One of the most popular horse breeds and the second largest breed in Germany is the Westphalian horse. Athletic and elegant, it can be used in many areas of equestrian sports. Its gentle and reliable nature makes it a popular partner for beginners and children.

But the Westphalian also successfully shows his great potential at international tournaments. The Westphalian horse is a calm and nervous all-around talent.

Breed description

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The Westphalian horse is a German warmblood. Next to the Hanoverians, the second-largest German warmblood breed in Germany. Since the breeding of the Westphalian horse is strongly influenced by Hanoverians, it is very similar to this.

The Westphalian horse is usually a little coarser because less thoroughbred was used. The Westphalian breed is subordinate to the Westphalian studbook in Münster.

There are currently around 240 stallions and more than 8,500 broodmares in Germany. With a height of 162 cm to 175 cm, it is one of the large horses. The Westphalian horse can be found on international tournament grounds, where it achieves great success in all areas of equestrian sport.

This breed is therefore very interesting for ambitious riders who want to compete in tournaments with their competitors. The Westphalian horse is particularly successful in show jumping and dressage and always shows top performance.

Again, it is very similar to the Hanoverian. The Westphalian breed is geared towards high-performance sport but diversified. The Westphalian horse is therefore versatile.

Due to its gentle and calm demeanor, the Westphalian horse is also suitable for weaker riders and a leisurely ride. Even tall riders are well covered by the long-legged and often large-framed horse.

This horse breed is also of particular importance for the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. A soaring silver Westfalen horse is depicted in the red field of the state coat of arms.

Origin and breed history

Horses were bred in Westphalia as far back as Roman times. In addition, wild horses lived for centuries in the swampy, uncultivated regions of Westphalia.

In 1826 the Westphalian State Stud Warendorf was founded. This is where the Westphalian horse began. The Westphalian horse studbook was not created until 1904.

At the beginning, a large number of breeds were crossed, such as Oldenburg mares with Anglo-Normänner stallions. However, there were no successes because these horses were not suitable for work on the heavy soils of Westphalia.

Since the 1920s, the breeding program has been based on Hanoverian blood with Trakehner and whole blood admixtures. In the beginning, the main focus of breeding was on horses that were suitable for fieldwork or for the carriage.

After the Second World War, the demand for riding and sport horses shifted due to increasing motorization.

In addition to Hanoverians, Holsteiners, Trakehners, Anglo-Arabs, and other thoroughbreds were also used – but mainly native breeds were crossed. This is how today’s Westphalian horse slowly came into being.

The appearance of the Westphalian

The Westphalian horse is a typical sport horse, which is common in all basic colors. However, browns and foxes are far more common than blacks or molds.

Basically, it is similar to the Hanoverian, but is usually a bit coarser. The body is strong and muscular. The noble and well-proportioned head sits on a long neck.

The high withers and the muscular croup are well developed, the shoulders sloping, the chest broad and deep. The straight back and hindquarters are well muscled.

The Westphalia horse also has long and strong legs with large joints. The hooves are strong, with a very good quality of the horn.

The tail has a good approach and is now considered characteristic of the Westphalian horse when raised.

Temperament and essence

It is not without reason that the Westphalians are one of the most popular horse breeds. Her balanced temperament and her reliability illustrate her suitability as a leisure horse.

Like most warm-blooded animals, the Westphalian horse is friendly and people-oriented. It is naturally meek and adjusts to its rider, to whom it can be loyal. This makes it a good companion for riding children and beginners.

Due to its athletic body and its high level of motivation, the Westphalian horse is also a reliable sport horse, which can achieve great success.

Even an advanced rider will not get bored of this horse. Due to its calm and strong nerves, the Westphalian horse has also asserted itself as a police horse.

Husbandry and nutrition


In the past, horses were often kept in individual boxes without a run in order to have the animals quickly available. This practice is increasingly being abandoned and more and more new concepts are being developed.

The open stable, for example, should come closer to the life of horses in the wild. Scientific studies now show that 85% of illnesses can be traced back to incorrect posture and poor or insufficient exercise.

Horses are herd animals. They build up a hierarchy within their group, protect each other from danger and groom each other. The daily and extensive contact with conspecifics is therefore very important.

When choosing a stable, you should make sure that your horse has access to exercise every day and that it can live out its natural social behavior.

The open-air in the meadow is easy on the joints and offers a good supply of food. Daily training – whether it’s dressage, jumping, or a cross-country ride – also helps ensure that your horse gets enough exercise.

On the one hand, this promotes the bond between you and your animal. On the other hand, the horse is also mentally challenged and stressed.


Horses are pure herbivores and consume grasses and herbs, but also leaves, flowers, roots, shrubs, fruit, berries, and seeds. They have a small stomach, which is why they are permanent eaters.

Your digestive system is extremely susceptible to failure and is designed to constantly consume food, which takes place for up to 12 hours a day. Too long food breaks create stress in the digestive system and can cause colic.

Failure to eat properly can lead to behavioral disorders such as constant scratching, weaving (horse rocking its head and neck back and forth), or clubbing (swallowing air).

