Black Forest Horse: Breed Profile

Training, Grooming, and Care Tips

A Black Forest Horse being ridden

Monika Kind, Rickenbach / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

With its long, flowing mane and elegant way of moving, the Black Forest Horse is a very unique draft breed. These horses are known for their great temperaments, and you might see them pulling a carriage, working farmland, or competing under saddle. This German breed is rare today, so count yourself lucky if you’re able to see one of these horses in person.

Breed Overview

Height: 14.3 to 16 hands

Weight: 1,250 to 1,400 pounds

Body Type: Medium- to light-draft

Best For: Driving and riding

Life Expectancy: 25 to 30 years

Black Forest Horse History and Origins

The Black Forest Horse owes its name to its place of origin – the Black Forest in the Baden-Wurttemberg region of Germany. Approximately 600 years ago, this breed’s ancestors were sturdy, strong horses who worked in these highland farm areas. They were able to withstand harsh winters and were instrumental in local farmers’ ability to work the land.

The breed was carefully refined and preserved, and a studbook was established in 1896. By 1981, the Black Forest Horse’s numbers were declining, since evolving machinery and transportation models decreased the demand for these horses. Today, about 700 Black Forest Horse mares are registered.

Black Forest Horse Size

This light to medium-weight draft horse typically weighs between 1,250 and 1,400 pounds. Mares average between 14.3 and 15.2 hands, while stallions may grow as large as 16 hands.

Breeding and Uses

The Black Forest Horse is quite rare currently. The Marbach stud in Germany is working to preserve the breed.

These draft horses are mainly used for driving, but they can also be ridden. When they compete, judges look for them to exhibit elegance and grace in all of their movements.

Colors and Markings

These horses sport chestnut coats paired with flaxen manes and tails. The coat can be any number of different shades, with some coats appearing to be almost black. The mane is thick and flowing, giving these horses a distinctive appearance.

Unique Characteristics of the Black Forest Horse

The Black Forest Horse is known for its great temperament and beautiful movement, which differentiate it from other draft breeds. Its long-strided and elegant trot make it ideal not only for driving but also for riding. This breed tends to be agreeable and well-tempered, so it’s well-suited for many different drivers and riders.

Diet and Nutrition

Black Forest Horses are relatively easy keepers and do well on a diet consisting of quality forage and a concentrate to make up for any nutritional deficits in the area. These horses may become overweight if left out on lush pasture, so careful attention is needed to maintain an appropriate body condition.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

The Black Forest Horse is generally healthy and is not known for having any breed-specific diseases or conditions. Weight management can be an issue because these horses tend to be easy keepers.

This breed is known for its agreeable, even-minded nature, making most of these horses a pleasure to work around.


Like all horses, the Black Forest Horse benefits from regular grooming. In addition to standard grooming practices, its thick mane and tail require extra attention. Some owners may choose to braid up the mane and tail to help keep them free of tangles. A quality conditioning and detangling product will go a long way in keeping this breed’s mane and tail healthy.

  • Beautiful, elegant trot

  • Great temperament

  • Versatile

  • Rare in the United States

Champion and Celebrity Black Forest Horses

The Black Forest Horse is rare, so champion horses within this breed aren’t widely known.

Is the Black Forest Horse Right for You?

There are many things to like about this breed, including its versatility and hardiness. Because the Black Forest Horse has a patient, gentle temperament, it can even be well-paired with beginner riders and drivers.

A single horse could work farmland, pull carriages, and compete under saddle at a horse show, making this breed a great choice for families who want to be able to a versatile horse.

While the Black Forest Horse is ideal for many, the breed is exceptionally rare in the United States, so it may not be a practical choice for your next horse.

How to Adopt or Buy the Black Forest Horse

Black Forest Horses are few and far between in America, with only a handful of breeders existing within the country. Because this breed is so rare, these horses can command high prices and can be difficult to purchase.

If you have your heart set on this breed, work to connect with a breeder and plan to wait until the right horse for you becomes available. You may also need to include significant shipping costs in your budget.

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