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Oldenburg Breed Description

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Breed Organization

The International Sporthorse Registry ISR - Oldenburg Registry North America

Native Country

Other Names

Adult Height
Between 16h - 18h

Adult Weight

General Description

The International Sporthorse Registry (ISR) was founded in 1982 as a service organization for American breeders who wanted to breed sport horses according to the methods and high standards developed in Europe. The International Sporthorse Registry's breeding philosophy of utilizing the best available breeding stock - regardless of breed or brand - was adapted from the German Oldenburg Verband in 1982. This was the foundation of the Oldenburg breed in North America.

The ISR established the Oldenburg Registry North America (OLD NA) for all stallions and mares that fulfill the high quality requirements and pedigree standards established by European registries. The principal goal of assisting the development of top performance horses in North America by establishing effective and uniform standards of evaluation and measurement lead to the implementation of:

- Evaluation, certification and licensing requirements for Breeding Stallions
- Evaluation of mares and foals prior to registration by qualified independent judges
- Performance testing for Stallions
- Registration documentation for horses accepted into the registry and their offspring
- Maintenance of a data base of breeding results for registered stallions and mares
- Providing ongoing services to member breeders

Additionally, the ISR/OLD NA established the goal to maintain an open Sporthorse Registry, believing most horses of "sport horse type" should be eligible for consideration for entry into the Registry, while maintaining an effective and uniform standard for evaluation. Therefore, warmblood breeds and Thoroughbreds are assured consideration within the established criteria guidelines.

The breeding goal is a noble, large-framed and correct horse with dynamic, spacious and elastic movements - well suited for dressage, hunter classes, show-jumping or eventing because of its temperament, character and rideability. This is the common breeding goal for sport horses all over the world. The Oldenburg's head is fine and noble, well set into the neck with a good throatlatch. The neck has to be sufficiently long with a good slooping line and a good head/neck connection. The shoulder has to be long and well positioned with a correct angle. To put saddle and rider into the right position, the withers must be long enough and well developed. The Oldenburg stands between 16.0 and 16.3 hands. A good topline, strong back and loin as well as a well-developed croup are goals of breeding. The legs have to be well muscled with well developed joints and sufficient bones with well formed hooves. The forelegs have to be straight from front and side with a long fore arm. Also the hind legs are straight as seen from behind with a good angle of the hocks. The horse carries himself and pushes well from hocks and hindquarters, develops elastic and energetic forward moving gaits with active long strides, as well as having a swinging back and good freedom of the shoulder.


The Oldenburg horse in Germany is bred in the far northern part of Germany, in the relative small breeding area of the former kingdom of Oldenburg. The Oldenburg horse belongs to one of Europe's oldest warmblood breeds. The development of the Oldenburg horse was attributed to the work of Herzog Anton Günther von Oldenburg. He developed the breed in the 16th century, using mares of the Friesian breed as well as selected stallions from Spain and Italy. His purpose was to develop a grand carriage horse. In the early 1960's the German Oldenburg breeding association made the decision to produce a modern riding horse and embarked on an extensive cross-breeding program. The new breeding goal was to produce an outstanding sport horse. At the first step of the new breeding program Oldenburg mares were bred to top European Thoroughbred stallions for refinement. Later on the resulting mares were bred to Europe's finest riding horse bloodlines of Anglo-Norman, Trakehner and Anglo Arabs but also Hanoverians, Holsteiner and Westfalian and Dutch stallions. The result is that the Oldenburg sport horse is now one of the most modern and successful riding horse of the world. Today horses like WEIHAIWEJ (under Franke Sloothaak), LADY WEINGARD (under Markus Beerbaum), DONNERHALL (under Karin Rehbein) and BONFIRE (under Anky van Grunsven) represent the success of the Oldenburg sport horse breeding.


Even among warmbloods, most Oldenburgers have expressive, elastic gaits with a great deal of suspension. The quality of the walk, trot, or canter is highly individual, but their gaits are selected to be suitable for sport. All three gaits are straight when viewed from the front or back, and rhythmical at all times. The walk is diligent and open, the trot is active and elastic, and the canter is uphill and adjustable. Over fences, even most dressage-bred Oldenburgers show some talent. The jumper-bred individuals are capable with great technique.


Unless directly sired by a Thoroughbred, most Oldenburgers are too slow for eventing. All the same, in 2006 the Oldenburg Verband was #11 in the World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses (WBFSH) ranking of studbooks with the greatest prevalence in international eventing. One of the earliest Oldenburg horses to reach the highest echelons of sport was Volturno, a black stallion born in 1968, member of the 1976 silver-medal German Olympic eventing team.

Especially with the implementation of the Oldenburg Jumper Studbook in 2001, Oldenburgers have been very successful in the sport of show jumping. Bred to be courageous, cautious, powerful, scopey, and correct over fences, the Oldenburg Verband was #7 in the WBFSH ranking of studbooks in show jumping. Thanks to the likes of 2006 World Cup champion Sandro Boy and Arko III, only the Westphalian, Hanoverian, Dutch Warmblood and jumping-focused Holsteiner, Selle Français, and Belgian Warmblood had stronger showings in international sport.

The Oldenburg has become particularly successful in dressage, owing much of its continued success to sires like Donnerhall and now Sandro Hit, who top the rankings in the production of dressage horses. In 2006, Oldenburgers were the third most successful breed in the dressage ring, with only the Hanoverian and Dutch Warmblood breeds having higher WBFSH standings. Oldenburg horses have competed in Dressage at the Olympics.


The Oldenburg is a hardy breed, and has a relatively low incidence of health issues.

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