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The Holsteiner or Holstein horse is the product of systematic breeding that has been ongoing in the northernmost province of Germany, Schleswig-Holstein, since the thirteenth century. This area is one of the most successful horse breeding regions in Germany and the Holsteiner is one of Germany's oldest breeds of warmblood. The Holsteiner horse traces its ancestry to Neapolitan, Spanish and Oriental foundation stock that was carefully crossed with the native stock of the region. Originally the horse was valued by German farmers for its strength, steadiness and reliability, and by the military for its courage and ability.

Traditionally, the Holsteiner has been bay with a preference for no or few white markings. It is a well balanced horse, maturing between 16 and 17 hands with round, generous strides and a natural, elastic movement. A lovely head with large, kind eyes is carried on a nicely arched neck, rising upward out of its withers, producing elegance, lightness and self-carriage. Their temperament is relaxed and willing, with good character and an eagerness for work.

The quality of breeding stock is ensured through the annual Breeding Stock Inspections or Keurings. Horses are evaluated and graded according to quality and to their potential for adding to the breeding pool. For stallions, inspection prior to entry into the studbook is only the first step before becoming a fully approved stallion. The stallion is expected to demonstrate his athleticism through either a 100-day test or through sport. His offspring are also inspected for quality and genetic defects. Only then is he granted a lifetime breeding license. Mares are also inspected and if of sufficient quality are entered into one of three studbooks.

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