The birth of the Warlander breed
The Warlander breed was officially developed and named in 1990 by Karen-Maree’ Kaye, Stud Principal of the Classical Sporthorse Stud (CSS) in Perth, Western Australia.
A devotee of the Classical Art of Equitation, working in hand, under saddle and at liberty with horses, Karen-Maree’s life mission has been to develop the highest level of communication with the horse.
CSS began with a successful Friesian x Thoroughbred breeding program which resulted in producing horses for movie horse trainer – Evanne Chesson of Australian Movie Livestock as well as competition horses up to International level, The physical and mental attributes that set a high school horse apart, and the personal preference for a rounder, baroque type horse specifically suited to this discipline lead to the development of the Warlander for the stud.
“My vision of the breed a highly trainable, functional baroque horse with excellent movement; tall and round, with an uphill build, a flamboyant extended movement, the ability to collect and whose nature was more than willing and very people orientated. Importantly it was to be a riding horse, one that was comfortable for the rider.
The dream soon turned into reality as the search began for PRE females most suited to the end vision to breed with our baroque Friesian stallion and Dominador CS was born,” said Karen-Maree’.
“He surpassed our expectations, and was a product of hybrid vigour, growing a hand higher than both his parents and taking the best attributes we were looking for from both.
“Now in his late teens, Dominador CS showed we were on the right track to produce a horse with the most sensitive, funny and willing nature, whose confirmation made him a natural dancer. He is in the home of another devotee of Classical Equitation, sold soon after he was broken in as a five year old. Not long after he arrived in his new home, his owner wrote to asking if I had taught him piaffe? It would seem that he did it under saddle, naturally, without any training.
“The Warlander was created out of love and respect for both the pure Iberian Saddlehorse (Pura Raza Espanola PRE or Pure Spanish horse) and the pure Friesian, to retain the best characteristics both of these rare breeds offer, and It goes without saying that a Warlander can only be as good as the foundation it is bred from, says Karen-Maree’
A quality Iberian Saddlehorse is a light moving riding horse, highly flexible and well articulated through the hocks with a well muscled croup. It is a harmonious breed with a willing, ‘brave’ nature. Their biggest physical trait is their ability to collect and transfer their centre of gravity to their hind end.
The flamboyant moving’ Friesian brings to the plate substantial bone, a glorious front end suited to pulling, with a high set, well muscled neck plus a people orientated, docile nature.
Like to like, both breeds are highly complementary to each other’s phenotype and are natural dancers due to their exterior makeup.
Willingness and trainability is a foregone conclusion in both breeds. Anyone who has worked with them will tell you that whilst there can be good and bad examples of both breeds in type, their 'people orientated' kind, willing and placid natures are what set them apart.
The crossing of the Friesian and Iberian Saddlehorse is not new and can be traced back to Spain’s worldwide military activities between the 14th and17th centuries. Spanish customs called for mounted troops to ride stallions, never mares or geldings and due to these factors Spanish stallions were crossed with local mares in many countries including the Dutch breeds such as Friesian and Gelderland.
"The name, ‘Warlander’ is three-fold, and came from the fact that both breeds were historically ‘war’ horses and association with a veterinarian who's name was Warwick. Lander came from both breeds history in enriching and developing many of the modern day breeds we see today through out the world," says Karen.
“There is no such thing as a perfect horse, in any breed; most breeds have their weaknesses and genetic problems. This is why the CSS developed a specific breed standard within our own breeding program and the first Warlander breed standard to ensure the ‘best’ characteristics that make a Warlander were not lost and no undesirable genetic defects could emerge in the breed.
A breed criteria based on CSS's first standards was established globally by the International Warlander Society and Registry (IWSR) in the USA, to whom CSS gave permission to use the Warlander name in 2000. The only other studbook in the world sanctioned to use the Warlander name to register horses is the Bayerischer Zuchtverband für Kleinpferde- und Spezialpferderassen e.V who performed the first official testing on the breed.
