Trakehner Horse: Breed Profile

Training, Grooming, and Care Tips

Bay Trakehner stallion in a field

Photographs by Maria Itina / Getty Images

The Trakehner is known for its athleticism and its ability to excel in disciplines like dressage and show jumping. In addition to being a highly athletic breed, the Trakehner is also remarkably level-headed with an agreeable nature, making it a horse that’s suitable for a wide variety of riders. After a successful competition career, many Trakehners can go on to become schoolmasters, helping younger, less experienced riders to continue to learn about their discipline.

Breed Overview

Weight: 1,200 pounds

Height: 15.1 to 16.2 hands

Body Type: Athletic and with good bone

Best For: Dressage, show jumping, eventing

Life Expectancy: 25 years

Trakehner Horse History and Origins

The Trakehner originates from a stud farm in Trakehnen, East Prussia. That farm was founded in 1732 and initially bred stocky, unrefined horses. By the 1800s, Thoroughbreds and Arabians were introduced to the breed to help refine the horses and increase their endurance. The goal was to develop horses with the strength to serve as wartime mounts, but the versatility to be farm horses during peaceful times.

World War II resulted in the horses being moved from East Prussia, and breeding has since centered in West Germany. Trakehners were imported to North America in the 1950s, and United States breeding operations have since been established.

Trakehner Horse Size

Today, the Trakehner is a large breed. Stallions typically stand about 16.2 hands high, while mares are smaller, standing between 15.1 and 16.1 hands.

Chestnut Trakehner foal in a field
 Abramova Kseniya / Getty Images
Dark bay Trakehner stallion standing by a pond
Edoma / Getty Images 

Breeding and Uses

Today’s Trakehner is a talented athletic horse that has made its mark in multiple disciplines. They’re highly popular dressage horses, but they have also excelled in show jumping and eventing, thanks to their endurance. They are bred worldwide, though German-bred horses are still prized for their quality, and many riders continue to import Trakehners into the United States.

Colors and Markings

The Trakehner is most commonly bay, gray, chestnut, or black, though other coat colors like roan and pinto do occur.

Bay Trakehner cantering in the snow
 Alexia Khruscheva / Getty Images
Chestnut Trakehner trotting in an arena
Vikarus / Getty Images 

Unique Characteristics of the Trakehner Horse

Trakehners are known for their natural elegance and athleticism, and their springy trot is ideal for dressage. While Trakehners are athletically talented, one of their most unique characteristics is their temperament. These horses are intelligent, but they’re also hardworking and have a natural desire to please their riders.

Diet and Nutrition

Trakehners tend to be easy keepers, and many will maintain appropriate weight when provided with quality forage and a feed concentrate. Some horses can maintain weight without a feed concentrate at all, but it’s important to provide vitamins and minerals to ensure their nutritional needs are met. Horses that are easy keepers can easily gain too much weight, so their access to lush pasture may need to be monitored and restricted.

Common Health and Behavior Problems

Trakehners are known for their calm and even-keeled temperaments, so behavior problems are relatively uncommon.

Because Arabian bloodlines do run through the breed, Trakehners are subjected to three genetic disorders:

  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy is a neurologic condition that affects foals, usually before six months old. Affected foals are at an increased risk of accidents and cannot be ridden.
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome affects two types of white blood cells in foals. Affected foals may experience symptoms like pneumonia, colic, and weight loss, and they usually die within their first six months of life.
  • Lavender Foal Syndrome is an inherited condition that causes neurological issues like seizures, limb hypertension, and paddling leg movements. This condition is lethal.

All of these disorders can be identified through DNA testing.

Grooming

Trakehners don’t have any special grooming needs, but they’ll benefit from regular attentive grooming. Thorough currying can help to promote a shiny, healthy coat, and regular hoof care is also important.

Pros
  • Highly athletic

  • Great temperament

  • Versatile

Cons
  • Can be expensive to buy

  • Prone to a few genetic issues

Champion and Celebrity Trakehner Horses

Trakehners have risen to the top ranks of competitions, and there are countless famous representatives of this breed:

  • Biotop, Grand Prix dressage mare of Dr. Reiner Klimke
  • Almox Prints, a show jumping stallion who competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona
  • Peron TSF, a stallion who competed in the Atlanta Games with Michelle Gibson
  • Heuriger, a stallion who earned Silver in the 1994 World Equestrian Games and who was named as the most successful dressage stallion in the world
  • Windfall, an eventing stallion who competed with Ingrid Klimke and Darren Chiacchia

Is the Trakehner Horse Right for You?

Trakehners can make great mounts. Their size makes them ideal for larger riders who prefer a taller horse, and their athleticism is favored by riders who are looking to compete in sports like jumping or dressage. These horses have great temperaments, so pairings with intermediate riders are often successful.

How to Adopt or Buy the Trakehner Horse

Trakehners are widely available for sale in the United States. They are often highly valued and can cost $15,000 or more. When buying a horse, it’s always wise to have a pre-purchase exam performed to evaluate the horse for potential health and soundness issues that could affect its performance.

Because Trakehners are highly valued, they rarely come up for adoption through rescues.

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