KWPN–Dutch Warmblood

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The KWPN stands for Koninklijk Warmbloed Paardenstamboek Nederland (Studbook of the Royal Dutch Sporthorse) and focuses on breeding warmblood sporthorses…dressage horses, showjumpers, eventers, harness horses and Gelder horses with emphasis on performance, durability and conformation.

Registered breeding commenced 1887 with studbooks merging to become The Dutch Warmblood Studbook in 1970. In 1988, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix bestowed the title of Royal to mark the 100 year anniversary as an official Warmblood studbook.

Warmbloods aren’t a distinct breed like Arabians, Thoroughbreds etc. but a type of horse that has evolved over the years and which is continually being improved. Prior to World War 2, there were two types of Dutch horses; The Groninger of Northern Holland, and the Gelderlander of Southern Holland. Groningen has heavy clay soil and a denser type of horse evolved, while Gelderland had sandy soil and a lighter type of horse.

For hundreds of years they were used for riding, as war mounts, carriage horses and for farm work and as the horses were so necessary for survival, any horse with conformation faults, unsoundness or bad temperament were culled.

As times changed, the horse started to be used more for recreation, so focus shifted to breeding a riding horse by including Thoroughbred blood, along with other European breeds. Meantime, traditional Gelderland horses continued to be bred and today the Dutch Warmblood is divided into three categories; sport horse, harness and Gelderland.

There is a strict selection process for stallions, and they are judged on pedigree, conformation, movement, health, temperament and sporting ability to be accepted into the KWPN, with KWPN horses and their offspring excelling in world competition in the highest levels of dressage and jumping.

The Gelders horse breeding goal is to produce an elegantly-built horse that can be used more for general recreational pursuits, both under saddle and in harness.

Moorland Moorland's Totilas


Dutch Wamblood horses are usually between 16-17hh; to be accepted as a breeding horse, stallions must be 15.3hh with mares 15.2hh.

The most common coat colours are bay, chestnut, black or grey, but there are also broken coloured Dutch warmbloods now being bred. White markings are common on the face and legs.

They have a refined, expressive head with a straight profile; a long, arched neck, prominent withers, sloping shoulder, smooth topline with deep girth. The forelegs are strong, with muscled forearm. Powerful hindquarters with well let down hocks.

Dutch Warmbloods are intelligent with an eagerness to please, and bred for the highest levels of dressage and showjumping.

Horses with congential eye defects, an under or over bite, or other conformation faults, are disqualified from breeding.

Hickstead Hickstead

The breed continues to be developed and improved thanks to a strict selection system and evaluation of horses deemed suitable for breeding. Annual inspections, or Keurings, are held in The Netherlands and North America every year.

The KWPN has 30,000 members and is one of the world’s largest studbooks, with around 12,000 foals born each year. It has also been the world’s leading studbook for dressage and jumping horses for two years running, in 2010 and 2011. Leading horses are the late showjumping stallion, Hickstead, and dressage stallion, Moorland’s Totilas….who also holds the world’s highest dressage score in Grand Prix Freestyle and won three gold medals at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games.

Export of KWPN horses accounts for around 85% of sales, with buyers including Athina Onassis and Bruce Springsteen. In four years, export of KWPN horses to China grew from €21,000 to €1.8 million!

For more information, visit the KWPN website.

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