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The history of the stud

and the Kladruber Horse

The National Stud in Kladruby nad Labem is one of the oldest stud farms in the world while being home to the oldest Czech indigenous breed of horses - the Kladruber.

Discover the history of the Kladruber - a horse breed that was selectively bred (probably as the only breed in the world) specifically for ceremonial purposes of rulers and the tradition of which goes back at least to the 14th century.

The history of the stud and the Kladruber Horse

The history of horse breeding in Kladruby is probably as old as the history of the local settlement. The Elbe river alluvial plain, the location of the Nominated Landscape, had been settled since medieval times, later than the neighbouring fertile flatlands further away from the river. The settlement of the areas along the river was the result of the exploitation of the high quality oaks. The first woodcutters obviously brought the horses with them to do the hard work. The cleared areas of the riparian forest were not suitable as arable land because of the high level of ground water and regular floods but they were ideal as pastures for horses.

The name of Kladruby nad Labem village (Kladruby = hew the logs) located on the territory of the Nominated Property indicates the first settlers were woodcutters. Kladruby nad Labem is mentioned in the year 1295 as a part of Cistercian Monastery property in Sedlec near Kutná Hora.

After 1491 Kladruby nad Labem which was a part of the Pardubice estate changed hands into one of the most important families in the Bohemian Kingdom – the Pernsteins who founded a deer park there before 1522 where horses were also kept (“horse park”). This was the continuation of the medieval tradition of horse breeding in this landscape. In 1560 the Pardubice estate including the deer park was acquired on behalf of the then ruler by the Czech Chamber (an administrative body of the Bohemian Kingdom). In 1563 the Emperor Maxmillian II of Habsburg founded a stud farm on this estate and on 6 March 1579 his successor, Emperor Rudolph II of Habsburg granted it a charter as the Imperial Court Stud Farm.

Since the early 17th century and in a close interaction with the surrounding landscape the stud farm had specialised in breeding ceremonial carriage horses of the gala carrossier type solely to satisfy the demand of the Imperial Court. The stud farm has been in operation to date and it has become the functional centre of this unique landscape. The continuity of breeding carriage horses has never been interrupted there. The ceremonial carriage horses of Kladruber gala carrossier breed have been continuously bred there since the early 17th century.

The break-up of Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918 at first posed threat to Kladruby stud farm owned by the Imperial family for 339 years. The Kladruber horse was traditionally connected with the pageantry of Imperial Court that new Czechoslovak Republic was so critical about. That is why in October 1918, immediately after the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic, the Imperial coat of arms was removed from the southern facade of Řečany nad Labem Vrata Gate. The number of stud farm horses was dramatically reduced in 1918 and 1919.

Yet, soon it came out the Kladruber horses were needed for ceremonial purposes even in the new Czechoslovak Republic and the former Imperial Court Stud Farm was under the new political set up maintained as a state company (State Stud Farm Kladruby nad Labem) under the Ministry of Tillage. The Kladruber horse became a part of the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš G. Masaryk’s ceremonies: the coach drawn by Kladruber horses accompanied the audiences of new ambassadors, inauguration of the President and other official events such as for example the frequent state visits to the newly established republic.

After the Second World War, the stud farm became part of the State Breeding Farm. In about the middle of 20th century an agricultural training school spe cialized in horse breeding was opened in the manor house premises.

The new operational and economic requirements also triggered the extension of historical stud farm premises and thus new administration buildings and a coach house were built on the grounds of the former manor house garden. This inappropriate intervention at the former Manor House garden helped to vacate most of the Manor House rooms from administrative functions and launch their restoration. It started in 1996 by the restoration of the former imperial rooms on the of the manor house upper floor. The historical exposition became part of the visitors’ tour of the stud farm. In addition, the office of the stud farm director was returned to the manor house according to the historical tradition.

In 2007 the Kladruby nad Labem Farm Stud Farm Landscape55 was inscribed in the national indicative list for the future nomination for inscription in the World Heritage List. This act accelerated plans for the general restoration of stud farm premises as well as the work on materials necessary for the nomination. The first ever management plan was drafted in several stages and the international cooperation was reinforced. An important instrument strengthening the preservation of Nominated Landscape56 was the declaration (2015) of conservation zone Kladrubské Polabí (Kladruby Elbeland) comprising extensive territory related to the Stud Farm. Since the care for Gala-carrossier Stud Farm on national level concerns several government departments, an inter-ministerial steering group was founded in 2015 and signed and an Agreement on general principles concerning restoration and further development of the National cultural monument Kladruby nad Labem Stud Farm was signed in order to balance multiple public interests in this exceptionally valuable landscape environment.

