Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Horse of a Not-So-Different Color: The Hanoverian Blacks (5 of 6)

          The Hanoverian Blacks were apparently as uninteresting during their time as they are to enthusiasts today. There are few mentions of them, aside from the fact that they were the “horses used by the Master of the Horse on state occasions,” and few paintings.[1] Coronation accounts marvel at the beauty of the Hanoverian Creams (always pulling the new monarchs coach) and the Hanoverian Whites (usually pulling the Prince’s coach), but barely mention the Hanoverian Blacks (usually pulling the coach with invited dignitaries, and the Master of the Horse if he is not sitting with the monarch). The Creams and Whites do have “English” horses (i.e., thoroughbreds) as outriders, where the blacks have their own kind as outriders. Any additional coaches are pulled by “bays” that receive even less mention, though in England they are likely of primarily Yorkshire stock (now the Cleveland Bay). The only place the Blacks receive much mention is during the Napoleonic Wars, where they were used instead of the Creams because of Napoleon’s capture of the Creams remaining on the continent. They do make an interesting study alongside the Creams, as they are consistently shown with flat profiles, wide foreheads, eyes that are prominent but do not break the plane of the face, and, when in motion, significant action.[2] It is entirely likely that they are a close relative to the modern Friesian, particularly as most commonly black horses in Europe stem from similar stock.[3] Mathew Hayes’ 1904 treatise on breeds says that Hanover also provides the black “drenthe” horses for funerals, and that these horses were originally from the province of the same name (which, incidentally, is a neighbor to Friesland. Hayes refers to it as German, but it is Dutch). It is unclear if these are the same black Hanoverian horses, as all sources that discuss them cite Hayes. The Hanoverian horses, in all their colors, were used for ‘coronations, weddings, and funerals,’ so it is plausible. A 1912 book says simply that “The black Drenthe horses employed at royal funerals are another Hanoverian breed,” at the end of a section discussing the Creams.[4]

[1] The New Sporting Magazine, 375
[2] “action” refers to the lift of the legs, particularly the front legs in trot.
[3] Most English breeds are predominantly brown or bay, which modifies the expression of black pigment. 
[4] Lydekker, 129

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