Wielkopolski (read: Vielkopolsky) – The best kept Polish secret
This breed has been developed by crossing of two currently extinct Polish breeds. Poznan breed – a mixture of Thoroughbred, Arabian, Trakehner and Hanoverian bloodlines with The Mazury breed that mainly consisted of Trakhener breed. I am fond of this breed since my horse – Pit is a Wielkopolski horse. Unfortunately, this breed is not well known worldwide. Their hardiness makes them especially suitable as a sport horse mainly in show jumping and cross country. Additionally, their easy temperament and comfortable gaits they are perfect qualities of a dressage horse.
Malopolski Horse - big horse in a smaller format
Origins of this breed are rooted in 1400s, but breed has been developed in 19th century in Southern Central Poland (Malopolska). Their pedigrees combine pure Arabian and Thoroughbred, as well as various Austro-Hungarian lines, such as Schagya, Gidran, Przedswit or Furioso. These horses are smaller than Wialkopolski horses and they generally stand from 15.3 to 16.2 hands. They are used mainly for show jumping because of their energy and hardiness.
Polish Half-Bred Horse – Kon Szlachetnej Polkrwi (S.P.)
S.P. horses are most popular horses in Poland. Polish Half-Bred horses are born mainly by breeding Polish or foreign origin mares to foreign stallions or their Polish bred sons. There are three lines of S.P. horses:
- Jumpers – which should have great jump abilities, great bascule, energy and height of 16-17 hands.
- Dressage – with harmonious movement, clear gait and calmer temperament
- Eventing – horses which are suitable for jumping, cross country as well as dressage. They characterize themselves with great endurance, focus, clear gaits and calm attitude.
The history of the Polish-Arabian horse is complex and fascinating; others have covered it much more comprehensively. But here’s a very brief snapshot:
16th century: Writings in Poland mention pure-bred Arabians. Used by the Turkish army, they’re taken by Poles as spoils of war.
1699: Poland’s truce with Turkey, so – no more spoils of war. Poles travel to the desert to purchase Arabians from tribesmen and use the horses to upgrade their own, local stock. The offspring are used for cavalry, farm work and carriage pulling.
World War I: Polish Arabian studs nearly decimated. “Of the 500 Arabian broodmares in Poland in 1914, only 25 still lived in 1918” (“History’s Hooves,” March/April 1998 print edition, Saudi Aramco World).
1921: Poland has regained its independence following the war. A new Arabian breeding program is established at Janów Podlaski Stud.
1920s: The Arabian Horse Breeding Society is formed in Poland; its first Stud book is published.
1930s: A few Americans import Polish Arabians (notably, Henry B. Babson of Chicago and J.M. Dickinson of Tennessee).
World War II: Poland loses 89 percent of its broodmares (“History’s Hooves”). More than 80 percent of Janów Podlaski’s horses perish in the 1939 war campaign; the Stud is severely damaged. But some horses are saved by Polish horsemen determined to keep the Polish Arabian in Poland.
Post-World War II: Hungary sends Arabian mares to Poland to help rebuild Poland’s breeding program. The Polish Stud also uses Russian Arabians for that same purpose.
Late 1950s: British breeder Patricia Lindsay buys Polish Arabians for her own program and becomes a purchasing agent for Americans.
Today: Poland has three state Studs – Janów Podlaski, Michałów and Białka – as well as private Studs, and “proudly serves as the wellspring for the greatest Arabian horses in the world,” according to Horsefly Film’s trailer for their new documentary film, “Path to Glory: The Rise and Rise of the Polish Arabian horse.” Read Justine Jablonska’sinterview with the filmmakers here.
(By: Justine Jablonska)
This is the heaviest breed among Polish warmbloods. It was developed by cross-breeding of warmblood mares originating from the region of Silesia and Oldenburg or East Frisian sires. They can be successfully used in equestrian sports, particularly in the discipline of driving.