|First Posted: Sept 30, 2010|
Oct 4, 2010
The Rottaler was originally bred in the Rott valley of Bavaria, and was used as the foundation for the Bavarian Warmblood. Systematic breeding in the region dates back to 1558, when the first duke, Albrecht IV, imported popular Neapolitan and Spanish stallions. As a result of highly organized breeding efforts - the earliest exterior evaluations directed breeding and prizes or "premiums" were offered to bribe breeders not to export the best horses - by the 1800s visitors took great notice of the Rottal horses.
In keeping with the times, Rottalers were expected to be versatile enough to pull the plow during the week and the carriage to church on Sundays. Throughout the 19th century, Anglo-Norman, Cleveland Bay and Oldenburg horses were imported to keep the Rottaler vibrant, and by 1906 the Rottaler Warmblood Horse Breeding Association was formed. In 1963, the breeding aim was redirected towards the production of more agile, sensitive riding horses, and the brand was changed from "R" to "B". The Rottaler mares were bred to Hanoverians and Westphalians, and over successive generations, the breed threatened to disappear forever. It wasn't until 1991 that the Rottaler was re-established within the Bavarian association, and by that time there were scant few lines left. However, what struck the spectators at the first inspection of Rottaler mares in 1994 was the vitality of the mares, which had an average age of over 15.
Today there are only a few Rottalers left, but about 20 breeders in Bavaria are actively preserving the breed and the breed receives federal support. Rottalers are similar to the other heavy warmbloods in type, though due to consistent use of Arab blood, they have more refined heads. They are excellent all-purpose ride-and-drive horses, with sufficient talent in dressage and jumping. They are promoted as a good choice for vaulting horses.