The East Prussian horse stands among the German Halfbloods as highest in the English blood. His breeding region was at one time in the eastern and the western part of Prussia (today Poland). The low lying pastures by the Baltic Sea are far from the Atlantic Ocean, being wide open to the cold winds coming from the eastern steppes and ruled by a harsh inland climate. These climatic conditions influenced the development of the East Prussian horse and gave him the characteristic of a strong constitution and the ability to endure various and often tough climatic changes.
The young foals used to be bought out from a smaller private farms and were sent to bigger farms with larger pastures on the eastern and southeaster part of the country.
In the earlier centuries all over Lithuania and it’s surroundings, smaller horses of the tarpan type, related to Polish horses Bilgoraj, who were mainly of “mouse” gray color with a black stripe going the length of the back, also known as the “Schweiken”, laid the foundation for the East Prussian horse. They were equally tough, hard and durable. These Schweiken were crossbred with Oriental stallions, especially during the times of latifundiums belonging to the Knights of the Teutonic Order. In later centuries the horses were crossbred with thoroughbreds and lighter warmbloods, because the East Prussia breeding program was to supply the military with riding horses. The breeding of East Prussian horse was closely tied to breeding in the state stud farm in Trakehnen that was established by Friederich the Great in 1732, were also came a herd of 70 Kladrubians stolen during the 7 year war at the battle of Cologne (Köln). In Trakehnen were at first largely used the Oriental stallions, among which in the beginning of the 19th century was the most prominent Turkmen stallion Turk Mayn Atty. Later in the sixties of the 19th century the direction of breeding was changed and in the breeding were mainly used the English halfbloods. The intent in those days was, to produce stallions whose offspring would be suitable for the military riding horse. Till the beginning of the First World War the military was purchasing a half of the remounts in East Prussia.
East Prussia was formally the largest region for breeding horses. Before the First World War there were registered in the Stud Book of the East Prussian warmbloods 18,000 mares present of the Trakehner origin. The East Prussian breed was founded on 8 stallion lines from which by the numbers most represented were; Perfectionist and his son a Trakehner stallion Tempelhueter as well as the line of the Trakehner stallion Dampfross from the Dingo line.
The selected two and half year old colts (young males) from Trakehnen and the purchased young stallions from other farms were sent to be trained at the training center in Zwion (East Prussia), where they were for one year submitted to a hard training under saddle and where a great emphasis was put on the jumping ability. The intention then was to breed a German hunter horse, which would compete with the English and the Irish hunters. The training ended in the 3-day endurance test.
This horse proved itself quite worthy during the First World War with his endurance, while very seldom getting ill.
After the war it was necessary to change the goal in breeding to produce a somewhat heavier warmblood that would be useful not only in the military but in the agriculture as well. This was reached by lowering the crossbreeding with the English thoroughbreds and by selecting halfblooded horses of greater depth and width. Also, first and for most, a great emphasis was put on more intensive upbringing of the young stock in order to increase the massiveness of the horses.
The ideal and favorite model of the East Prussian horse was a horse of longer, rectangular frame, with shorter shin, deep and wide torso, refined exterior, harmonious, good mechanics in movement, well balanced, calm and lively temperament (not nervous) and of hard constitution. The head must be small, refined and expressing the temperament. The neck should be well set, lower and of balanced length, neither elk (backward) nor swan shaped. The withers is prominent, the back is of medium length and resilient, the hip is wider with rounder, longer and muscular hindquarters, wide, deep and arched torso, strong fundament with prominent hocks. The walk and trot is roomy.
The East Prussian horses registered in the Stud Book had on the left thigh brand of two moose/elk antlers pointing toward each other; horses bred in Trakehnen had only one moose/elk antler on the left thigh. In the middle of the 20th century, the East Prussian horse was bred mainly in Poland.
Today the Trakehner in its small numbers, hardly represent the beautiful East Prussian horse, especially the one bred prior to the First World War.