The strict judging criteria of both the Pura Raza Espanola (PRE) and Lusitano (PSL) through their mother studbooks in Spain and Portugal, and KFPS and FPZV for the Friesian, ensures they must qualify for breeding privileges’ and the best pre-potent examples are recognised and awarded on their own achievements and their progeny are judged to ensure they are positively contributing to the breed. With this solid backbone, plus accessibility to frozen semen of approved horses, the Warlander has the opportunity to utilise the best in the world of both breeds in its foundation.
In general Friesians are typically recognisable in type. The Friesian horse we see today began development in 1913 and between 1945 and 1951 with the with the three main lines of the 'modern day' Friesian's limited genetic pool - Tetman 205 and the rarer lines of Ritske 202 and Age 168.
There are three types of Friesian, the Classic (Heavy), Baroque (Medium) and the newer Modern (Light) which is being encouraged by the KFPS studbook to make the Friesian more commercially viable to the dressage market.
The pure Spanish or PRE comes in several types, the Bocado (Classic or Carthusian which is a tall, round horse), the Yeguada Militar (Military breeding) plus the very successful crossing of these two lines.
The PRE is defined as a horse registered in the breed’s mother studbook in the country of origin – Spain and it full fills all the requirements for the identification of equines as established by the European Union.'
However, there are pure Spanish horses worldwide that are not registered in the Spanish Studbook, and these are accepted in breeding the Warlander as long as they are registered with a recognised body, and are DNA tested to prove they are Pure Spanish horses.
This is the case in Australia, where the Andalusian Horse Association of Australasia established a studbook in 1973 after the breed’s arrival in 1971. Horses had passed away before the Spanish bought their studbook to the country to revise the breed, and some horses were not presented. Whilst the purebred descendants of these horses are Pure Spanish, they can’t be called PRE.
The Pura Sangue Lusitano (PSL) has three main lineages of the breed, the Andrade, Veiga and Coudelaria Nacional (Portuguese State Stud) which produces the Alter Real line. Each line differs from the others by variations in the individual characteristics, but all are strictly framed within the race standards of the mother studbook, the Portuguese Puro Sangue Lusitano Breeders Association (APSL), whose purpose is to grade the Lusitano horse on its individual morphology and gaits.
All quality types of Iberian Saddlehorse’s and Friesian work well to create the Warlander, but in keeping with the Warlander’s ‘baroque’ standard, use of finer horses would need to be balanced with heavier horses to retain the bone and the best characteristics of both breeds, which goes into the fundamental exterior makeup and functionality of the Warlander.
As long as the breed characteristics of the Warlander are not lost, it is up to the personal preference of the breeder and as such, is based on the intended outcome of the progeny and the types of horses they are using in their breeding program.
The original standard as defined by CSS is a straight 50% crossing of both Iberian Saddlebred and Friesian and is the preferred option to create the Warlander in order to a balance of characteristics from both breeds, to create a comfortable, functional riding horse.
However, Warlander breeders have a wide range of choices in producing the Warlander, but the standard is firm that the Warlander must not have less than 25% of either of the base breeds (Friesian and Iberian Saddlehorse) and no other breed influence is permitted.
There are eight different combinations to breed Warlanders keeping with the 75% - 25% ratio and in the first generation either Friesian or Iberian can be used as dam or sire.
The Warlander breed is now into the third generation (2012 USA).
The Warlander must represent the best of both breeds to be truly correct. An arched, well muscled high set neck of sufficient length, depth of bone, strong flexible joints, a well muscled croup, the ability to naturally collect, the flexible poll and light, elastic movement; all which make it a powerful and comfortable riding horse.
This is what makes the Warlander a’ natural’ for advanced movements that often take other breeds years to establish. They are suited for dressage, driving and through the ‘stag like’ jumping ability of many Iberian horses, certain individuals may be suited for that discipline. They are for professional riders and amateurs alike and have the ability to be your best friend.
