Black Forest Horse

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Black Forest Horse
two dark horses with pale manes pulling a sled carrying a family
Conservation status
Other names
  • German: Schwarzwälder Kaltblut
  • German: Schwarzwälder Fuchs
  • German: St. Märgener Fuchs
  • Black Forest Coldblood
Country of originGermany
  • 500–600 kg[3]: 194 
  • Male:
    150–160 cm[4]: 32 
  • Female:
    148–156 cm[3]: 194 
Breed standards
Stallion at the Haupt- und Landgestüt Marbach

The Black Forest Horse (German: Schwarzwälder Kaltblut) is an endangered German breed of light draft horse from the Black Forest of southern Germany.[5]: 444 


Driven four-in-hand at Bernhausen in 2014

Horse breeding in the Black Forest – in what is now Baden-Württemberg – is documented from the early fifteenth century in the records of the Abbey of Saint Peter in the Black Forest.[6] A type of heavy horse, the Wälderpferd, was used for forestry and farm work;[5]: 444  it is conjectured that the Black Forest Horse derives from it.[7] The main area of breeding lay between the northern Hotzenwald to the south and the Kinzigtal to the north. Breeding was concentrated round the monasteries of St. Peter and of St. Märgen; for this reason it was formerly known as the St. Märgener Fuchs.[6]

A breed association, the Schwarzwälder Pferdezuchtgenossenschaft, was started in Sankt Märgen in 1896,[5]: 444 [8] and a stud-book was begun in the same year.[7] In 1935, in the Nazi period, it was merged into the general stud-book for Baden. This was restarted after the War, in 1947, under the French administration. The Schwarzwälder Pferdezuchtgenossenschaft was re-founded in the 1990s.[6]

After the end of the Second World War, there were more than 1200 breeding mares registered. With the mechanisation of agriculture and of transport, demand for working horses fell rapidly, and by 1977 the number of mares had fallen below 160.[9]: 4  In 2007 its conservation status was reported by the FAO as "endangered".[1]: 50  In 2017 a population of 88 stallions and 1077 mares was reported;[10] in 2019 the breed was listed by the Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen in its category III, gefährdet, "endangered".[2]

A number of stallions stand at stud at Marbach Stud, where artificial insemination is also available.[6]


The Black Forest Horse is always chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail; no other color may be registered.[11] The coat varies from pale to very dark, sometimes almost black; this, with a pale or silvery mane, is the coloring called in German Dunkelfuchs, "dark fox". Intentional selection for flaxen chestnut coloring began in 1875.[2] In a study of 250 horses of the breed published in 2013, two were found to carry silver genes, but because they were chestnut, the silver was not expressed; it was thought to have been introduced by outcrossing to some other breed in the past.[12]

The Black Forest Horse is a draft horse of light to medium weight, well muscled and with a short and powerful neck. The head is short and dry, the shoulders sloped, and the croup broad and muscular. The legs are clean, without feathering, and the hooves broad and strong.[6][2]


The Black Forest Horse was originally bred for work in agriculture and forestry; it is now used in harness and, more and more often, as a riding horse.[5]: 444 


  1. ^ a b Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Die Rote Liste der bedrohten Nutztierrassen in Deutschland (in German). Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen. Archived 1 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b Élise Rousseau, Yann Le Bris, Teresa Lavender Fagan (2017). Horses of the World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691167206.
  4. ^ [s.n.] (2010). Rote Liste der gefährdeten einheimischen Nutztierrassen in Deutschland: Ausgabe 2010 (in German). Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung. Archived 28 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  6. ^ a b c d e Wolf Brodauf (1995). Schwerpunkt - Pferde: Das Schwarzwälder Kaltblutpferd (in German). Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen. Archived 14 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b Maarit Müller-Unterberg, Sandra Wallmann, Ottmar Distl (2017). Effects of inbreeding and other systematic effects on fertility of Black Forest Draught horses in Germany. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 59 (1): 70. doi:10.1186/s13028-017-0338-4
  8. ^ Breed description: Black Forest. Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. Archived 14 October 2007.
  9. ^ Manfred Weber (2010). Betreuung von einheimischen vom Aussterben bedrohter Rassen dargestellt am Beispiel der Schwarzwälder Füchse in Baden-Württemberg (in German). St. Märgen: Schwarzwälder Pferdezuchtgenossenschaft. Accessed May 2019.
  10. ^ Rassebeschreibung Pferd: Schwarzwälder Kaltblut (in German). Zentrale Dokumentation Tiergenetischer Ressourcen in Deutschland (TGRDEU). Accessed May 2019.
  11. ^ English Site. Haupt- und Landgestüt Marbach. Archived 9 February 2012.
  12. ^ S. Momke, R. Schrimpf, C. Dierks, O. Distl (2013). Incidence of Mutation for Silver Coat Color in Black Forest Horses. Iranian Journal of Applied Animal Science 3 (4): 859–861.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas Armbruster, Wolf Brodauf, Gerhard Schröder (2007–2013). Schwarzwälder Kaltblut - Geschichte und Geschichten (3 volumes, in German). Freiburg: Schillinger-Verlag.