For generations the Hanoverian horse has been recognized as one of the world’s most prominent and successful breeds of riding horses. This warmblood breed originated in northern Germany in the state of Lower Saxony, the former kingdom of Hannover, where a flourishing horse-breeding industry has existed for 400 years. The State Stud was established at Celle in 1735, and the Hanoverian studbook officially began in 1888.
The breed retains the substantial bone, sturdiness and stamina of its heritage; nearly 300 years ago the Hanoverian was bred to serve as a robust carriage and military horse. Since the end of World War II, the breeding goal has been to exclusively produce a more versatile performance horse. Breeding stock is very carefully inspected and selected for correct conformation, athletic ability and inner qualities such as disposition and trainability. The Hanoverian has natural impulsion and light and elastic gaits characterized by a ground-covering walk, a floating trot, and a soft, round, rhythmic canter.
After discovering the breed’s athletic talent and rideability, American competitors began importing Hanoverians, and a need arose to continue the German standard of selectivity for the breed in this country. In 1978 the American Hanoverian Society (AHS) was incorporated for that purpose. The AHS Central Office is strategically located in a complex known as the National Horse Center at the Kentucky Horse Park. This 1,200-acre state park is known worldwide for hosting the annual Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event CCI ***** and, additionally, hosted the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. In 1995, the AHS assumed full responsibility for breeding Hanoverians in this country. To maintain continuity, the AHS invites representatives of the German Hanoverian Verband (HV) to the annual inspection tour and to all board meetings and annual meetings.
The 1993 Elite Hanoverian stallion Pik L (Pik Bube II-Abaja/Abajo xx), owned by Anne Sparks of Horses Unlimited, Albuquerque, N.M., and bred by Rudolf Brinkmann, Germany. Pik L and 16-year-old rider Kya Endreson from the Outer Banks of North Carolina swept both the Team and Individual Tests to win the National Junior Dressage Championship at the 2011 Cllecting Gaits Farm USEF Dressage in Gladstone, N.J. Pik L stands at Hassler Dressage, Chesapeake City, Maryland.
Quality performance prospects are the result of the Hanoverian selection process. Each year the AHS organizes a national inspection tour to register foals, inspect and performance test mares, and license stallions. The Mare Performance Test (MPT) scores a mare’s rideability, gaits and jumping talent. During the under saddle portion of the test, a mare's gaits are rated in addition to her temperament and character. Mares must be able to show a lengthened stride in each gait and such simple dressage movements as a three loop serpentine and free walk on a loose rein. The jumping portion of the test is conducted in a jumping chute without a rider rather than over a jump course under saddle.
All stallion candidates must be presented for physical inspection. If scores on conformation, movement and jumping ability are sufficient, a temporary breeding license is granted. Stallions must then either successfully complete the 70-Day Stallion Test which evaluates their gaits, trainability and athletic ability in dressage, show jumping and cross country, or they must meet specified requirements in sport.
In order for a foal to be registered, both the sire and dam must be AHS-approved. The parentage of all foals registered with the AHS is verified by DNA typing. Foals are presented at AHS inspections for registration and branding, and to enable the inspection commission to evaluate the offspring of AHS stallions. A foal is presented in hand for an evaluation of its conformation, and is shown free at the side of the dam for an assessment of its gaits. The Hanoverian breeding program operates an open studbook, meaning that certain non-Hanoverian mares and stallions are eligible for inspection and entry into the studbook if they meet strict breed and pedigree requirements and attain sufficient scores upon presentation. A horse with only one AHS-approved parent (either a Hanoverian-papered Main Studbook dam or an Elite Hanoverian Stallion sire) is eligible for a Certificate of Pedigree.
The breeding rules and standards of the AHS are consistent with those of the HV. AHS mare inspections parallel those held in Germany and are judged according to the same scale. This means that a mare inspected in the United States may be entered into the breeding program of the HV without further inspection. Stallions that pass licensing in the United States are likewise automatically entered into the HV studbook. The importance and value of having a reciprocal studbook with Germany cannot be overstressed in order to maintain the integrity and quality of the Hanoverian breeding goal worldwide.
The 1999 Elite Hanoverian stallion Royal Prince (Rohdiamant-Piri Piri/Prince Thatch xx), owned by Jane MacElree of Hilltop Farm, Inc., Colora, Md., and bred by Fredi Schaefer, Germany.
The Hanoverian is a breed that has been developed to excel in the Olympic disciplines of dressage, show jumping and eventing. Many Hanoverians also compete with great success in combined driving, in the hunter ring, and various other equestrian pursuits.
For additional information contact:
American Hanoverian Society
4067 Iron Works Parkway, Suite 1
Lexington, KY 40511