The Black Forest, located in present-day southwestern Germany, is well known for its cakes and cuckoo clocks. But did you know that it also is the breeding grounds for the Black Forest Horse?
Yes, the Black Forest Horse is named for its birthplace, the Black Forest, in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany.
The Black Forest Horse is a sturdy, cold-blooded draft horse breed worth knowing about. If you’re lucky enough to see one in person, you’ll be glad you did.
Their luxurious flaxen manes and elegant and beautiful carriage really make them stand out. Other names for this breed include:
- Schwarzwälder Kaltblut
- Schwarzwälder Füchse
- St. Märgener Fuchs
- Black Forest Coldblood
- Pearls of the Black Forest
Farmers of the Black Forest region sometimes refer to these beautiful horses as the “pearls” of the area because of their sweet, gentle, and refined nature.
Records of horse breeding in the mountainous and gently sloping area of Germany known as the Black Forest date back to the early 15th century, about 600 years ago. These records are documented at the local Abbey of St. Peter.
The region is made up of hardwood trees, grain-producing farms, and pastureland. Horses have long been used there to assist local Black Forest farmers to work their land.
It is thought that, in the distant past, a heavier horse called the Wälderpferd was the main horse breed used in agriculture in the area. The Black Forest Horse is believed to have descended from that breed.
The actual birthplace of the Black Forest Horse was most likely between Kinzigtal and Hotzenwald, near St. Peter and St. Märgen monasteries. This is why they have also been called the St. Märgener Fuchs (St. Märgener Fox).
In 1896, the Schwarzwäalder Pferdezuchtgenossenschaft, an association of Black Forest Horse breeders, was formed. They started a stud-book that same year.
The association underwent a few changes and was re-established in the 1990s.
There were over 1200 Black Forest breeding mares officially registered right after WWII. However, demand soon fell after that, due to the increased use of machinery on farms and in transportation.
In 1977 it was reported that only 160 mares were in existence.
In 2007, the status of this horse was officially listed as “endangered” by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. At that time, there were known to be only 88 stallions and 1077 mares in this breed.
Then, in 2019, the breed also was listed as “endangered” by the Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen (The Society for the Conservation of Old and Endangered Livestock Breeds), also known as the GEH.
The Black Forest Horse stands out due to the absolutely stunning contrast between its light, wavy mane and its dark, warm brown body.
It is not just a beauty. It has a strong, hardy, powerful stature, even though it is on the light to medium size for a draft horse.
This horse has a gentle, excellent temperament. It is not high-strung at all. This breed is considered smart and easily trainable.
The Black Forest Horse is indeed a work horse. One of its uses was pulling logs in forested areas.
You will be glad to know that they are a loyal animal that is good with children. It has even been used therapeutically for persons with disabilities.
Weight management should be monitored since Black Forest Horses have such good temperaments and are easy to care for. They can put on weight if left too long on their own in a green pasture.
They should be fed quality food along with nutritional supplements as needed.
Breeding And Uses
Today, a number of them can be found in residence at the Marbach stud farm, the oldest state stud farm dedicated to horse breeding in Germany.
This breed is said to have a high fertility rate. Hopefully, its numbers will increase soon.
The average height of a Black Forest stallion is 15 to 16 hands. For a mare, the average height is 14.3 to 15.2 hands.
The average weight of a Black Forest Horse is 1250 to 1400 pounds.
The color range for Black Forest Horses is limited to chestnut in various shades, from light to dark chestnut. If the color is closer to black, with a pale or gray mane, the horse is referred to in German as the Dunkelfuchs (Dark Fox).
Its flaxen mane and tail are always present. Any other color combination cannot be registered as being a Black Forest breed.
What Do They Look Like?
These easy keepers are considered to be muscular, with strong, short necks. The shoulders are sloping, the head is short, and the croup is broad.
The legs of these beautiful horses do not have any feathering. Their hooves are solid, strong, and broad.
What Are They Used For?
They are used in several ways, including:
Where Do They Live?
Black Forest Horses have not strayed far from their original homeland in the past 600 years. Most of them still live in southwestern Germany.
Out of an estimated 1200 in existence, 700 are said to reside in Baden-Württemberg, their ancestral home.
How Long Do They Live?
These horses are said to be long-lived, with an average life span of 25 to 30 years. They are not known to have any genetic medical issues.
How Fast Are They?
They are described as “nimble and lively.”
How Much Do They Cost?
Because this horse breed is rare and endangered, its cost is on the high end. Be prepared to spend anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 on a Black Forest Horse.
Are They Good For Beginners?
Yes. Black Forest Horses are patient and eager to please, with an amiable disposition that makes them a very good choice for a novice rider.
Conclusion / Summary
The Black Forest Horse is uniquely beautiful, with many positive qualities that make it well-suited to many things, including as working horses in field and forest, for harness and carriage pulling, and for general riding. Its striking appearance makes it an unforgettable breed.