Hanoverian Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Hanoverian Horse is a warmblood horse that originated in Germany. It is called Hannoveraner in German.

These horses are among the most well-known riding horses in the world. These light-sport horses are considered the oldest among all the warmblood horses that date back to the 17th century.

King George II of England, who was the elector of Hanover is believed to be responsible for breeding this horse. He also founded the Celle State stud that bred the horses. Intended to be used as a military horse, further introduction of thoroughbred blood made this horse suitable for competitions.

Hanoverian Horse
Hanoverian gelding

The horses are strong, intelligent, and amenable to training. This makes this horse used in many an Olympic discipline. The horse is a sports horse that excels in competition.

The breeding of this horse is regulated by the German Hanoverian Verband in Hanover. In the USA, the American Hanoverian Society works with the Hannoveraner Verband to regulate the breed in the country.

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In the 17th century, oriental, Neapolitan, and Spanish horses were brought to Germany leading to the development of the Holsteiner breed. King George II of England selected fourteen Holsteiners for the horse breeding program at the Stallion state stud in Celle. The intention behind breeding these horses was for use in the cavalry, as coach horses, and for farming.

Thoroughbred blood was introduced to the breeding stock to add stamina and lightness to the breed. This led to the creation of the Hanoverian horse. After the Napoleonic wars, the horses were depleted and only 30 stallions remained. Thoroughbred horses were used again to replenish the stock.

Thorough blood influence had become nearly 35% and the horses had become too light to do farming work. As a result, it was decided to limit the thorough blood to 2 to 3%. The Hanoverian breed was formally established in 1888 with the publishing of the first Hanoverian studbook.

In the 20th century, the focus shifted to producing a breed that could be used in the farm and also be used for riding and carriage work. Around 500 stallions in the state stud were used for breeding with more than 35,000 mares from the 1920s to 1940s.

Breeding once again was restarted after World War II, thanks to the demand for sports horses. This time apart from the thoroughbreds, Trakehner and Anglo-Arabian stallions were occasionally used. By 1960, there were only 4200 broodmares and 180 state stallions. Since then, with increased demand for sport horses, the horse was bred extensively.

The selection of the breeding stock is done rigorously and the breeders constantly adapt to changes in demand. Grading of horses and the auctions conducted at Verden have helped in the best horses being bred.


The shift in focus to sport horses ensured that the Hanoverian is a strong and athletic horse. They are graceful and suited for show events. The horse has a robust build and a powerful body. The strong legs ensure the horse is suited for eventing.

The Hanoverian is a bold horse that is intelligent and willing to be trained. It is calm in temperament making it well suited as a riding horse. This horse is warm blood that makes it more reliable. The horse is also gentle in nature.

The long neck and sloping shoulders give it a distinct appearance and make it perfectly suited for sporting purposes. 


The Hanoverian horse is larger than most horses. Consequently, the horse required more feed than the average horse. It requires good quality forage. Dried hay, fresh grass, and grains are needed as a part of the horse’s diet.

Nutritional supplements can be introduced to the forage where needed. It is important that the horse gets sufficient fresh water to drink.

Depending on the specific requirements of the horse, grain mixtures or cereals with added vegetable oil may be required. This depends on the horse’s age, size, growth rate, and performance level. The key to healthy growth is to feed as per need and neither feed more nor less.

Breeding And Uses

The goal of breeding this horse is to retain its stamina and sturdy features that make it a great sporting horse. Breeders do their best to produce a versatile horse that is a good performer. Breeding is done scientifically with rigorous inspections done to check external and internal qualities.

In the USA, the American Hanoverian Society carries out a national inspection tour. Foals are inspected and then registered if they meet the requirements. Performance testing of mares is done based on criteria like gait, rideability, and jumping ability. This test is known as the MPT (Mare performance test).

Mares passing the performance test are recognized as Elite Mare Candidates (EMC). Once they produce a foal and it is registered, then they are given the title of Elite Mare. For the purpose of registration of the foal, it is required that the sire and the dam should be approved by the AHS.

