Use and characteristics of the Swedish Warmblood
Swedish Warmbloods are tall horses, generally standing between 16 hands (64 inches/163 cm) and 17 hands (68 inches/173 cm) high. Coats can be any solid colour, from grey to chestnut, bay or black. Swedish Warmbloods are noted for their straight action and excellent paces, both of which are highly rated by equestrians who buy a Swedish Warmblood. These qualities, along with jumping ability and soundness, are tested as part of the selection of potential breeding stock. Breeding was originally focussed on the Royal Stud at Flyinge but as a result of the long period of time the breed has been in development, there is now a global network of experienced breeders who are able to sell a Swedish Warmblood.
Origin and history of breeding Swedish Warmbloods
Although cavalry horses appear to have been bred by the Danish Bishop Absalon from the twelfth century onward, little is known about indigenous Swedish horses until Charles X of Sweden founded the Royal Stud at Flyinge in 1658. This marks the beginning of the development of the Swedish Warmblood, when Friesian and Spanish horses were imported to breed with native mares. A century later, the Crown Prince Adolf Frederik introduced Holstein stallions to the programme, and later, East Prussian, Oldenburg, Frederiksborg, Thoroughbred and Arab influences were added as well. The stud imported probably one of the widest ranges of horses in the history of European breeding, including examples from England, Russia, Spain, Turkey, France, Denmark and Germany. This broad base of types, resulting in great genetic diversity, undoubtedly helped to create the strong and healthy Swedish Warmblood that exists today. By the twentieth century, Thoroughbred, Hanoverian, Arabian and Trakehner stallions were also used. Selecting the biggest and best Thoroughbreds ensured that the Swedish Warmblood retained its size, strength and power. The foundations for the Swedish Warmblood as an Olympic-level sports horse were laid in the decade from 1920 to 1930, including stallions that are still famous names today. These included the Hanoverians, Schwabliso, Tribun and Hamlet, the Thoroughbred Hampelmann and the East Prussian stallions Humanist, Kyffhäuser and Sonnesänger. The post-war period saw Trakehners becoming influential on the Swedish Warmblood, particularly Heristal, a descendant of Hyperion, plus Anno, Heinfried, and Polarstern. By focussing on riding horses from an early date, Sweden was able to have a quality warmblood breed before many other European nations.
Swedish Warmbloods in equestrianism
Selecting from quality stallions of diverse breeds has produced excellent results in terms of competition success. From the 1950s onwards, there have been many highly successful Swedish Warmbloods including the dressage champions Piaff, Junker and Wald. Today, the modern Swedish Warmblood excels in all three major equestrian events: dressage, show jumping and eventing. Olympic successes of the past twenty years include those of eventer Wega, with rider Sara Algotsson-Ostholt (silver medal at the London 2012 games), and Paralympic champions Louise Etzner Jakobsson and her horse Zernard, double bronze winners in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.