With renewed interest in the War Horse, the story of the Trakehner should be remembered.
The royal stud farm Trakehnen was founded in 1732 in East Prussia and dedicated to breeding the ideal cavalry mount — a fast, light horse that also had no problem pulling a plough.
During World War I, the population of the Trakehner horse was cut in half. After the Russian Army invaded East Prussia, the Trakehnen stud was evacuated, with most of the horses lost to the Russians. Private breeders and their horses were finally allowed to leave in January of 1945.
In that unforgiving winter, the “Trek” of the Trakehner began.
People and horses braved a march that covered 600 miles and took two and a half months. Of the original 800 horses who began the Trek, less than 100 survived. From the main stud, only twenty one mares survived among an estimated total of 100 horses from the stud.
Due to the dedication of a handful of breeders, the Trakehner breed was resurrected from the few that remained of the original 80,000 horses of East Prussia.
Thoroughbreds and Arabians are now allowed into the otherwise closed studbook, contributing stamina and sensitivity to this noble breed, beloved for the strength of its heart and spirit.
Great story! It’s easy to forget how big a toll the World Wars took on horses. Has a book been published about their trek?
I don’t know. Good question.
Question answered! I just received a comment from a fellow horse blogger about a book written on the topic, and read her wonderful blog post about it. See Joy’s comment on the “Book” link at the top of my blog.