History of the German Riding Pony
The breeding of the Deutsche Reitpony (German Riding Pony) began around 1965 by crossbreeding various English pony breeds, in particular the Welsh pony (mainly Section B’s), Arabians, Anglo-Arabians, the New Forest Pony and Thoroughbreds. The goal was to breed competition quality ponies for children to ride in sport horse competitions, more easily controllable by children than the typical large Warmblood horses used by adults, while also keeping some pony characteristics including character, type and willingness to perform.
Initially, Thoroughbred and Arabian stallions were crossed with pony-sized Fjords and Haflingers. However, these cross breeding attempts to produce a sport pony in only one generation were not successful. They had a little more luck crossing the Dülmener, a native German pony with Arabs but this still did not lead to the desired type either.
The type of pony that was sought after slowly took shape and by 1975 a distinct German Riding Pony type had developed and was starting to show good results in competition.
Over the years the various pony societies established regulations and eventually the Federation Equestre Nationale (German Equestrian Federation—FN) took over the books of these pony groups. The goal was to produce a real riding type pony so it was agreed not to allow the cross of Haflinger or Fjord with the German Riding Pony as these breeds had their own books and brands.
Several important and prepotent stallions emerged that were used to further develop the breed goal. It also took many years of careful research to find the mares that consistently produced ponies that contributed to the breed development.
In the 1990s attempts were made to further improve the breed through the infusion of Trakehner, Hanoverian and Holsteiner blood, but this infusion of horse blood could often result in the pony type and qualities being lost in that generation. However in saying that, many of these resulting smaller warmblood crosses did contribute signifcantly in subsequent generations.
As with full size warmblood breeding, registries developed in each region of the country and animals were inspected as foals and breeding stock at keurings or inspections. The breed standard for these ponies include a small head, large eyes, small ears, clean throatlatch, a long neck set well on the body with a pronounced wither and a long croup. They are bred for horse-like movement that is correct, rhythmic, and elastic with a large stride, expressive gaits and clear impulsion from the hindquarters. The goal is a pony between 13.2 and 14.2 hands (138cm-148cm) but of course many ponies go over size and there is a robust market for these small horses in Germany as well. These ponies should closely resemble a small horse in their proportions and movement. Many consider them a smaller version of a warmblood horse, however, the best German Riding Pony will combine warmblood talent and movement with pony character, charm and intelligence.
Over recent years the Germans have enjoyed tremendous success in their German Riding Pony breeding programs and are producing talented ponies, that in all aspects but size resemble their larger sized warmblood “cousins”.
Today's German Riding Pony breeders use specific bloodlines to reliably create German Riding Ponies that fulfill the goal of a pony type who competes with the athleticism of a small warmblood.
German pony breeding plays a central role in the long term success of its riders in the world dressage rankings with many notable Olympic riders having commenced their careers in pony dressage.
The British Riding Pony which has had so much influence on the development of the German Riding Pony, traces its roots back to the 1850's when there was a need for a small high class horse for polo. Polo breeders sought arabians and small thoroughbreds as foundation stock. Of the 57 stallions in Britain's first polo pony stud book, there are 24 arab or barb horses imported from the Middle East and India and 11 small Thoroughbreds.
There are also two Welsh Cob stallions amongst the Welsh and Welsh partbreds and a partbred hackney.
Mares were generally made up of native and cross-bred ponies.
In 1893 the Polo Pony Society became the Polo and Riding Pony Society, recognising the many other uses that the ponies had.
With the need for polo ponies diminishing, the former Polo Pony Society became the National Pony Society in 1913.
In both British and German Riding Pony pedigrees, one of the major stallions appearing is Bwlch Valentino, a half Thoroughbred stallion with arab, welsh and polo pony breeding.
In 1971 Bwlch Valentino was crossed with a part arab mare, Bubbles to create the legendary chestnut stallion Valentino.