Black Forest History
Black Forest horses are bred almost exclusively in the Black Forest in southern Germany. In German, they are known as the Schwarzwaelder Kaltblut (Coldblood or Draft Horse), or the Schwarzwaelder Fuchs (fuchs = fox, due to their consistent chestnut coloring).
The Black Forest breed is so rare that it can hardly even be found in the largest, most extensive books of horse breeds. If it is found, it is with a small line of text typically under the “Noriker” draft breed found in Austria.
The breed dates as far back as 600 years. Many years used exclusively for forestry work, this breed’s soundness, durability, strength, and gentle nature were perfect adaptation to the steep farmlands in the Black Forest. Their strong legs and durable feet were so necessary to haul logs over the rugged and uneven terrain.
As machinery began to overtake the use of workhorses, the Black Forest horse breed became endangered. In 1981, there were only 160 registered broodmares. During this time, the German government stepped in to help protect and promote the breed. Close attention was paid to assure proper breeding for the best conformation of the horses. Vigorous performance testing was implemented to assure that only the best breeding stock of stallions and mares would be used to maintain and enhance the marvelous qualities of this breed. Many of the crowned stallions now stand at the Haupt und Landesgestuet Marbach, the state stud farm in Baden-Wuerttemberg, while others stand at private stud farms throughout various regions of Germany.
Eventually, these horses began to be used for more than just field work: today they handsomely pull wedding carriages, carry any size rider easily through varied terrain, and their gentle nature has earned them a well-deserved role in aiding children in therapeutic riding facilities. As their fan base has grown, the numbers of Black Forests is once again on the rise. Today, there are 46 “crowned” stallions within Germany, and approximately 700 registered Black Forest mares. While still considered endangered, their growth in numbers has all but guaranteed they will now survive.
In descriptions, one tends to easily say that the Black Forest horse is “in between Haflingers and Belgians”, due to their size and color, although they are not directly related to either. But it is just that: their average 15 hand size, a size rarely found in a true draft horse, that makes the Black Forest horse the perfect all-around horse.
Height: 148 cm to 160 cm (14.2 to 16 hands). Weight: approx. 500 – 600 kg’s (1250-1400 lbs). Color: Sorrel to dark chestnut with blonde/flaxen mane and tail. There is one family of greys and one family of bays.
There are 6 main bloodlines to the Black Forest Horse. The oldest are the D- and M-Lines, followed by the R- and W-Lines. Most recently, the F-Line was created with the addition of the Freiberger blood, and the V-Line with the addition of the Schleswiger blood. This was necessary to avoid the closer inbreeding when the breed became endangered.
The D-, M- and R- lines tend to be somewhat smaller and more compact (14.2-15.2 hands), while the W-, F- and V- lines carry more size and stature (15-16 hands).