one of the finest Friesian stables in Texas, Proud Meadows, we found the Schwarzwaelder
Fuchs also known as the Black Forest Horse. This breed is very rare indeed;
there are only approximately 1,500 in the world, 8 of those in the United States:
1 in California, 5 at the Black Forest Stables in Maple Valley, Washington and
2 in Texas. The Texas twosome both reside outside of Waxahachie, Texas and are
owned by Larry Riggs, co-owner of Proud Meadows.
The Black Forest Horse (much easier to type and pronounce than Schwarzwaelder Fuchs), are bred almost exclusively in the Black Forest in southern Germany. In German, they are known as the Schwarzwaelder Kaltblut (Coldblood or Draft Horse), or the Schwarzwaelder Fuchs (fuchs = fox, due to their consistent chestnut coloring).
The breed dates as bar back as 600 years and for many years this breed was used exclusively for forestry work. The breed’s soundness, durability, strength and gentle nature were perfect for the steep farmlands in the Black Forest. Their strong legs and durable feet were necessary to haul logs over the rugged and uneven terrain.
As machinery began to overtake the use of workhorses, the Black Forest horse became endangered. In 1981, there were only 160 registered broodmares. During this time, the German government stepped in to help protect and promote the breed. Close attention was paid to assure proper breeding for the best conformation of the horses. Vigorous performance testing was implemented to assure that only the best breeding stock of stallions and mares would be used to maintain and enhance the marvelous qualities of this breed. Many of the crowned stallions now stand at the Haupt und Landesgestuet Marbach, the state stud farm in Baden-Wuerttemberg, while others stand at private stud farms through the various regions of Germany.
Eventually these horses began to be used for more than just fieldwork. Today they handsomely pull wedding carriages, carry any size rider easily through varied terrain, and their gentle nature has earned them a well-deserved role in aiding children in therapeutic riding facilities. As their fan base has grown, the numbers of Black Forest horses is once again on the rise. Today, there are 50 crowned stallions within Germany, and approximately 750 registered Black Forest mares, along with many geldings. While still considered endangered, their growth in number & popularity has all but guaranteed they will now survive.
The Black Forest breed is so rare that it can hardly even be found in the largest, most extensive books of horse breeds. If it is found, it is with a small line of text typically under the “Noriker” draft breed found in Austria.
In descriptions, one tends to easily say that the Black Forest horse is “in between Haflingers and Belgians”, due to their size and color, although they are not directly related to either. Their average 15 hand size, a size rarely found in a true draft horse, makes the horse the perfect all-around horse. The average height for the Black Forest horse is 14.2 to 16 hands and they weigh approximately 1,250 to 1,400 pounds. Their color is consistently medium to dark chestnut with blonde/flaxen mane and tail.
There are 6 main bloodlines of the Black Forest Horse – the oldest are the D- and M- lines, followed by the R- and W- lines. Most recently, the F- line was created with the addition of the Freiberger blood and the V- line with the addition of the Schlewiger blood. This was necessary to avoid the closer inbreeding when the breed became endangered.
The D-, M- and R- lines tend to be somewhat smaller and more compact (14.2 to 15.2 hands), while the W-, F- and V- lines carry more size and stature (15-16 hands).
The first Black Forest Horse imported to the United States was Ramona of Black Forest Stables in Maple Valley, Washington. Ramona was born in 1997 and was imported in 2001, after being bred to one of the top state stallions, Montan.
Ramona stands at 15 hands and with her size and stability is an amazing trail horse for the rugged trails in the Washington Cascades.
Ramona gave birth to a gorgeous stud colt, Montanara, in March 2002. Montanara has the unique distinction of being the first Black Forest horse born in the United States.
Black Forest Stables imported another mare, Wendy, in 2003, welcomed her stud colt in 2004, and just last month imported their latest mare, Waleska. Wendy and Waleska are full sisters and are a perfectly matched driving team.
Larry Riggs’ stallion Rondo stands at 14.1 and his almost white mane and tail is rare and is a stunning contrast to his dark chestnut body.
“Rondo is phenomenal,” said Riggs. “He’s calm, gentle, graceful and breathtakingly handsome.”
Many visitors to the Equine Expo of Texas agreed with Riggs, Rondo has a new fan club of admirers from the Expo. There were always people at Rondo’s stall admiring and asking questions. Riggs also owns a cute 2-year-old filly named Porta who is also a dark chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
Not only did the spectators at the Equine Expo get to get up close and personal, Rondo was stunning harnessed to a beautiful cart provided by Carriage USA. Rondo was one of the most popular horses at the Expo.
Pieter Franken of Carriage USA owns a Schwarzwaelder Fuchs gelding in Solvang, California. For information about Carriage USA or importing a Black Forest Horse, you can call 714-688-1312 or you can visit: www.carriageusa.com.
You can also contact Ursula Sivitilli of Black Forest Stables USA at www.blackforesthorse.com or by calling 425-413-9441.
In Texas you can call Larry Riggs at Proud Meadows in Waxahachie, Texas by calling 972-938-8100 or by visiting: www.proudmeadows.com.
Rondo will be standing to the public in 2006. Due to the near-complete absence of purebred Schwarzwaelder in North America, Rondo is available for crossbreeding.
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