August 22, 2008 | | Comments 0

Schleswiger Heavy Draft Horse

Schleswiger Horse

Schleswiger Horse

In Search of the Schleswiger Heavy Draft

It is rare these days to find a purebred Schleswiger Heavy Draft. Although it is a very useful and appealing draft horse, it has come to share a similar fate as most other draft horses. Its close extinction is directly related to the changing times.

Schleswiger Heavy Draft Horse Origins

As a draft horse type, the Schleswiger is obviously a workhorse. It is highly probable though that the ancestors of these horses did more than just agricultural work or cart pulling. Like other draft horses, the Schleswiger descended from the large war horses of the middle ages. Since this period of armored knights was also the era of feudalism, warhorses gradually became agricultural animals too.

The modern Schleswiger actually has a very recent history. It does not take much to trace and recount the breeding history of this horse breed. Aside from sharing a common indirect origin with other draft horses, it also has a simple and unassuming past. The Schleswiger was most likely bred in the early part of the second half of the 1800s. The many different breeds used for creating the breed however were not entirely successful at producing a new desirable and useful breed. That was until the Jutland breed was introduced. It can therefore be correctly concluded that the direct ancestors of the Schleswiger were the Jutlands. To further improve the budding breed, other influences were introduced. This included English and Danish breeds of horses.

By the late 1880s, breeders realized that they needed to clearly split the breeding of cold blooded horses and warm blooded ones. It was thus only a few years later when a formal society for Schleswiger breeders was established. Even a formal organization though would not be able to spare this horse breed from the fate that awaited nearly all European draft breeds.

The dawn of the 1900s also brought with it the winds of change. The beginning of a new era was punctuated with two world wars and the increasing appeal of machines. New machines in particular were deemed better work tools than draft horses because the machines worked faster and more accurately, thereby improving productivity. By the 1970s, the society of Schleswiger breeders died out and the number of stallions left could already be counted in one hand. It was only a little over a decade ago that a new society was formed. Today, the fight continues for the preservation and promotion of this breed.

Schleswiger Heavy Draft Horse Traits

The Schleswiger is set at about 15.2 to 16 hands. By designation as a heavy draft horses they should look much like a typical draft horse. They are not however quite the massive type. They have short necks and legs and a long back which seems to add to the impression that they are shorter than they really are. Even so, they are generously muscled and have deep chests. Most Schleswigers are chestnut but they can also be bay or black.

Today, this breed is still used for some farm work and for pulling loads. In reality though, the days of agricultural horses are truly past. Schleswiger horses are now mainly kept by loyal fans of the breed who enjoy using their horses during leisure rides.

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