Use and characteristics of the German Trotter
The German Trotter draws its characteristics from foundation stock created in various countries. They generally stand between 15.1 hands (61 inches/155 cm) and 16.2 hands high (66 inches/168 cm). Bay predominates as a colour, as it does in many sports horse breeds and types. Many enthusiasts choose to buy a German Trotter that specialises over a particular distance, the shortest tracks offering an 800 m circuit and the longest 1,200 m. Most breeders who raise and sell a German Trotter produce trotters with middle distance races in mind.
Origin and history of breeding German Trotters
The studbook for German Trotters is over 120 years old, having been established in 1896. The foundation stock for the German Trotter came from American, French and Russian Trotters. The American Standardbred has been particularly influential, and it, in turn, was influenced by the famous imported Thoroughbred, Messenger. Trotting races have always had an enthusiastic following. German Trotters are registered with the Deutsches Trabergestütbuch (German Trotter Studbook), which is maintained by the breeders’ association, the Hauptverband für Traberzucht und Rennen, or H.V.T. In order to be registered, a Trotter must be the offspring of both a registered sire and dam or an imported horse recognised by the H.V.T. Federation. There are believed to be some 10,000 trotters in Germany, proving the popularity of the breed and the sport. There are ridden trotting races as well as harness races. While they are best suited for racing, some German Trotters make the transition to riding horses, especially at the end of their careers on the track.
German Trotters in equestrianism
Trotters, as the name suggests, are horses bred to focus on one particular gait, trotting, at speed. These are the fastest horses in harness in the world, and their fitness and breed standards are rigorously managed and recorded. Drivers can be amateurs or professionals, and annual recognition for individual professionals is marked by being awarded a bronze, silver or gold helmet, which drivers can wear the following season. Drivers and jockeys are licensed. As with racehorses, there are opportunities for sprinters over short distances (approx. 1,600 m to 1,750 m), with middle distance races (approx. 1,900 m to 2,100 m) making up the majority of events and longer distances for stayers (approx. 2,500 m to 2,600 m).
Trotter Racetracks in Germany
Germany has numerous harness racing tracks, among which the Trabrennbahn Berlin-Mariendorf ranks very highly. Over 650 races take place each year in this beautiful location with its Art Nouveau Grandstand. Visitors can also view the half-timbered blocks where over 800 horses can be stabled for events. This is the location of Germany’s prestige harness racing event, the 8-day Derby Week, the origins of which date back to the nineteenth century. The Derby itself is for 3-year old horses, with a separate race for mares. The Gelsenkirchen track, known as GelsenTrabPark, was constructed in 1912 and is the largest dedicated harness racing park in Germany, with one of the longest tracks 1,200 metres long.