The Oldenburg is one of the older European breeds that originated as a carriage horse and has gradually, over generations of breeding, been streamlined and refined into one of the premier show jumping and dressage horses on the international scene. The Oldenburg has also served in military campaigns, as royal coach horses and even as artillery horses in the wars. This diversity and the many abilities of the Oldenburg have formed the basis for including the breed in many of the European warm blood breeds as well as sport horse breeds that are now popular in most types of competitions and events.
The Oldenburg itself is a breed that has been selectively crossed with many other breeds to create the ideal large, competitive type horse. The first ancestors of the Oldenburg were the Friesians with crosses into the Iberian or Spanish breeds as well as the Arabian. The Barb as well as the Neapolitan horse were also involved in the early breeding programs for the Oldenburg. The Friesians and Iberian horses provided the size and structure for the breed and the Arabians added the agility and refinement. In the 19th century the Thoroughbred was also added to the breeding program to add size and leg length to the Oldenburg. Hanoverians, Cleveland Bays, and Yorkshire Coach Horses were also important in developing the overall athletic ability, temperament, and work ethic of the Oldenburg.
These traits were carefully developed through highly selective breeding. The Oldenburg, in turn, has been used to enhance, refine, and improve the characteristics of many of the newer breeds of horses developed in Europe and North America. The Oldenburg has been used in many different warm blood breeding programs, especially those in state run studs that are developed to enhance the performance level of the various breeds. The Dutch Warmblood as well as the Frederiksborg, bred in Denmark, have been strongly influenced by the Oldenburg breed. The Frederiksborg is not a true competition type warmblood but has many of the warmblood characteristics and is considered an excellent all round riding horse as well as a good general farm horse, capable of light draft work and driving.
It is interesting to note that the Friesian, one of the founding stocks of the Oldenburg breed, has also been recently bred back with the Oldenburg stock to improve the lines. The Friesian had remained a heavier horse that was no longer as popular, but with the infusion of the Oldenburg breed is gaining popularity as a beautiful, competitive horse in dressage and show jumping. The Oldenburg blood has refined the Friesian breed as well as increased their versatility as performance horses.
The Gelderlander horse, bred in the Netherlands, has also benefited from breeding with the Oldenburg lines. The Gelderlander is one of the first warmbloods, but was heavier than modern warmbloods and was more traditionally used as a farm horse and carriage horse. With the addition of the Oldenburg lines the breed has become more popular as a general riding horse as well as a competition horse. The impact of the Oldenburg on several breeds is well documented and it is likely that the Oldenburg will continue to be used in the development and refinement of competition horses in the future.