These days the Hungarian Warmblood is more commonly known as the Hungarian Sports Horse, which is a reflection of its purpose and use. Although the breed is relatively unknown it produces many top competition horses, particularly in the field of dressage. These days, its second home (and home to many of the finest specimens of the breed) is the U.S.A. which gave shelter to many Hungarian immigrants and their horses.
The Hungarian Warmblood was originally created by the Mezohegyes State Stud, which was founded in 1784 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The stud also created and/or developed other Hungarian breeds such as the Nonius, the Kisber Felver, the Gidran (also known as the Hungarian Anglo Arab) and the Furioso(-North Star). All of these breeds were used to create the Hungarian Warmblood and there was also input from other Warmblood breeds such as the Holsteiner and the Hanoverian.
During the 19th century, the Hungarian warmblood was an excellent aristocratic riding horse and cavalry mount but the early 20th century almost destroyed the breed. Hungary suffered greatly from World War One and even more so from World War Two. This carnage was then followed by about half a century of communist rule during which the idea of recreational horse-riding was met with strong disapproval by the authorities and many fine animals were slaughtered for meat.
Fortunately however many Hungarians made their escape to other countries, particularly the United States and some managed to take their horses with them. The U.S. did provide some assistance with this, for example General Patton managed to rescue some Hungarian Warmbloods and Lippizaners from Russian-occupied territory. Even after the fighting, during the Cold War, Hungarian horses continued to be imported to the U.S. Today the U.S. remains home to some of the very best Hungarian warmbloods, many of which are descendants of horses imported and bred by Countess Judith Gyurky and Countess Margit Sigray Bessenyey. Meanwhile the fall of Communism and the liberalisation of Hungary have allowed for the Hungarian warmblood to be rediscovered in its true homeland.
Hungarian Warmbloods are noticeably taller and lighter than most other warmbloods. They typically stand around 16HH to 17HH and can be any whole colour. Physically they closely resemble the English Thoroughbred with their delicate-looking frames and long legs although their legs are noticeably stronger and with denser bone and they have good, strong quarters for jumping. Even though Hungarian Warmbloods have produced top-level jumping horses such as Randi, ridden by John Whitake and Heritage Poker.most noteably ridden by Marcus Beerbaum, they are far better known as dressage horses. The reason for this is their superb presence, excellent deportment and elegant gaits. They move with a graceful and energetic action and show plenty of poise in the show-ring.
Many fans of the Hungarian Warmblood compare them to a violin. Played by professionals they can be a delight. Played by amateurs they can sound simply horrible. Hungarian Warmbloods have many fine qualities. They are intelligent, quick to learn, noble and honest. They are also friendly, good-natured and free from malice and vices. Even their most ardent admirers, however, will acknowledge that they have very clear views on life and when these differ from their owners they can be hugely obstinate. Owners of Hungarian Warmbloods, therefore need to have much the same qualities as good children's teachers. They need to remember that no matter how many horses they have ridden or indeed how many Hungarian Warmbloods they have ridden, each Hungarian Warmblood is very much an individual. Instead of thinking in terms of the technical points their horse's training must cover, they must think in terms of teaching the horse and adjusting their training plan to fit in with the horse's needs. Owner's who are able to meet this challenge will discover that Hungarian Warmbloods are known for bonding very strongly with humans and indeed were traditionally looked on as life-companions. In many cases they still are, which is why the market in them can be limited compared to other horses. Quite simply owners of Hungarian Warmboods do tend to keep them for life, even after their career as competition horses is over.
Hungarian Warmblood Health
In spite of their close resemblance to the Thoroughbred, Hungarian Warmbloods are largely free of genetic disorders. This may well be because of the diverse gene pool that went into their creation. Even during the chaos of World War Two and the start of the Cold War when the stock was depleted, the population was kept healthy by injections of blood from other breeds. Like most of the warmblood populations the Hungarian Warmblood is a breeding standard rather than a true breed and currently any horse of the correct conformational type can be accepted into the registry provided that it passes the grading tests. As the population of Hungarian Warmbloods is well on its way to recovery, there is a tendency to breed from within the ranks of registered Hungarian Warmbloods. It is however still perfectly permissible to breed with other kinds of animals with Thoroughbreds and other warmbloods being used to help increase both the gene pool and the population.
Caring for a Hungarian Warmblood
In practical terms, caring for a Hungarian warmblood is much the same as caring for any other competition horse. Although they will need stabling and feeding, they are better doers than their Thoroughbred looks might suggest. As has previously been mentioned, Hungarian Warmbloods tend to be very “people” horses and if their owner fails to visit them for some reason, even if they are cared for in practical terms, their absence will be noticed. Owners should therefore be prepared to make every effort to visit their horse regularly even if they are not actually being ridden and even if alternative arrangements can be made for their care. They will also need time with other horses. Although they look delicate, Hungarian Warmbloods will cheerfully go out in the field in winter, as long as they have good rugs.
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