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The Noriker horse is a breed of draft horse that has made a name for itself for being a horse of stamina and toughness. They get their name from the ancient Roman Empire province of Noricum, which is where modern Austria is today. The Romans constructed a system of roadways throughout Noricum and as well as left behind artifacts of horses that resemble the present day Noriker. These horses were used as pack animals and to pull a variation of carts and other animals. They were the ideal horses because they could assist the farmers that worked in the high pastures. They were well known for being sure-footed and capable of pulling large loads over a great distance. (In fact, today, in order for a Noriker to be registered with the association, the horse must pass a variety of tests to measure its strength and speed.)
The Noriker is a native horse of Austria and have been bred there for thousands of years in their mountainous regions. Today, besides being found in their homeland, they can also be found in Italy, the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslavia, and in Germany where it is known as the South German Cold blood. These were considered different strains, which involved Bavarian blood, and are found in upper and lower Bavaria.
There are actually various color lines that trace back to Andalusian and Neapolitan horses; they have had the biggest influence on the breed that exists today including the dappled and brindled coloring. Though the breed didn't have an official breeding program until the recent years, they had their first studbook opened more than four hundred years ago. This was done by Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg; it was because of him that the standards and regulations were set up for mares and stallions as well as the stud farms. Because of the horse's strength and endurance, it is the ideal horse for the mountainous trails.
When the Noriker is selected to take part as a stud in service, it must complete a test that evaluates its speed and strength. The test involves pulling a variation of heavy loads across a distance of five hundred meters in particular amount of time. Some mares of today are being put through the same kind of testing. As far as coloring goes, to be a part of the registration the horse can't have any sort of white marking anywhere on its body. Horses that displayed different color variations and patterns were accepted and liked in the breed, up until the turn of the 20th century.
At one point there was a heavier alpine Noriker horse type; it made the ideal horse for carriages, riding, and work horses for knights, farmers, and merchants of the Middle Ages. These horses came about due to horses being raised in a constantly changing climate, landscape, ground, and performing different tasks on farms.
Today's breeding of the Noriker was based on five distinct bloodlines; they are the Volcano, Nero, Diamand, Schaunitz, and Elmar. The goal was produce a heavier set horse, but not too large. Rather it was to be a low set sturdy work horse.
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