The Swedish Warmblood as one of the most popular European Warmblood breeds!
The Swedish Warmblood has a very unique background. This horse was an extremely valuable companion animal to the Scandinavian settlers as far back as 4000 BC. A small stature horse, it was considered a vital part of their fight for survival in a brutally harsh environment. As their world became entangled with war they searched for other suitable breeds to adapt it into a warhorse. Spanish and Friesian blood was introduced around the 17th century. Later developments went far beyond a horse just suited for work or war. The vision became to create an ideal sport horse, a dressage horse dedicated to the art and sport of riding. Beginning in 1918, the bloodlines of the Trakehner, Thoroughbred, Arabian, Hanoverian and others were introduced, resulting in the elegant Swedish Warmblood of today.
The Swedish warmblood is the only European warmblood horse which was bred solely to be ridden. Originally a Calvary horse, this elegant warmblood has since been breed to fulfill the need for a highly trainable sport horse which may be suitable for amateurs and professional riders interested in the Olympic disciplines. Beauty, intelligence, and tractability mark the Swedish Warmblood as one of the most popular European Warmblood breeds.
The Swedish Warmblood Association, Avelsföreningen för Svenska Varmblodiga Hästen or ASVH, was formed in 1928. The ASVH endeavored to breed versatile horses with superior temperament, with excellent movement and conformation. Thanks to the strict guidelines of the inspection and approval process, the high caliber of the Swedish horses remains unchanged. Stallions and mares are judged in hand when at least 3 years of age and graded for type, head and neck and body, extremities, walk, and trot. All criteria must receive a minimum of 5 out of 10 for the horse to be approved in any way.
In 1981 the first official ASVH inspection was held in North America. The Swedish Warmblood Association of North America (SWANA) was founded in the 1980’s, and today, North American bred Swedish Warmbloods are among the best representatives of the breed.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Perissodactyla
- Family: Equidae
- Genus: Equus
- Species: caballus
The Swedish Warmblood horses are wambloods and a light breed. Light horse breeds generally weigh under 1,500 pounds. They are typically used as riding horses for leisure and trail riding. Being agile and swift, many are also used on the racetrack, in the show ring, and for work on the ranch.
Light horses are grouped in a couple of different ways, one being the continent or country where they originated from. They are also grouped according to training, classified as either a stock type, hunter type, saddle type, or ‘other’. A body type is generally attributed to each class, with the ‘other’ classification being a bit of an odd ball. It includes those that are color breeds or those that may fit a body type of one of the training classes, but not be used for that type of training. In some cases the ‘other’ types can also include those that may fit into more than one of the type groups.
The horse class the Swedish Warmblood primarily fits into is the ‘hunter’ type class as it is strong in dressage, and it also has a talent for jumping as well as other disciplines.
As far back as 4000 BCE, Scandinavian settlers valued their horses as valuable companions in the fight to survive and flourish in a difficult and harsh environment. As war became an inevitable part of Swedish history, so did the development of their horses into suitable mounts for the Calvary. Because the local Swedish horses were small in stature, other breeds needed to be brought in to propagate in order to adapt the breed into more suitable warhorses.
In the early 1800’s, an organized breeding program began and a search for suitable stallions began. Europe was embroiled in the war with Napoleon, so few horses were available for resale as countries placed a priority on maintaining their own cavalry forces. Russia finally agreed to sell 200 horses to Sweden, provided they not be resold.
In a deal brokered by Clas Adam Ehrengranat, the man most responsible for the development of the Swedish Warmblood horse. Eventually, 32 stallions were sent to Flyinge and Strömsholm, two of Sweden’s royal studs. Ehrengranat, a veterinarian and former Calvary officer, introduced the idea of biomechanics into the breeding program, and his ideals of the horse stretched far beyond a working animal or a weapon of warfare. He envisioned the ideal of the modern sport horse as a dressage animal intrinsically suited for the art and sport of riding.
Beginning in 1918, the open studbook encouraged breed improvement by allowing the importation of Trakehner, Thoroughbred, Arabian, and Hanoverian stallions. The Swedish Warmblood Association, Avelsföreningen för Svenska Varmblodiga Hästen or ASVH, was formed in 1928.
The Swedish Warmblood breeders were struggling to find a market for their lighter and more elegant horse, and as their need of cavalry horses diminished, the military established rider associations dedicated to education and training of these wonderful horses. Swedish breeders could then offer trained riding horses to the general public, creating a larger market and insuring the success of the breed. Now in its fourth century of breeding riding horses, the Flyinge continues as one of the oldest, active national studs. A premiere breeding and research facility, its horses have earned international acclaim in a many equestrian disciplines.
The Swedish Warmblood are large horses, averaging around 16.3hh. They have an attractive head, a long graceful neck sitting on well muscled and sloping shoulders, a compact body, and well muscled quarters. They move with a great deal of suspension and athleticism. They can be any solid color.
Horse Care and Feeding
These large and big moving horses require ample space and exercise. If kept in a stall, they require regular turn out time to maintain their physical and mental well being. They are big eaters, and do well on grass hay, alfalfa, or other forage supplemented by 3 to 5 percent of their body weight with a medium to high protein grain when in regular work.
Horse Training and Activities
The original goal of the ASVH was to create a sport horse uniquely suited for dressage, although they are extremely competent in the other Olympic disciplines. In 1912, at the first Olympic Games, Swedish horses took home all three individual medals in Dressage. In the 1988 Seoul Games, 13 Swedish Warmbloods participated in dressage and 6 won medals.
Common Health Problems
The key to their care seems to be movement. Properly exercised and trained, they have few health complications.
Like most warmblood breeds, they are slow to mature and will continue growing until age five. They should not begin any strenuous work under saddle until at least three years of age. Leg wraps or boots and bell boots are recommended for leg protection due to their immense stride.
The Swedish Warmblood Association of North America (SWANA) maintains a section for advertised horses for sale. Prices generally begin at around $15,000.00. SWANA can be contacted through their website, www.swanaoffice.org or at PO Box 788, Socorro, NM 87801 (575).835-1318.
Corinne Clark, A Pocket Guide to Horses and Ponies , Parragon Inc., 2007
Bonnie L. Hendricks, Anthony Austen Dent , International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds, University of Oklahoma Press, (1995) 2007
Swedish Warmblood Association of North America, Socorro, New Mexico, 2003
Swedish Warmblood Zone, 2003 Author: Joan Childs