Significant dates and milestones

  1. 1491

    Pernštejn Family bought the demesne of Pardubice and, subsequently, the game preserve in Kladruby

  2. 1560

    Maximilian II (emperor since 1563) received the Pardubice Demesne, along with the game preserve of Kladruby, as a gift from the Czech Estates

  3. 1579

    His Grace Emperor Rudolf II granted the stud the status of an Imperial Court Stud; this year is seen as the date of foundation of the establishment

  4. 1595

    Kladruby nad Labem game reserve was expanded to the Selmice area

  5. 1635

    Stud in Smrkovice annexed to the stud in Kladruby

  6. 1682

    Stables yard named “Starý kštít” built in Selmice

  7. 1722

    Beginning of the baroque reconstruction of the stud following the suggestion of the emperor Charles VI

  8. 1757

    Stud farm destroyed by fire, including breeding records

  9. 1764

    Pepoli born - the founder of Kladruber greys

  10. 1770

    Emperor Joseph II had the stud reconstructed

  11. 1779

    Birth of the Favory Stud

  12. 1787

    Generale (grey stallion) born

  13. 1797

    Generalissimus (grey stallion) born

  14. 1800

    Sacramoso (black  stallion) born

  15. 1821

    Setting out of the main compositional axes of the landscape: the beginning of a radical transformation of the landscape surrounding the stud

  16. 1831

    Stables built in Františkov

  17. 1844

    New stables built in Empire style

  18. 1865

    Padock stable constructed

  19. 1875

    An irrigation system of the landscape by means of a raceway in Kladruby nad Labem is introduced

  20. 1895

    The landscape park of Mošnice is founded

  21. 1918

    The stud found itself under the management of the State

  22. 1922

    Napoleone foundation stock became extinct

  23. 1945

    Black Kladruber breeding started in Slatiňany

  24. 1952

    Kladruby vocational school established

  25. 1992

    The National Stud in Kladruby, a state-owned enterprise, is founded

  26. 1994

    The initial purpose of the Kladruber Horse restored by placing horses at the service of the royal court of the Danish Queen

  27. 1995

    Kladruby stud declared a cultural monument, including its foundation stocks of black & grey Kladrubers

  28. 2002

    Kladruby stud recognised as a cultural monument, including its foundation stock of grey Kladrubers

  29. 2003

    Construction and historical investigation completed; this way the architectural, landscape and urban footprints of the complex were assessed objectively

  30. 2004

    The first-ever grey Kladruber placed at the service of the Swedish Royal Mounted Guard

  31. 2007

    The cultural landscape harbouring the stud in Kladruby placed on the list of candidates for the granting of the status of a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site (tentative list)

  32. 2010

    The status of “state enterprise” changed into an “organisation co-funded from the state budget”

    Management Plan completed (updated in 2012)

  33. 2011

    Kladruber horses drew the carriage containing the remains of the former Czech President Václav Havel

  34. 2015

    The project entitled Restoring the Components of the Stud in Kladruby nad Labem - National Cultural Monument completed (IOP)

    Kladrubské Polabí Conservation Zone declared

  35. 2016

    Heritage Board constituted

  36. 2018

    The Czech Republic nominated the “Landscape for Breeding and Training Ceremonial Coach Horses in Kladruby nad Labem” to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Kladruber Horse as a historical treasure

The National Stud at Kladruby nad Labem is one of the oldest studs in the world and home to the oldest original Czech horse breed: the Kladruber horse. It covers an area of over 3,000 acres north of the river Elbe about 80 km (50 miles) east of Prague. The tradition of horse breeding in Kladruby nad Labem stretches back to at least the mid 14th century. For over 300 years (1579–1918) it was an imperial court stud providing horses for the royal and imperial court in Prague and Vienna. Nowadays the National Stud keeps around 500 horses. 250 grey Kladrubers are bred in the historic site of Kladruby nad Labem and 250 black Kladrubers are bred in Slatiňany, a former stud of the princely family of Auersperg, located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Kladruby nad Labem.

National Stud at Kladruby nad Labem

The history of Slatiňany Stud

Set up as a chateau stud in 1898, the Slatiňany establishment is located on the northern edge of the town in the chateau park. It was made out of what was initially stables for racehorses and horses used for par force hunting; they were the property - along with the adjacent chateau and demesne - of the Auersperg Family.

The chateau now houses a museum of hippology with extensive collections. The stables in Heřmanův Městec opposite the chateau belonged, in turn, to the Kinský family. After the end of the Second World War and once the facilities were taken over (August 1945), black Kladrubers that had been undergoing regeneration in Průhonice near Prague from 1939 were moved into the stables in Slatiňany on foot. State Experimental Stud Farm in Slatiňany was formed and the regeneration of the breed continued and was completed in 1973. In 1948, the stud was renamed to become Experimental Horse-breeding Station in Slatiňany and it carried out research activities until 1992.

The Slatiňany stud has been keeping and breeding Kladruber Horses in its black form for more than 65 years. The Kladruber ranks among the Baroque race of horses; the breed is of Spanish-Neapolitan origin and was produced for ceremonial purposes of royal courts. The history of the breed dates back to 1579; the stock of black Kladrubers, however, was interrupted and - in 1931 - almost completely destroyed.

How the black Kladruber was reborn

Thanks to Prof. F. Bílek from the University of Agriculture in Prague, who gathered the last remnants of black horses as part of a unique regeneration project, these “black pearls” of the Czech horse breeding history can now be admired as well. The project was launched in 1939. Initially, it took place in Průhonice near Prague; subsequently, Dr. Lev Richter took over in 1945 to continue the efforts in Slatiňany and complete the regeneration process in the 1970s along with Jaromír Dušek and other colleagues. Animals that became involved in the activity included, in addition to grey Kladrubers, a black Lipizzaner stallion, Siglavi Pakra, and a Friesian stallion, Romke, these started two new foundation stocks in addition to the two original stocks, Sacramoso and Solo - the latter emerged in the 1930s by splitting off the Sacramoso stock.