Kladrubers have been bred on the national horse breeding farm, Kladruby nad Laben, in the Czech Republic, for nearly 400 years. Originally bred as carriage horses for the German/Austrian royal House of Habsburg, this breeding line of horses was founded in 1579 by Rudolf II. Considered rare, the breed has survived with new blood being added from other fine lines from Spain and Italy.
The horses come in white (grays) and black and share some bloodlines with the famous Lipizzaner horses.
One of the main uses for the Kladruber was as a carriage horse for royalty. The white ones were preferred for happy occasions while the black were used for sombre occasions such as funerals.
The Kladrubers are put outside every day for their health and exercise.
At Pardubice (which is not too far from the Kladruby breeding farm), a steeplechase event was first held in 1874. The course has been changed several times over the past 144 years with improvements in mind each time. The Kladrubers, being bred for use as carriage horses, are not racing in the steeplechase, but in the photo below, they are making a drive-by appearance as a sideshow for the main race.
Some facts about Kladrubers:
They have been bred for over 400 years.
A fire in 1757 destroyed about 200 years’ worth of breeding records.
Much of the breed was destroyed in the 1930s when they were killed for food. (What a horror that is.)
Since then the breeding program has brought the numbers of Kladrubers up again.
They are still used by royalty for their carriages, and public ceremonies.
The Swedish police has used them for special occasions.
Kladrubers are used by the Danish royalty.
The Czechs sent a breeding pair of Kladrubers to Britain’s William and Kate as a wedding gift.
The white Kladrubers are only seen at the breeding farm at Kladruby, while the blacks are bred at Slatinany.
And now for the steeplechase, a variety of horse breeds, not Kladrubers, are running this race.
You can see in the photo below, that the horse on the right is having second thoughts about jumping the obstacle in front of him. I don’t blame him! A broken leg could end it all.
And off they go for another round.
The photos were taken by friends who live within driving distance of this area, using a small camera, not with a blog post in mind. I appreciated the photos and information about their trips to the Kladruber farm and the steeplechase in nearby Pardubice.
While searching for more info about the Kladruber horses, I came across a blog that has amazing closeups of Kladrubers. If you are interested, please visit. http://www.tresbohemes.com/2017/02/kladruber-czech-horses-of-emperors-and-kings/
Their post is wonderful.