Riverpark Waileah
Riverpark Waileah. © Anne Stewart

Hanoverians are horses of predominantly Hanoverian descent, which are bred according to the breeding regulations of the Verband Hannoverscher Warmblutzuchter e.V. (VHW) – the Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders Association in Germany.

They are registered with and have pedigree papers issued by, either the NZHS, the Verband, or any other Hanoverian Society that is recognized by the Verband, and are therefore eligible to wear the trademark registered Hanoverian brand.

In order for a horse to be eligible for Hanoverian birth registration and branding, both parents must have earned breeding approval from the authorizing body of the German Hanoverian Verband or one of its daughter societies. However, birth-branded Hanoverians are not automatically eligible to be used for breeding registered stock. Both stallions and mares must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for entry into the breeding Studbook. Rigorous selection procedures for stallions ensure that only those that meet the criteria will gain breeding approval. Mares in all Hanoverian breeding countries, including New Zealand, must undergo appraisal and classification by authorized inspectors.

The registration of a foal must take place in accordance with the society’s studbook regulations and the brand be applied before the foal is weaned.

The modern Hanoverian horse originates from the Hanover breeding area in Germany and is a product of decades of stringent selection of breeding stock, with the objective of continually improving correctness, athleticism and temperament in the offspring.

Originally, in keeping with the times, the horses were used in war, in agriculture, and as riding and carriage horses. As war, farming and transport became mechanized, the purpose of the horses changed, and they needed to be more suitable for pleasure and sport. Judicious introduction of Thoroughbred, Arab, Trakehner and Holstein bloodlines, has brought us the modern Hanoverian, more refined, more elegant, more rideable than his ancestors, yet inheriting their courage, power and athleticism.

Today, the Hanoverian breeding area is the largest in Europe and has spread to include daughter societies in all corners of the globe. However, it originated in Lower Saxony, where horses have been bred since ancient times.

The modern Hanoverian

The modern Hanoverian horse represents one of the most prominent breeds for riding horses in the world.

In Germany, the studbook comprises close to 19,500* registered brood mares and 450 approved breeding stallions and covers the largest homogeneous breeding area in Europe. Each year, Hanoverian horses are exported from Germany all over the world for both riding and breeding. The German Hanoverian Association has encouraged the establishment of daughter societies in Australia, Canada, DenmarkFinlandFrance, Great Britain, Russia, USA, as well as here in New Zealand.

In equestrian sport, horses from the Hanoverian breeding programme feature in all disciplines at Olympic, World championship and World Cup level. Many top international competition horses carry the H brand – the Hanoverian trade mark – on the lateral aspect of their left hindquarter.

*(figures taken from “The Hanoverian” 1/2010)


In 1735, George II, elector of Hanover, issued a royal decree to set up a public stud (Landegestuet) to promote horse breeding and improve the quality of the farm-bred horses. Twelve stallions suitable for “high school” and carriage driving were imported and the Celle state stud was set up. The first covering stations were developed in 1736.

An official Hanoverian Warmblood Studbook was established by the Royal Agricultural Society in 1888.

In 1899 the Chamber of Agriculture took over responsibility for the studbook until 1922, when it passed these duties on to the Verband Hannoverscher Warmblutzüchter (the Society of Hanoverian Warmblood Breeders), which came into existence that same year and is still the governing body today.

The “Verband” was the result of the unification of fifty-four local breeding clubs with a combined membership of more than 10,500, to co-ordinate their activities for the good of all. These local clubs still exist today and are the main pillars of the Verband.

Although the Celle State Stud and the Hannoveraner Verband work together in close cooperation, they are in fact separate entities. As its name implies, the State Stud at Celle is a state owned enterprise, while the Hannoveraner Verband is a private corporation.

Read about the Hanoverian in New Zealand