The Latvian breed has only been established
since 1952, but is believed to have descended from ancient roots.
It is likely that the Latvian was closely related to the Dole Gudbrandsdal,
the North Swedish Horse and other heavy European draft breeds, originally
dating back to the prehistoric Forest Horse of Northern Europe.
During the 17th century, the breed had German riding horse, English
Thoroughbred, and Arabian blood introduced to it, but the most influential
infusion was that from the Olden burg, Hanoverian, and Holstein.
During the early half of the 20th century, 65 Oldenburg stallions
and 42 Oldenburg mares were imported from the Netherlands which
became the base for developing the breed. There were then crosses
made using Hanoverian, Norfolk Roadster, Oldenburg part-breds, East
Friesian, and Ardennes.
There are three basic types of Latvian
horse: the heavy draft horse, which is the closest to the original
type, and a horse of great strength and pulling power. Secondly,
the Latvian harness horse, which is particularly suited to light
draft work, also makes a good riding horse. Lastly, there is the
most modern type - the Latvian riding horse, which has developed
through the introduction of English Thoroughbred blood, as well
as Arabian blood. This is a much finer, lighter type of riding horse.
The riding horse type is becoming the most popular and the old heavy
draft type is now rarely seen. However, the modern riding type is
still able to perform admirably in harness, although not having
the same draft strength. The Latvian as a breed is particularly
versatile and the modern riding horse type has become extremely
successful in the competition world competing at dressage show jumping.
In appearance, the Latvian tend to have
a large, but attractive, head, with small alert ears and expressive
eyes. The neck is long and muscular and set to quite high withers.
The shoulders are sloping and the chest is deep and broad. They
have a straight back with muscular legs and good, hard joints.
Conformational problems that may be seen are cow hocks and a predisposition
to ringbone. In general, they have good muscular structure, and
good stamina and endurance. Typically they are bay in color, although
occasionally black or chestnut, and stand between 15.3 and 16.3
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