The Oldenburg originated in Lower Saxony, a German state in the northwestern part of the country. In the 17th century organized breeding first took place to produce a high-stepping carriage horse from the local farm stock. More refined Danish Frederiksborgers, Turkish and Andalusian stallions were imported for this purpose. In 1923, the Oldenburg studbook merged the neighbouring Ostfriesen studbook and became the Oldenburg Horse Breeders’ Association.
The breed was further enhanced in the 20th century with the addition of Anglo-Norman, Thoroughbred, and Anglo-Arab blood. Later on Trakehner, Hanoverian, Holsteiner, Westfalian, Dutch Warmblood and Selle Français influence continued to improve the Oldenburg and create a horse suitable for sport and recreation.
Every autumn, the Oldenburg Verband holds a licensing evaluation for young stallions, who are then auctioned off to new owners as studs or as performance prospects.
Oldenburgs have expressive heads, big frames, powerful joints, a high-set neck, and long legs. They have long-striding elastic gaits that can be light and elegant if they are dressage-type horses, or powerful and athletic if they are jumper-type. Height ranges from 16-17.2 hands. While many are black, brown, bay, chestnut, or grey, the Oldenburg stud book is quite liberal and also allows coloured coats such as paint markings.
A registered Oldenburg sports a brand on the left hip showing the letter “O” with a crown and the last two digits of the horse’s life number.
The Oldenburg excels in dressage, show jumping, and less often eventing, and they also make elegant carriage horses.