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All About The Noriker Horse Breed

by Modi Ramos

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All horses are beautiful in my opinion. But there are some horse breeds that really catch our eyes. While beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, the Noriker horse breed is eye-catching by anyone’s standards. The Noriker horse, also called the Norico-Pinzgauer and historically known as the Pinzgauer horse, is a moderately heavy draft horse breed out of Austria.

Want to learn more about these beautiful Austrian draft horses? Read about the Noriker horse here on iHeartHorses.com.

By Paula Jantunen – Own work, Public Domain

A Beloved Horse Breed With a Rich History

The Noriker horse gets its name from the Roman province of Noricum, which is roughly equivalent to present-day Austria. These horses are typically found in the Austrian alps, living in elevations as high as 6,000 feet. They are extremely hardy horses that can withstand the elements with ease. Living in these conditions is something they’ve done since they were first bred, and they thrive here. True to the cold-blooded draft breeds of horses, they are calm and peaceful. They can come in a few shades, such as appaloosa, bay, chestnut, black, and roan. In terms of size, they are typically 16 to 17 hh at the withers.

Oklahoma State University’s Department of Animal Science shares some interesting details about this old breed of horse:

“Archeological sites dating back to around 600 BC provide evidence that Celts in the alpine region owned horses, in some cases even spotted horses. After the province ‘Noricum’  was founded by the Romans on the territory of modern-day Austria, heavy breed Roman draught horses were introduced to Central Europe at the time of Christ’s birth, giving rise to a new breed of horse.” 

noriker horse

The Noriker Horse is a Large but Sporty Horse Breed

These horses have been found in the Alpine region and Austrian foothills for over 2,000 years. Four hundred years ago, breeding became regulated for the Noriker horse breed. The Norikers were crossed with other larger European horses to increase their size. And they were also crossed with Spanish horses to refine their breed. These are strong and good-natured horses that can be used for various purposes, from farm work to equine sport.

Due to their size, strength, and reliable temperament, they are a favorite horse breed for sleigh racing. Norikers are known not only for their size and beauty, but for their surefootedness and strong limbs, too. Their size and agility also make them an ideal choice for alpine forest work where machinery might be difficult to maneuver. 

Noriker horse

Those Lovely Spots can be Traced Back

Due to the crossing of breeds to preserve the Noriker, this is likely what resulted in their eye-catching spots. The bloodlines of the Noriker, which is also referred to as Noric, can be traced back to five specific horses: Volcano, Nero, Diamant, Schaunitz, and Elmar.

Austrian researchers decided to take a closer look at this breed of horse which is known for possessing the leopard complex gene, similar to the Appaloosa and the Knabstrupper. They found that the base coat coloring and the sex of the horse were key factors in determining spots. In terms of sex, males might produce more spots or larger spots as this has been a preference of the breed over time. Bay, black, and chestnut make up about 90 percent of the Noric horses today, with only 10 percent being leopards and roans.

If you’d like to read the study in its entirety, you can do so here

Did you learn anything new and interesting about our equine friends? Share this article with other horse lovers you know so they can learn something, too.

Noriker horse


noriker horse

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