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 baroque horses, Karen-Maree’s life mission has been to develop the highest level of communication with her beloved horses.
CSS began with a successful Friesian crossbred 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 breed 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 had to be a comfortable riding horse.
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 horse breeds and the purebred Friesian - to retain the best characteristics in one package. 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 horse 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.
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, their 'people orientated' kind, willing and placid natures are what set them apart.
"The name, ‘Warlander’ came from Karen-Maree's association with veterinarian Dr Warwick Vale. This is where 'war' came from.
“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 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 in the future.
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 strict judging criteria of 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. 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.
Most (but not all) Iberian and Friesian horses work well to create the Warlander, but in keeping with the Warlander horses ‘baroque’ type, use of finer horses needs to be balanced with heavier horses to retain the bone.
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 and Friesian with the preference of the Iberian being the dam. This is the stud's preferred option to create a F1 Warlander.
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) and no other breed influence is permitted.
There are eight different combinations to breed Warlander horses keeping within the 75% - 25% ratio.
Where this breed is unique is that it is correct in its first generation (Friesian to Iberian or vice versa) when hybrid vigour occurs that usually results in the F1 Warlander being bigger than its parents. The 'ideal' 50/50% ratio can only happen again when two 50/50% Warlander horses are bred together. To create a second generation Warlander with a 50/50% ratio relies on great breeding knowledge and a complete understanding of the bloodlines involved (genetics) in order to keep the type (breed standard) and avoid Genetic Atavism.
The Warlander breed reached third generation breeding’s in 2012 and there have been no reports of any loss of type or height.
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 or Friesian, the Warlander is not a substitute for either, it is a specific animal, designed to give its owner a versatile, intelligent horse with an outstanding temperament.
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 with the "Bayerischer Zuchtverband für Kleinpferde- und Spezialpferderassen e.V.", who 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 studbooks and the importance of this for the breed is that all German Warlander horses receive Paperwork according to European standards and are accepted as a breed by the FN.
Importantly, all Warlander foals are ‘keured’ at breeding shows, and mares and stallions need to be approved for reproduction. This strict selection will guarantee a high level of quality for the future of the breed.
The first Warlander horse’s keured in Germany received a ‘first premium’ and the first Warlander stallion was presented to the commission’s strict criteria for breeding approval - which he received in 2012.
National titles in open competition for the Warlander horse have been achieved in Australia. In 2010, the Warlander gelding Shepherds Hill Larry, driven by Jodie McKeone won a National Driving Championships (World Cup). He was later to go on and receive the first 'SPORT' predicate for a Warlander horse globally.
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 horse that is renowned for this trait.
Worldwide, the Warlander horse has shown versatility from High School Dressage, Driving, Reining (showing they retain their 'cow sense'), movies and commercial work, Saddle Seat, In hand Showing and Medieval activities such as jousting.
Warlander horses are in Australia, USA, South America, Canada, Ecuador, South Africa, Germany, Sweden, France, Holland, Norway, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Holland, Austria, Spain and Israel.
The biggest achievement in the Warlander horse’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, 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 named the Warlander Studbook Society (WSS) started operation immediately and took over the registrations of the previous studbook. WSS is based in Australia (the birth home of the Warlander) and registers Warlander horses world-wide. It is the only organisation outside of the Bavarian Studbook legally authorised to use the WARLANDER name to register horses.
"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, buckskin, all shades of grey and dilutes. No broken colours are permitted. Some Warlander horses 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 with the preference they do not exceed 16.2hh.
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.