's bloodlines are still bred at the Kladruby Stud, but the herd of black horses sired by Sacromoso and Nepoleone was destroyed in the 1930s, after many of the animals were sold for meat. Despite the decimated herd, a few horses were saved and efforts have been made by breeders to re-establish their bloodlines at a new stud in Slatinany, at The Research Institute for Horse Breeding.

Breed Characteristics

Kladrubers in harness - Modern Kladrubers are usually gray. Many stand between 16.2 and 17 hands high 66 to 68 inches (170 to 170 cm) and primarily used in harness. They are suitable for light draft and agriculture, and can be seen at the international levels in the sport of combined driving. This FEI sport makes good use of the Kladruber's calm nature, endurance, and relative speed. The Kladruber is also occasionally crossbred with lighter breeds to produce a more suitable riding horse, usually for dressage.

Due to their small gene pool and long history of selective breeding, Kladruber type is well "set" and they possess recognizable breed characteristics. Many of these characteristics, such as a prominent Roman or convex facial profile, have been retained from their Baroque ancestors. While the relatively upright shoulder, pasterns and hooves, long back, and short croup are not desirable in a riding horse, these qualities allow independence and freedom of the forehand and hind end. This freedom in turn permits elegant, high-stepping gaits. The high-set, powerful and well-arched neck of the Kladruber was a trademark feature of their Spanish-Neapolitan ancestors, and not only contributes to their appearance in harness, but in conjunction with rather low withers, makes a harness more comfortable for the horse. A horse of substance, the Kladruber possesses a deep, broad chest and sound legs with large joints and hooves. Their legs are unfeathered, though the mane and tail are thick and flowing, and the features are lean rather than fleshy. All gaits, though most especially the trot, should have high action and elasticity with a clear cadence. Their colors are black or gray only.

For More Information:

Oklahoma State University - Breed of Livestock
Kladruby Horse/Calvero
Kladruby Horse-International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds
Old Kladruby Carriage Horse

Horse Breeds