Appropriate feeding promotes appropriate tooth wear and, through a constant feeling of satiety, also promotes well-being. Daily grazing and the addition of hay are therefore very important. Oats and barley are suitable as additional feed.

If you want to gain weight, maize or maize silage is suitable. The horses get vitamins from carrots, beets, and apples. They make a good snack. Horses also like to nibble on fresh branches from fruit trees, birch, or hazelnut.

But be careful: some trees and bushes are poisonous for horses! These include yew, ivy, lily of the valley, boxwood, laburnum, potato green, rhododendron. It makes sense to give concentrated feed to sport horses with higher physical stress.

It should be given after work and divided into at least 2 servings a day. However, if your horse appears agitated or restless, it may be because the amount of concentrate is too high.

If you are unsure about the right nutrition for your horse, you can ask your veterinarian for advice. Together you can coordinate and adjust the amount of food and the composition.

Education and care

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The Westphalian horse is known to be docile, good-natured, and calm. His training should be done with empathy, patience, and consistency.

In order to train and ride a Westphalian, you should have extensive experience and riding skills.

Impatience, a lack of knowledge about horses, inconsistency, and thoughtlessness usually lead to a dead-end and frustrate both rider and horse.


Whenever possible, you should brush your horse every day both before and after work. Grooming and brushing massages the muscles and loosens them up.

So you can increase the well-being of your Westphalian with a curry comb, root brush, and grooming brush and strengthen the bond between you. You should always brush in the direction of the fur.

Sport horses that develop a long winter coat tend to sweat, especially in the transition period and in winter. Since the long coat dries slowly, sweat rugs can minimize the risk of infection or a cold.

Another option is shearing. This can prevent the horse from sweating profusely. As a rule, the region where the saddle rests, as well as the lower neck, chest, and flanks, are sheared.

The tail serves to ward off annoying insects and is at the same time heating and a means of communication. Therefore you should read it out regularly, i. H. Carefully remove grass, hay, straw, or burdock by hand and untangle any knotted areas.

Combing the mane makes the hair shine. The hooves should be scraped out daily. This gives you the opportunity to check whether the horseshoes have loosened and whether the hooves are healthy. The eyes and nostrils should also be cleaned regularly.

You can carefully wipe them off with a damp cloth without soap or other additives. The outside of the ears can be cleaned with a soft brush.

The inside of the ear cleans itself – as with humans -. When cleaning the eyes, nostrils, and ears, you should proceed calmly and gently, as these are very sensitive areas on the horse and it shows you a lot of trust.

Health and Typical Diseases

Diseases or problems typical of the breed are not known to the Westphalian horse. In spite of this, diseases such as lameness, colic, laminitis (inflammation of the hoof skin), muzzle (inflammation of the skin in the fetlock), food intolerance, or eczema can also occur.

You should therefore examine the condition of your horse daily and regularly present the animal to a veterinarian. Vaccinations and wormer cures should be on the program as well as the farrier.

By keeping horses appropriately and with appropriate feed, you can prevent or at least minimize most diseases in your horse.

The life expectancy of the Westphalia

Large horses tend to have a shorter life expectancy than ponies. On average, Westphalians reach an age of 20 years.

However, if they are kept well, they can last for more than 25 years. Life expectancy depends very much on the breed and how it is kept or cared for.

Buy Westphalian horse breed

Are you passionate about horses and would you like to buy an all-around talent? With the Westphalian horse, you can be sure that you will find a pleasant companion. Before buying, you should think about the demands you have on the horse.

The acquisition costs also depend on this. Versatility and top performance also come at a high price. A well-trained Westphalian who has already successfully mastered several tournaments will have a higher price than a leisure horse.

The age of the horse and your own riding skills also play a role in the choice of the horse and its price. A young horse that has never worn a saddle will cost less than an older, well-trained horse.

The acquisition costs can therefore vary, from $700 to several $12,000. In individual cases, very successful competition horses have been sold for amounts in the millions. But you can buy a good riding horse for a few thousand euros.

Be aware that there are additional monthly costs after the purchase: Stable rent, feed, care products, veterinarian farrier, animal insurance, saddler, and accessories. Another important aspect is the time it takes to have your own horse.

Daily exercise and caretaking a few hours a day, although there is the possibility of sharing this work with the help of a riding or care participation.

But since it is your animal, you are also responsible for it and should take care of it.

Decision support

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There are many different ways to buy horses today. There are numerous offers on the Internet, from foals to well-trained Westphalians to older horses.

Breeders as well as private individuals sell good horses. When you buy a horse you take on a great deal of responsibility for the next few years. Therefore, the choice should be well thought out.

A good seller not only offers the horse but is also interested in which hands it goes into. So don’t be surprised if he also has questions for you or is watching you closely.

How should you proceed when you have found an interesting horse? Before you actually buy your dream horse, you should take a look at the animal yourself and get an impression of its condition.

For this, of course, preparation is essential. Before doing this, however, you should take a look at how the horse behaves when grooming and saddling. The seller should ride the horse for you.

You can observe whether the horse is easy to control and whether it is concentrated and working hard. Then you should take a picture yourself and carefully try out the horse in all basic gaits.

It is very important that you do not allow yourself to be put under pressure, neither by the seller nor by your own excitement.