In Verden, the licensing event is attended by around 100 stallion candidates. Veterinary exams, assessment of gait, and ability to jump are used by the judges to select licensed stallions. The horses that don’t earn the license are usually castrated and used as riding horses.

The Stallion performance test is done to assess the ability of the horse for riding. These stringent selection measures have ensured that this horse is the best for riding and other show events. It is this rigorousness that has ensured teams using these horses have won gold medals at the Olympics and other events. 

This horse is used for dressage show jumping, showjumping and eventing, leisure riding, harness, farming work, and light draught work. The careful breeding has ensured the breed is pure and does not face any risks.


The Hanoverian horse weighs between 750 and 1,100 pounds on average. Since they are a light horse breed, they weigh under 1,500 pounds. A fully mature horse can weigh up to 1,400 pounds (635 kilograms).

The height of the Hanoverian is 15.3 hands (160 cm) to 17.2 hands (178 cm). On average, these horses measure around 16 to 16.2 hands (163 to 168 cm or 64 to 66 inches).

What Breeds Make Up The Hanoverian Horse?

There are many breeds that the modern Hanoverian horse is made of. The Holsteiner breed was used with fourteen of them selected by King George II for the breeding. They were bred with Thoroughbred, Cleveland Bay, Neapolitan, Prussian, Andalusian, and Mecklenburg stock. The result was the Hanoverian horse of the 18th century.

After the second world war, Thoroughbreds were again used for breeding. Occasionally, other breeds like the Trakehner and the Anglo-Arabian were used.


Hanoverian horses are of a solid color. The common colors of these horses are brown, grey, chestnut, bay, and black. Generally, these horses do not have much white in their coats. There can be white markings on the face.

Patterns like stripe, blaze, and star can be seen. White marking can also be seen at the bottom of the leg and the knees. For registration, the horses should not have white. Horses with cremello, buckskin, and palomino are also not permitted for registration.

Hanoverian Horse Dressage

What Do They Look Like?

The Hanoverian is a large horse. It has a straight head that is well-outlined and medium in size. The eyes are clear and alert. It has small ears. The neck is slender but is muscular giving it strength. The shoulders are strong and brawny and well-sloped.

The Hanoverian horse has a chest that is deep and broad that gives it strength. The strong back of the horse makes it suitable for both work and performance in riding and other events. The legs are sturdy and the joints are flexible. The tail and mane of the horse are thick just like its coat.

The hindquarters of the horse are strong. The bones are strong to ensure strength and agility. The croup is broad and slightly sloping.

What Is A Hanoverian Horse Used For?

The Hanoverian horse was bred to be used in the cavalry, to draw carriages, to work on a farm, and also as a riding horse. In later years, the horse has been used mainly for riding purposes. It is also a good companion horse.

The horses have extensively been used in dressage events. The horses have been part of seven gold medal-winning teams. These horses have won three individual gold medals in the Olympics and four individual silver medals. Hanoverian dressage horses have regularly won many medals at the World Equestrian Games.

Hanoverian horses regularly take part in international showjumping events. This horse has won the Show Jumping World Cup for three years. It has also won gold and silver medals at the show jumping event in the Olympics and the World Equestrian Games.

Eventing is another sport where this horse has done well. The World Breeding Federation for Sports Horses in 2008 rated the Hanoverian studbook as the third for eventing.

The horses are also used as show hunters. The gait of the horse and judging based on rustic obstacles. In the ranking published by the United States Equestrian Federation, four of the Hanoverian sires were listed in the top ten. The show hunter Hanoverian horses have won a number of titles. This includes the Horse of the year title, Working hunter horse of the year, Regular working hunter, Large Junior Hunter, Amateur-Owner Hunter, etc.

Where Do They Live?

The Hanoverian horse has its origins in the Celle state stud. Lower Saxony in Germany is the main center for breeding this horse. There are around 15000 broodmares, 210 state stallions, and 100 private stallions in this region.

