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Kladruber Horse Breed

Kept and bred continuously for more than 400 years, the Kladruber Horse constitutes one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world and the oldest Czech indigenous horse breed. A warm-blooded breed ranks among what is termed Baroque races, it evolved on the basis of old Spanish and old Italian blood. While initially the stock featured various colour options, since the late 18th century there have been only two alternatives, grey and black. Registered ancestors of the current stock can be traced back to as early as the mid 18th century; the today animals are divided into 5 classic pure-bred foundation stocks and 3 non-classic pure-bred foundation stocks. In the case of Kladrubers, having a galakarossier is the breeding target - the term means a stately coach horse serving for ceremonies and official events. While grey animals were used for ceremonial purposes of the imperial court, black horses were used by high-level church officials.

Features typical of the Old Kladruber include a convex head (with a Roman nose) with big spunky eyes; a high-set, powerful and arched neck with rather less noticeable withers; a broad and deep chest; a massive broad back; a good bony fundament; a rather steep shoulder blade enabling the typical movement, i.e., elastic, cadenced and spacious gaits with high action of the thoracic limbs in trot.

Peppoli (1764) was the founder of the grey Kladruber stock; this black horse was the sire of Imperatore (1775; grey stud) who in turn sired Generale (grey stud). Grey Kladruber stock had two bloodlines, Generale (est. 1787) and Generalissimus (est. 1797), and four families. One of the families expanded to such an extent that it subsequently split to form several additional families. The branched family of Almerina is one with the most extensive representation; the names of the mares representative of this group begin with “A”, “E” and “P”. These had a common dam - the mare Alba VIII (Generale XXII) born in 1861. Family C was founded in 1894 by the mare Cariera (Blue Boy) while for Family R the mare Ragusa born in 1888 was the founder. Family S represents the youngest family; it was founded by the mare Sardinia (Maestoso Gratia).

For black Kladrubers, the stock was managed in two bloodlines initially - Sacramoso and Napoleone. Napoleone ceased to exist in 1922. Sacramoso was founded by a black male stud that originated from the archbishop studin Ries near Salzburg. This bloodline, however, ceased to exist as well while the second bloodline of Sacramoso was preserved; it was founded by Sacramoso - a stallion born in Kroměříž in 1800. The current stock is based on four foundation bloodlines: Sacramoso, Solo, Siglavi Pakra and Romke. Dams are included in 13 families.

Whereas grey horses were kept and bred in the Kladruby Stud without interruption, the stock of black animals was almost completely dissolved and sold out in the 1930s. In 1938, Prof. František Bílek decided to restore the black form. At the Experimental Horse-breeding Station in Slatiňany near Chrudim, the effort made use of genetically related breeds for that purpose - Lipizzaners and grey Kladrubers. The regeneration process was successful and ended in 1973; currently, there is a stage of maintenance breeding.

In the long term, animals available at Kladruby nad Labem National Stud number around 30 sires and 130 dams (65 greys / 65 blacks). Approx. 250 horses are now in their rearing stage (meaning they are less than 3.5 years old).

With the sufficient number of good-quality studs, available not only at the Kladruby nad Labem National Stud but also in private holdings, the Kladruber population has been closed to any additional new blood from other breeds of horses since 1996. Private holders can be found even abroad, particularly in Poland, in German-speaking countries, and in Asia or the USA.

The Kladruber Horse is something that no other country can boast of in terms of the origin of the breed; it is also a unique example of successful breeding work which succeeded in restoring a rare indigenous Czech breed. In January 1995, the extensive complex of the National Stud - including the Kladruber breed - was declared a cultural monument. In addition, the breed is included in the National Programme of the MoA CR, and selected animals are registered as genetic resources.

For centuries, the Kladruber Horse was selectively bred as a galakarossier horse designed for the imperial court; it has, however, found its place and application even in the current era. Kladruber horses are a perfect fit for race teams as well as for traditional dressage. Their peaceful and well-balanced nature makes them animals often used for equine-assisted therapy and ideal partners for leisure rides. Kladrubers, however, can be encountered even in parks and in towns such as Pardubice, Ostrava and Prague where horses are used for working purposes as part of mounted police. In addition, the horse breed can be seen at all kinds of celebrations and cultural events throughout the Czech Republic.