Use and characteristics of the KWPN
The aim of the KWPN programme has always been for breeders to produce and sell a KWPN of Grand Prix standard, and with this goal in mind, minimum heights have been set for breeding stock. Stallions must be a minimum of 15.3 hands (63 inches/160 cm) high, and mares a minimum of 15.2 hands (62 inches/157 cm) high. In recent decades. the focus has been on the development of two different types of sports horse, one for show jumping and the other for dressage. There has been success in both programmes, with outstanding horses such as Moorlands Totilas proving a great incentive for leading competitors to buy a KWPN. Coat colours are mainly black, bay, grey, chestnut or brown.
Origin and history of breeding KWPN horses
The Netherlands has many centuries of experience in breeding outstanding horses, whether for riding, driving, or as all-round work horses. The country was fortunate in having access to the best horses of its neighbours and those of Spain. From the nineteenth century, British breeds such as the Cleveland Bay were also used in Dutch breeding programmes. At this time, two provinces were particularly noted for the quality of their versatile horses: Groningen and Gelderland. Both breeds are now categorised as heavy warmbloods. The horses of Gelderland were heavy harness, or light draught horses, while those from Groningen became, over time, a heavier draught horse. Both breeds were used for farm work as well. In 1969, the regional stud books of the Netherlands were drawn into one, with the focus on producing outstanding sports horses, receiving royal approval (“Koninklijk”) in 1988. It seemed possible that the Groningen was particularly likely to disappear, but a group of enthusiasts rescued the last Groningen stallion, Baldewijn, from slaughter in 1978, and today they have their own association. Groningens also participate in sport, mainly in driving. Today, the KWPN registry has three sections. These are firstly for the riding horses which are otherwise known as Dutch Warmbloods; secondly for Dutch harness horses, also called Tuigpaarden; and finally, for Gelderlander Versatility Horses. While it is the riding and sports horses that have probably achieved most fame (the Dutch Warmbloods), the Tuigpaarden and Gelderlands, like the Groningen, are an equally important part of Dutch cultural heritage.
KWPN horses in equestrianism
The Dutch Warmbloods of the KWPN register are some of the most outstanding sports horses in the world. In the UK, the best known is probably John Whitaker’s former show jumping partner Milton, son of the Dutch Warmblood Marius, first owned by Caroline Bradley. Ferro, the magnificent black Dutch Warmblood stallion, achieved fame as a dressage horse, competing with the medal-winning Dutch team at the Sydney Olympics. These tall, elegant horses, combining spirit and power with grace, are likely to be at the top for many years to come.