An exciting tribal tale, an extreme charisma, and half or double moose antler as a distinctive mark – all of this is common for the Trakehner breed horses, often endearingly called “Traki”. Today these elegant and ready for great achievements pedigree horses draw the attention to themselves in all disciplines. During the training however and in the versatility they are really at their best. Certainly you’ve heard some older riders and horse breeders dreaming about the “Trakehnen Paradise” – the famous stud in former East Prussia (an enclave in today’s Russia), destroyed during World War Two (1939-1945).
The Trakehner breed story began in 1732 when king Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia founded the main stud at Trakehnen, which, together with its seven vast pastures, created perfect conditions for the emergence of a new type of cavalry mount – hard-working and with great powers of endurance. Again, it was his idea to cross-breed the stocky farm horses of the region (the local East Prissian breed “Schaike”) with other full-blooded horses to get a middle-sized, elegant riding horse. Thereafter all foals born in Trakehnen have half a moose antler on their right hindquarter as a distinctive mark. The Trakehner breed horses from private stables (farm stables or noblemen’s) are branded with a double moose antler on the left hip. During hunting of former times in Trakehnen the young riding horses had to prove their courage and endurance.
In 1944 when the Soviet army was in front of Trakehnen gates, there was only one possibility to save the horses – an escape to the west. A long column of the best mares, foals and stallions set off at the height of the freezing East Prussian winter. Many of the horses died of starvation and exhaustion, while others were shot during escape attempts.
With the few surviving horses after the war breeding continued in Germany, Russia and Poland. In contrast to other full-blooded breeds, the Trakehner horse breed has been maintained by extremely pure breeding since 1732. Only a horse that descends from the main stud at Trakehnen or from East Prussian private stables can enter as a Trakehner horse in the registry. An interesting fact is that foals out of Trakehner mares must be named using the same first letter as the dam's name to show the breeding line of the mare. Some of the most famous Trakehner lines include Perfectionist XX together with his sons Tempelhuter, Jagdheld, and Irrlehrer, as well as Damfpross and his son Pythagoras.
In Germany in 2004 there were 3861 mares (101 of which are Thoroughbreds and 27 are Arabian), as well as 209 stallions (89% - Trakehner breed, 7% - Thoroughbreds, 4% - Arabian). 1305 foals were born in the same year. In Germany the area where Trakehner horses are bred is divided in 10 breeding regions, the most important of which are Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. It is precisely in the latter – Hamburg – that the famous Trakehner Verband was formed in 1947 (an association, replacing the East Prussian Stud Book Society of 1888).
Throughout the breeding process the Trakehner breed has been improved to a certain extend with Arabian (2,4%) and English Thoroughbred horses (4%). These Thoroughbreds provide the East Prussian cross-breed between a riding and a cart horse with a lot of temperament. Thus, the Trakehners have an excellent human-oriented character, are able to take intense work and will do anything within their power for their rider. As a consequence, Trakehner stallions have been successfully used for refining other riding horse breeds in almost all German studs. In addition to that, the Trakehner horses continue their success in training and versatility which can be traced back to the time before World War Two (e.g. the Olympics in 1936). An International Trakehner Auction is organized each October in Neumunster.
Breed: Trakehner breed Height: 1,60 – 1,75 m Descend: former East Prussia; nowadays Trakehner horses are bred in Germany, Poland, Russia, USA, Denmark, France, New Zealand, England, Switzerland, Croatia and Lithuania. Color: any color, with bay, gray, chestnut and black being the most common, though the breed also includes roan and tobiano pinto horses Head: refined head, often slightly concave in profile; broad forehead; smallish and narrow muzzle; large, kind, wideset eyes; solid jawbone Body:a medium-long, crested and well-set neck; a large, solid body, standing in a rectangular frame with a deep, sloping shoulder that allows for tremendous freedom of movement; a back of medium length; straight legs; large and powerful hindquarters with broad, solid hocks; a deep barrel which is closely coupled to a long, sloping croup Movement: the combination of the thrust from the quarters, the swinging back and the freedom of the shoulder produces the Trakehner's famous floating trot. The trot is supremely comfortable and is so light and springy that it actually looks as if the horse does not quite touch the ground as it strides. Distinctive marks:athletic and trainable horse with good endurance, able to take intense work, human-oriented Overall profile: Versatile riding and cart-horse for sport and entertainment