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A man trotting a Schleswiger Heavy Draft horse.The Schleswiger Heavy Draft originates from the north of Germany. It is of middle size and weight and was influenced by the introduction of the Jutland Heavy Draft and other heavy horse breeds. Until the sixties the Schleswiger served as a working horse. Nowadays it is on the list of the endangered domestic animal breeds from the society for the protection of old domestic animal breeds (GEH).



The Schleswiger Heavy Draft is of middle size and weight. It stands at approximately 154 - 162 cm. The stallions are on average, bigger than the mares.


The legs are strong and dry, lightly feathered. The round hooves are of good quality. The back should be short and well muscled. The head is short and straight with a broad forehead. The neck should be well proportioned.

Three Schleswiger Heavy Draft horses pulling a plow. Photo provided by Dr. Bernd Luehr.The Schleswiger is usually chestnut colored, although black, gray and bay occur. The Schleswiger is an excellent mover with an astounding walk and trot.

The Schleswiger has a good placid character and is very willing to learn. They are versatile, agile and of great endurance,and are easy to keep. Feeding problems are virtually unknown to this breed.



In 1888 the earlier breeders association of Schleswig Holstein decided to separate the breeding of warm-blooded and heavy horses. In 1891 the Schleswiger Horse Breeders Society was founded. The brandmark with the letters "V.S.P" in an oval are still used today to brand the horses on the left back leg.


A Schleswiger Heavy Draft horse pulling a cart. Photo provided by Dr. Bernd Luehr.Through the introduction of different breeds, Oldenburger, Holstein and Suffolk Punch the desired results in breeding couldn't be fulfilled. In 1862 Jutland stallions were imported. Since 1930 virtually all Schleswiger are related to the "Oppenheim" (Shire or Suffolk Punch) son "Munkedal".


The height of popularity was reached in 1949. In the Studbook there were approximately 25,000 mares and 450 stallions registered.


Due to the progress in agriculture and the usage of machinery the Schleswiger, as well as all German heavy horse breeds, suffered. In 1976 the breed reached an all time low - only 35 mares and 5 stallions remained. In the same year the old society was dissolved and the breed was incorporated in the Stud Book Schleswig Holstein / Hamburg. In 1991 the society of Schleswiger Heavy Draft Horse Breeders was founded with the aim to nurture and preserve the breed. Today the society has about 200 members. There are now over 200 mares and 30 stallions registered in the stud book.


Areas of Occupation

Since the beginning of the 20th Century the Schleswiger was mainly used as a working horse in farming and hauling timber, as well as pulling omnibuses, in industry for military usage and as brewery horses.

A man holding the bridle on a Schleswiger Heavy Draft horse. Photo provided by Dr. Bernd Luehr.Nowadays they are mainly used for pulling covered wagons and for pleasure purposes. Also used in farming, timber hauling and in nurseries, these are popular places to find them. The breed is found predominantly in the most northern state of Germany, Schleswig Holstein, at the same time a certain amount are to be found in Lower Saxony. Single animals have been sold to other German states.



Society of Schleswiger Horse Breeders



Text: Dr. Bernd Luehr
English: Barbara Hopf

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