The Trakehner is a breed of great antiquity. Of all the horses known as warmbloods, it is arguably the nearest to the ideal of the modern competition horse. Trakehner blood is often used to upgrade other breeds.
The Trakehner originated in what used to be East Prussian and is now a part of Poland. In the early thirteenth century, the province was colonized by the Order of Teutonic Knights. They established the Trakehnen studs using the indigenous Schweiken as a base. These ponies were plain and often common, but they were also tough and hardy. Schweiken Ponies descend from the Konik Pony - a direct derivative of the primitive Tarpan. They inherit the Tarpan's extraordinary natural vigor and powers of endurance.
In 1731, Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussian founded the Royal Trakehner Stud Administration. This stud was the main source of stallions for all Prussia and the area quickly established a reputation for elegant coach horses. Within 50 years, the emphasis shifted to producing army chargers and remounts of a quality unsurpasses in Europe. Thereafter, increasing use was made of English Thoroughbred and Arabian blood, which balanced deficiencies of temperament and constitution.
By 1913, most Trakehner stallions were Thoroughbred. The greatest influence was Perfectionist, son of Persimmon, who won the English Derby and the St. Leger in 1896. The best of his sons, Tempelhuter, provided a powerful line that is recognized as the foundation for the modern Trakehner.
The refined head of the Trakehner exemplifies the background of English Thoroughbred and Arabian blood. It is full of the quality that has earned the breed the title of "noble" - a word much used in describing what may be regarded as Europe's finest warmblood. It also has an unmistakable character and expression not always so evident in other warmbloods. The alert, mobile ears are always held well. There is width between the expressive eyes. There is ample length to the elegant neck. The ideal Trakehner has good, well-shaped shoulders. The quarters are particularly powerful - it is interesting that the field for the Gram Pardubice steeplechase in Czechoslovakia is largely Trakehner. Notably good, hard hooves in comparison to some other warmblood breeds. The coat can be of any solid color and the height can vary between 16-17.2hh.
Reference: The Ultimate Horse Book; Elwyn Hartley Edwards; 1991
The Official American Trakehner Association
Trakehners in Action
Background photo courtesy of Valhalla Farm
Reference picture courtesy of New Spring Farm