The Holsteiner: Facts on One of the World’s Best Jumping Horses


The Holsteiner is one of the best showjumping horses in the world. These remarkable German horses are so talented in this discipline that they have made it to the Olympic and Grand Prix levels of showjumping many times over! After looking at buying one of these horses as a jumping horse, I wanted to learn more about these beautiful German horses!

In this guide I will discuss:

  • What a Holsteiner is
  • Basic breed information
  • How big these horses are
  • What colors these horses come in
  • The history of the Holsteiner breed
  • How to identify a Holsteiner horse
  • What these horses are used for and good at
  • How long these horses live for
  • FAQs on the breed

What is a Holsteiner Horse?

A Holsteiner horse is a breed of horse that originated in Germany. These horses are very well built and trump most other breeds when it comes to conformation. Usually used for showjumping, the Holsteiner is famous for its great success in this industry and the unbeatable height these horses can jump. These horses are incredibly tall and generally stand between 16 and 17.2 hands high. The Holsteiner is a breed of horse who would make a great option for a jumping horse for almost anyone!

Basic Information on this Breed

HeightBetween 16 and 17.2 hands high
WeightAround 1,500 pounds (680 Kilograms)
Acceptable Coat ColorsBay, chestnut, grey, and most other solid colors
Country of OriginGermany
TypeWarmbloos

How Big is the Holsteiner Horse?

The Holsteiner is an extremely tall horse for being a warmblood. The average height for this breed of horse falls in between 16 and 17.2 hands high. Their height is largely due to their long powerful legs responsible for launching them up over those insanely high jumps.

Due to their height and the heavy muscle seen on most Holsteiners, these horses are incredibly heavy. Some of these horses even weight more than some draft horses! The average weight of a Holsteiner horse falls at around 1,500 pounds (680 Kilograms). Talk about heavy!

What Coat Colors are Seen in this Breed?

Though the most common coat colors seen in this breed are the standard base colors most horses carry, they can also be seen in a variety of rare colors as well.

The coat colors seen in the Holsteiner breed include:

  • Bay
  • Black
  • Chestnut
  • Gray
  • Palomino
  • Buckskin
  • Cremello (rare)
  • Perlino (rare)

The History of the Holsteiner

The history of any breed of horse is important. Without it, we wouldn’t have the incredible horses we have today. The Holsteiner specifically has an amazing history that you will want to learn about.

This horse breed is one that has changed considerably since the first Holsteiner horses were around. The original Holsteiner horses were coarse and heavily built with short strides and powerful frames.

The Holsteiner got its name from the area which it was first originated. This area is known as the Schelswig-Holstein part of Germany and it is here that the first Holsteiners were created. The first members of this breed were known to be in this area in the year 1285. A written documentary dated 1285 described horses that resemble the old Holsteiner horses grazing on the grasses at a monastery.

These early Holsteiners were believed to have descended from a number of different horses including:

  • German horses
  • Spanish horses
  • Oriental horses

Because of their heavy strong build, these horses are believed to have been used in the Middle ages both for agricultural purposes as well as elegant mounts for riding into battle. Their strength and power made them desirable both as riding horses and artillery horses who pulled guns for relocation.

These horses were used for military and agricultural purposes for centuries up until the 1600s. In this era, the Holsteiner began work as a carriage horse, pulling carts and carriages to transport people and goods all over the country of Germany. It was during this time period that the famous grey Holsteiner stallion, Mignon came about. This stallion was a very popular stud and he was used to better the Holsteiner horses around, as well as found the breeding stock for the Hanoverian breed.

In the 1800s, breeders wanted to lighten the Holsteiner as well as improve its conformation and increase its speed. To do this, Thoroughbred blood was added to the Holsteiner bloodline as well as some Yorkshire Coach Horse blood to lengthen the horse’s strides and mellow their temperament.

After the world wars passed, more Thoroughbred blood was crossed into the bloodlines to make the breed more suitable for jumping, dressage, and other competitive riding disciplines.

Today, the Holsteiner is prized not only for its jumping ability, but also for its mellow temperament and beauty.

How to Identify These Horses

The Holsteiner has many traits that make them identifiable from other horse breeds, as well as make them the amazing horses we know today.

These horses have:

  • An elegant muscular neck
  • A broad deep chest (for maximum lung capacity)
  • Well sloped shoulders for free movement
  • A longer back
  • Strong quarters
  • Strong legs

What is the Holsteiner Used For?

Showjumping and dressage are the specialties of this horse breed.

They excel at dressage because:

  • They have great movement and leg action
  • Their conformation is excellent
  • Their temperament makes them easier to train and work with
  • Their necks allow for beautiful headset

They excel at showjumping because:

  • They have great stamina
  • Their natural jumping ability puts them at the top
  • They are fast horses and can quickly maneuver through a course without batting an eye.

FAQs on the Holsteiner

How long do Holsteiners live?

Holsteiners, though healthy, have a short life expectancy of around 20 to 22 years. This is likely because of inbreeding in selective breeding programs and injuries caused from being ridden too hard or jumped too high.

Do Holsteiner horses have more than one name?

Yes! Holsteiner horses are known mainly by two names. The first is Holsteiner (obviously), and the second is just Holstein. Both names refer to the same breed!

What is the most common coat color seen in the Holsteiner breed?

Bay is the most common color seen in the Holsteiner horse breed, though grey and chestnut follow close behind in commonness.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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