All of the people involved in the growth of the breed have worked hard to keep the breed ‘non elitist ‘. Whilst it financially costs as much to breed a quality Warlander as it does the Iberian Saddlehorse or Friesian, the Warlander is not a substitute for either, it is a specific animal, designed to give its owner a versatile, intelligent and kind horse with longevity of soundness and immeasurable ability.
In 2010, twenty years after the breed's official development, an enthusiast - Alexandra Green worked hard to have the Warlander recognised officially as a breed in Europe.
This important milestone in the breed’s history originated in Bavaria, the southern- most state in Germany. A new studbook for the breed now lies at that "Bayerischer Zuchtverband für Kleinpferde- und Spezialpferderassen e.V.", which registers all Pony breeds and many Specialty breeds from all around the world.
Other German Regional associations have already asked to register the Warlander within their breeding program and the importance of this for the breed is that all German Warlanders will get Paperwork according to European standards and are fully accepted as a breed by the FN.
Importantly, all Warlander foals are sighted ‘keured’ at breeding shows, and mares and stallions need to be approved for reproduction. This strict selection will guarantee a high level of quality in the future breed right from the start, as it is common practice in other breeds all over Europe in order to full fill the requirements for identification of equines as established by the European Union.
The first Warlander horse’s keured in Germany recieved a ‘first premium’ and the first Warlander stallion was presented to the commission’s strict criteria for breeding approval which he received in 2012.
The USA breeders and enthusiasts are continuing to spread all over the country, with Warlander horses shown and winning multiple titles up to national and world title level in open competition.
National titles in open competition for the Warlander horse have also been achieved in Australia. In 2009, the Warlander gelding Shepherds Hill Larry, driven by Jodie McKeone won the National Driving Championships, showing the breeds versatility for both ridden and driven work. Shepherd Hill Larry's first official event as a single was in 2011 where he came third in the Victorian Carriage/Combined Driving Championships at Inverleigh. Jodie commented that, "he really worked well through the hazards."
For the type of competition Jodie competes in, a 'brave' horse is essential and Warlander brings this necessary attribute to the plate, through the Iberian Saddlebred horse who is renown for this trait. Jodie is planning to have team of four Warlanders competing in the future.
Warlander horses are in Australia, USA, South America, Canada, Ecuador, South Africa, Germany, Sweden, France, Holland, Norway, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Holland and Austria.
The biggest achievement in the Warlander’s history so far, is the acceptance of it as a breed up to European standards, with fully accepted paperwork and sighting by a committee to either be approved if good enough, or disapproved if not suitable for further breeding.
"In Australia, the Classical Sporthorse Stud and Shepherds Hill Farm are collaborating together in a selective breeding program to produce genetically sound, ‘pure Warlander lines’ that are specifically designed to create genetic diversity for future generations.
“The global registration service for the Warlander in the USA (IWSR) was closed on September 2012 and a new Mother Studbook (Operational end of 2012) was developed named the Warlander Studbook Society. The new studbook is based in Australia (the birth home of the Warlander) and is the only organisation outside of the Bavarian Studbook legally authorised to use the WARLANDER name to register horses.
The new Warlander Studbook Society is taking the breed to a new level with strict standards and Parental Verification (DNA) testing as well as many more services for Warlander owners, breeders and perspective purchasers.
With numbers increasing in the breed world wide, the next step will be to start individual associations for each country. Over the years the studbook will adopt the standards of the European Union and have a qualified judging process that awards the examples that are close to the ideal.
"I would hope that breeders will breed for type, and not colour,” says Karen-Maree’, but they do come in a wide variety, all pertaining to the originating breeds including black, bay, chestnut, dun, all shades of grey and metallic sheens. No broken colours are permitted. Some Warlanders will have fine feathering on their legs, dependant on the Friesian genetics in their breeding.”
The breed is a horse and height is from 14.3 upwards and most are around 16 hh.
It is without doubt that by accident or on purpose the crossing of these two rare purebred horse’s is not new, but the implementation of a name, standard, a global mother studbook in Australia, and now official acceptance in Europe as a breed has cemented the Warlander as a horse that will be with us for centuries to come.