The Nonius breed developed in Hungary during the
early 19th century. The bred gets its name from the sire Nonius
Senior, who foaled in Normandy in 1810 and was taken by the Hungarian
cavalry in 1813 after the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig. Nonius
Senior went to the prestigious Hungarian Stud Farm of Mezohegyes,
where he stood for the next 22 years, during which time the Nonius
breed was established Nonius Senior was sired by a stallion called
Orion, who is known to have been an English half-bred. It is though
he had some Norfolk Roadster connections and his dam was a Norman
mare. It is documented that Nonius Senior was not particularly well-conformed
or attractive, traits that he fortunately did not pass on to his
It does seem strange, however, that a poor=looking stallion was
used as a primary stud at the great Mexohegyes. Nonius Senior was
put to a wide variety of different mares, including Andalusian,
Arabian, Norman, Kladruber, and English half-breds.
Later in the development of the breed, the English Thoroughbred
was used to further improve the stock both from a physical aspect
and in terms of ability. Nonius Senior was a prolific stallion who
went on to sire 15 excellent stallions, including Nonius IX, who
in turn were instrumental in fixing the breed characteristics. The
Nonius breed developed into two strains: a heavier larger type,
suitable for light draft and farm work, as well as being a
riding hors, and a smaller, lighter strain, more suited to pure
Recently, very successful crosses have been made using Nonius
mares and English Thoroughbred stallions to produce first-rate competition
and sports horses. The Nonius is strong and tough with an amenable
and lively temperament. They tend to make useful all-around riding
horses, and are generally well built and sound.
In appearance, the Nonius has a long head with a straight or
convex profile; the neck is muscular, and arched in the stallions.
The shoulders are powerful but can be rather straight, the withers
are often wide and rounded, and the back too is wide and quite long.
They are wide and deep through the chest, and the legs are solid
and muscular. They are nearly always bay or brown, and their height
varies from between 14.3 and 16.2 hands high.
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