- Latvian -

The Latvian Light Harness Horse originated in Latvia, which was formerly the U.S.S.R., in the 19th century. It can be classified into three distinct types: the standard Latvian Light Harness Horse, the lightweight Latvian, and the heavier version, which can be found in the heavy horse breed section. It is usually thought that the Latvian Light Harness Horse is an ancient breed descended from the original stock that gave rise to all the heavy draft breeds in Europe. The Latvian has had infusions of Dole Gudbrandsdal, North Swedish Horse, Zemaituka, Finnish Draft, and Oldenburg blood over the years, and these breeds have evolved along similar lines.

Since the 17th century, the Latvian has had infusions of English Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Oldenburg blood. It is this influence that has led to greater refinement and quality within the breed. The lightweight Latvian has been subjected to greater influence from the Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Oldenburg than the standard Latvian. Perhaps the greatest influence on the development of the modern Latvian has been the infusions of Hanoverian, Oldenburg, and Holstein blood.

Between the 1920s and the 1940s, there were large infusions of Oldenburg blood, as 42 Oldenburg mares and 65 Oldenburg stallions were imported from the Groningen stud in Holland. Both the lightweight and the standard Latvian make excellent riding horses, and are also able to carry out some light draft work, although since the 1960s, there has been more emphasis on breeding the lightweight Latvian as a competitive riding horse. The modern Latvian, which is still periodically improved by Oldenburg, Hanoverian, and Thoroughbred blood, makes a first class jumping and dressage mount. In general, the Latvian has a calm and willing temperament and is a powerful animal with good endurance.

In appearance, they are a middleweight stamp of riding horses with a rather large head set on a muscular, elegant neck. The shoulders are nicely sloping and powerful, the chest broad and deep, the back straight and well--proportioned, muscular hindquarters, and short, strong legs with good joints and hard hooves. Conformational faults they may exhibit are cowhocks and a tendency toward ringbone. They can be black, bay, brown, and occasionally chestnut in color, and they stand between 15 and 16 hh.


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