Westphalian Horse Facts And Information – Breed Profile

The Westphalian Horse is named so because it originated in Westphalia, a state in Germany. This warmblood horse has been bred in the state stud of Warendorf. This horse has the second-highest population of German warmbloods.

Westphalian Horse

Meant originally for use in the cavalry and as riding horses, these horses are today show jumpers and used for dressage events. This strong horse is highly skilled and easy to train.

They are taller than most other warmblood horses. These sport horses are used even for pleasure riding.


The horse has a rich history that dates back to the Roman era. The horses are descendants of the wild horses that roamed the marshlands of Westphalia. When the state stud was formed in Warendorf in 1836, the Westphalian breeding officially commenced.

The need for a horse that could be used for cavalry and for nobles led to this horse being bred. With a demand for a horse that could even do farm work, the Westphalian horse breeding focused on creating a horse that was athletic and strong enough to do heavy work. 

The stud book started in 1888. Annual inspections and performance tests were carried out to choose the best horses to become breeding stallions. Unfortunately, all the records were destroyed after the second world war. Subsequently, the focus of breeding programs was to create riding horses. 

Inspections once again commenced in 1946. Modern Westphalians are now mainly used for riding and events. They are versatile horses. In the United States, the Westfalen Horse Association promotes these horses and is affiliated with the German association.


The key characteristic of this horse is its excellent riding gait. Since they were intended to be used for heavy work, they are taller as compared to most other warmblood horses. This is a distinct characteristic of the Westphalian horse.

These horses are popular for their work ethic. They are eager to please and willing to be trained and used for versatile purposes. They are excellent horses for show events.


Once the Westphalian horse matures, it becomes easy to keep. It does not require specialized feeding. Forage is the main constituent of the Westphalian horse’s diet. Hay and grass should be sufficient and grains may not be needed.

In case the horse is used for heavy work like on a farm, then it is advisable to add feed concentrate so the horse gets sufficient nutrients. Sufficient drinking water is needed. Care should be taken to prevent overfeeding, which can be a problem with horses that are easy keepers.

Breeding And Uses

Initially, the horse was bred for the cavalry. It was only later on that the horse began to be used for riding. In modern times, Westphalians are bred as dressage horses that can also be used for riding and even heavy work.

Breeding programs are still done in Germany and even in the USA. They are branded once the foal is approved by the Verband. There is a crowned shield branding on the left hip that has the letter ‘W’ on it. Strict selection procedures are followed to ensure that the horses are in good health.

The breed is today extensively used in dressage and equestrian events. The horse has done successfully in competitions. They are used for riding and in some cases even for carriage work.


The Westphalian is a tall horse. The height of the horse varies from 15.2 hands (62 inches or 157 cm) to 17.2 hands (70 inches or 178 cm).

The horse usually weighs between 1,000 and 1,300 pounds.

What Breeds Make Up The Westphalian Horse?

The Westphalian horse was bred in the stud form at Warendorf by using the best horses available in the region. This horse is made up of breeds like the Oldenburg, Hanoverian, and the Anglo Norman.

After the 20th century, more Hanoverian blood was used to make the horse lighter. This was to enable it to be used in show events. Incidentally, the horses were earlier crossed with some cold blood breeds to make them heavier so they could be used for heavy work.


The coat color of the Westphalian can be of any color. There is no restriction in terms of color for the registration of the horses. The most common colors are bay, black, gray, and chestnut. Very rarely horses of other colors can be seen.

What Do They Look Like?

The Westphalian horses are strong and athletic. Even though they are tall and strong, they are lightly built to make them suitable for riding. It has an attractive head with a straight profile. The neck is stout and the chest is deep.

The shoulders are sloped with the back broad and strong. The hindquarters are powerful and the tail is high set. The legs are fairly short but are extremely muscular. The overall appearance of the horse is one of elegance.

This elegance comes from its light build that facilitated its ability to ride. 

What Are They Used For?

These horses are ideal as riding horses. They are well suited for dressage and show jumping. The World Breeding Federation for Sports Horses has ranked the Westphalian No. 6 in show jumping, No. 5 in dressage, and No. 12 in eventing.

The horse has performed well at the Olympic level. Ahlerich was a Westphalian that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics. The horse was part of the gold-winning German team in the 1988 Olympics, where another horse Rembrandt won a dressage gold medal. The 2000 gold medal team of Germany had a Westphalian young stallion named Farbenfroh.

The horse is used as a show horse. It is also used as a working horse on farms in some places. The multi-talented horse can be used for many purposes.

Where Do They Live?

The Westphalian is a horse that originated in Germany. It is found in Germany and many parts of Europe. The horse is also found in the USA. It is used in show hunter competitions in many places of North America.

How Long Do They Live?

This breed of horse is among the long-lived horses in the world. While on average horses live for around 20 to 25 years, the Westphalian lives for 25 to 30 years making them fairly long-lived.

These agile and strong horses are generally in good health. They don’t face any serious health issues. Since they are related to the Hanoverians, a common problem that may occur is Osteochondrosis. This may lead to lesions in the leg developing. It can lead to the horse becoming lame.

Navicular hoof is another condition that can affect these horses. Proper maintenance of the horse can help prevent this problem. Being an easy keeper, the horse is in good health and does not need special feeding. 

How Fast Are They?

The Westphalian is lightly built and uses the Hanoverian blood to make it light. This also makes it fast. It is strong and muscular enabling it to run fast. This is why the horse is used for riding and in events. The average speed of this horse is around 20 to 30 miles per hour.

How Much Do They Cost?

Westphalian horses are priced high. This is because they are versatile horses that can be used for dressage and riding. If you want a good horse from a good breed, it would cost around $15,000.

If you want a horse that is experienced in competitions and trained properly, then they would cost around $30,000 or even more than that. The price of the horse would depend on age, gender, and background.

Are Westphalian Horses Good For Beginners?

Even though the Westphalian horse is strong and well-built, it is a horse of excellent temperament. It is calm in nature and friendly. It gets along very well with its rider or owner. It is adaptable and can be trained easily.

The versatility of the horse has led it to be used for different purposes over the centuries. This makes it an ideal horse for all levels of riders from amateurs to professional riders. The horse is good even for beginners if they have the confidence of being able to manage such a tall horse.

Conclusion / Summary

The Westphalian horse was bred in Germany. It was bred for use as riding horses for nobles and the cavalry. It was also intended for use on the farm for heavy work. Over the years, the need to make it a fast horse led it to be bred to be light in build.

The horse is strong and muscular but yet lightly built. It is an easy keeper and has a pleasant disposition. The horse gets along well with its owner and rider, thanks to it being calm and willing to be trained.

It does not need a special diet. It is a horse that lives for a long time and has no health issues. This makes the horse a valuable one thanks to its many uses. The horse has done exceedingly well in dressage and show events. It is an expensive horse that is used for various purposes and easy to handle.

There’s a whole world of horse breeds out there to explore! Discover and find out more information by checking out our horse breed guides.