Trakehner is a light warmblood breed of horse, originally developed at the East Prussian state stud farm in the town of Trakehnen from which the breed takes its name. The state stud (Hauptgestüt Trakehnen) was established in 1731 and operated until 1944, when the fighting of World War II led to the annexing of East Prussia by Russia, and the town containing the stud renamed as Yasnaya Polyana.
The Trakehner typically stands between 15.2 and 17 hands. They can be any color, with bay, gray, chestnut and black being the most common, though the breed also includes a few roan and tobiano pinto horses. It is considered to be the lightest and most refined of the warmbloods, due to its closed stud book which allows entry of only Trakehner, as well as few selected Thoroughbred, Anglo-Arabian, Shagya and Arabian bloodlines.
Owing to its Thoroughbred ancestry, the Trakehner is of rectangular build, with a long sloping shoulder, good hindquarters, short cannons, and a medium-long, crested and well-set neck. The head is often finely chiseled, narrow at the muzzle, with a broad forehead. It is known for its “floating trot” - full of impulsion and suspension. The Trakehner possesses a strong, medium-length back and powerful hindquarters.
Trakehners are athletic and trainable, with good endurance, while some are more spirited than horses of other warmblood breeds. Trakehners breed true to type, due to the purity of the bloodlines, making it valuable for upgrading other warmbloods.
Today in Germany the breed is considered a federal responsibility, with its governance falling under both the Trakehner Verband and the Trakehner Gesellschaft mbH; the latter handling all business operations.
Stallion inspections are held in Neumünster, Germany, each October and approved stallions are required to complete extended performance tests, which rate the horses’ gaits, temperament, jumping ability, and suitability over a cross country course, before being given full breeding licenses.
The Trakehner is used as a “refiner” of other breeds, allowing an infusion of Thoroughbred and Arabian blood without the risks often involved in first generation outcrosses. Influential stallions include Abglanz for the Hanoverian, Herbststurm who influenced the Oldenburg, Marco Polo for the Dutch Warmblood, the stallions Ibikus and Donauwind for the Danish Warmblood, and Polarstern for the Swedish Warmblood.
While Trakehners compete in nearly all equestrian disciplines, they are particularly prized as dressage mounts, due to their sensitivity, intelligence and way of going. Peron anchored the United States team to an Olympic Bronze in 1996 at Atlanta. Abdullah, by Donauwind, is particularly famous for his show jumping team gold and individual silver medals at the 1984 Olympics and 1985 World Cup win. Heuriger was the 1994 show jumping team silver medallist at the 1994 World Equestrian Games.
Due to their very light build, Trakehners tend to do better in the sport of eventing than most other warmblood breeds. One such example is USA 2004 Olympic team bronze medallist Windfall *PG* 2.
It is Friday evening. I am standing next to one of the guest stalls. Fortunately, we got one, so we could arrive one day earlier. Paintboy is eating the hay I brought him. I am patting his dark brown head with those pretty long ears, I have already braided his black mane into small chubby dumplings, the white parts as well. Touching his soft fur feels so calming.
I decide to look after my leather stuff, maybe I can clean it for the 167th time. I close the stable door and walk the alley along. I reach the outside and I immediately smell the fresh air with some accents of hay and a chippie which is located some metres away. It is cold, I should have worn a thicker jacket. I put my hands into my pockets and walk to our trailers. The metal of my car is kind of sparkling in the evening sun. With my fingers, I search for the keys in my pockets, thanks god, I find them. I once have lost them and all our entries had to be cancelled as we couldn’t reach our tack.
That won’t happen again, I told myself. I opened the trailer and looked at the black jumping saddle hanging on an iron pole next to the Mexican bridle with the breastplate laying in a box, together with the leg protection. I run my hand over the leather, it seems so pure, even if the saddle is already seven years old. Nothing to do here, everything is ready for tomorrow.
I walk back to the guest stalls and say ‘good night’ to Paintboy before I go to my guest room, I share with Emory.
Now it is Saturday, 11:17 am. I am nervous, really nervous. I shouldn’t be, as Paintboy and I have done this kind of course several times but it is every time we do it again very nerve-racking. One duo has already cancelled their participation, another one had an accident, nothing dramatic but, well, I don’t want to see the grass from the ground. I just hope, everything will be fine and we finish the course safely. Wish us luck!