These horses are found in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Russia, and France. Breeding clubs and groups have been formed in all these countries.

How Long Do They Live?

Hanoverian horses are strong and healthy. This makes them a fairly long-living horse. The life span of the Hanoverian ranges from 20 years to 35 years. It is not uncommon to find these horses living for more than 30 years. On average, these horses live for more than 25 years.

The horses are generally in good health. The rigorous inspections are done at the time of registration ensure that horses that have poor health or have genetic defects do not pass on their genes to other horses. The norms of registration and constant inspection have ensured the Hanoverian is healthy and robust.

One of the common problems affecting the Hanoverian is fertility issues. Thanks to the research being carried out, the genes that affect fertility have been identified.

Osteochondrosis is another common problem this horse can suffer from. This condition leads to small fractures, loose cartilage chips in the joints, and loose cartilage flaps. The condition can turn into a degenerative disease like osteoarthritis. It is estimated that 7 to 24% of the horses have Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) lesions in the hock joint or the fetlock joint.

Joint problems can be a serious concern as they can lead to the end of the horse’s career. Tests for the OCD lesion are a must to get the breeding license. Radiographs are used to examine the horse before licensing.

How Fast Are They?

The Hanoverian horses are not intended for use in racing. They are used mainly for show events like jumping. The horse’s strong muscular body makes it well suited for jumping.

The horse can run at an average speed of around 20 to 30 km per hour. 

How Much Do They Cost?

Hanoverian horses can be very expensive. The best horses are sold in auctions in Verden. The Elite Riding horses are the most expensive and auctions for these horses happen during the months of April and October every year.

The highest price commanded by a Hanoverian horse was $1,125,000 for the horse Lemony’s Nicket in 2008. The best stallion was sold in the Stallion sale for around $1,000,000 in 2005.

The price varies depending on its age, gender, training, and breeding. The prices on average range from $18,000 to $30,000.

Are Hanoverian Horses Good For Beginners?

It is important to understand the temperament of this horse to know who it is best suited for. Hanoverian horses are characterized by their key trait, which is a willing horse. This makes it easy to train and handle.

The horses are sensible and are intelligent, which makes them ideal for training in various sports and events. They are bold horses and willing to be trained for jumping and other such events.

They are warm-blooded horses and are by nature trustworthy. This characteristic makes them a horse the rider can rely on. They are generally calm in nature and hence are suitable for all levels of riders.

The horse is strong and athletic and also agile. This is why it is better suited for riders who have little experience handling horses. Beginners will find this horse amiable. But its strength and height may make it a bit difficult for beginners to handle. This is why the horse is more suited for riders who have experience riding horses. 

Beginners can ride this horse but may not find it very easy to manage this powerful horse. 

Conclusion / Summary

The Hanoverian horse got its name from Hanover in Germany. The horse that originated from the Holsteiner had thorough blood and other horses added to its lineage to create the modern Hanoverian horse.

This is one of the more well-known horses used for sports and show events. These horses are been part of Olympic gold medal-winning teams. The horse is multi-talented since it was bred for use in sport, riding, carriage work, and even for military use.

There are intensive regulations governing the breeding of this horse. The state stud in Celle carries out rigorous inspections to ensure that only the best horses free from genetic defects are licensed. These licensed horses are used for breeding to ensure the horses are healthy.

This breed originating from Germany is strong and powerful. They are fairly tall and athletically built, the horse is capable of performance and can be used for work. It is amenable to training and being a warmblood horse can be relied upon. This makes it a favorite for riders to use in various types of competitions.

Apart from being athletic, the horses are elegant and graceful. While these horses are suited for various levels of riders, it is best suited for riders with experience. Managing a strong and agile horse like the Hanoverian requires a bit of experience.

This beautiful horse lives for 25 to 35 years and is usually in good health. The stringent regulations have ensured this is one of the best horses used for riding and events. All these characteristics make the horse expensive and you should be prepared to spend good money on the best horse.

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