The Dutch Harness Horse: A High Stepper
(Photo compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Harness_Horse )
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”
For many centuries the Dutch (people from the Netherlands in Europe) concentrated on breeding high-stepping horses. Although farmers valued the horse as a helper and a source of income, they also considered a fancy horse a status symbol. And “fancy” is what we have with the Dutch Harness Horse.
The Dutch have a strong tradition of breeding driving horses. You might wonder what the difference is between a harness horse and a driving horse. There is no difference. The term “in harness” often describes a horse being driven. A horse harness is a type of tack with a breast collar that allows a horse to pull heavy vehicles such as carriages, wagons, or sleighs. The Dutch Harness Horse is noted for pulling lighter, fancier carriages in international competition. But where did he get his start?
During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the warm-blooded Dutch Harness Horses were known as “luxury horses.” The first studbook in The Netherlands was founded in 1879, which started classifying them as a recognizable breed. It eventually emerged from two separate equines in the Netherlands. One breed, the northern Groningen, was heavier and had dark coats. The Gelderlander from southern Netherlands was taller and leggier and chestnut in color. Although the resulting horses were stout and could work on farms, they were also elegant with a high step to pull fancy carriages. Owners continued to improve their horses by breeding the best mares to the best trotting stallions. The result? The more streamlined and fancier “Sunday horses” became a separate line from the stronger working horses.
Because of those horses’ classy development, their owners started competing to see whose equine was the showiest. When machines made farm horses unnecessary, the higher-steppers were bred for driving competition. Thus, by 1969, the Dutch Harness Horse became so popular, The Royal Warmblood Horse Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN) was founded to preserve the breed.
As recent as the late 20th Century, more crossbreeding with Hackneys and Standardbreds resulted in a harness horse with stunning beauty and a natural high step. Today, although only 40 sires and fewer than 2,000 broodmares are registered, the Dutch Harness Horses are very easy to spot. In the past few years, a few have come to North America and have been crossbred with Arabians, where they are used as sport horses and saddle seat horses. Regardless of how they’re shown, their fancy trot separates them from most other breeds. And there’s a reason why.
The Dutch Harness Horse is unique in that he has strict rules when showing, and it has to do with his feet. The shoes must be within a certain width and thickness, and pads added to the hoof are prohibited. He’s then able to step “to the high heavens” on his own, not because of special shoeing.
Besides his high stepping, the Dutch Harness Horse would have a braided mane and a natural tail in competition. He’d be decked with gorgeous tack, often wearing a white bridle with a cavesson (a noseband) that might match a white carriage. His coat colors can be chestnut, bay, brown, or black. However, he might be gray, a shade of roan, or a creme color. A tobiano paint Dutch Harness Horse surfaces occasionally, but he’d be rare. Regardless of the appearance of this beautiful horse, one fact is certain. He’s proud to be high stepping for the one controlling his reins.
As the steps of a Dutch Harness Horse are in the hands of his driver, so are our steps in the hands of our Driver. Have you ever thought about your life and how each and every detail is planned by our Amazing God?
The Bible tells us that God has a plan for every Christian, and the Lord directs every step in the life of a believer who trusts in God’s wisdom.
Do you pray and ask God for wisdom and for Him to direct your steps? If you have, then God directs your steps through those older and wiser such as a parent, a pastor, or a teacher. Obeying those people will make you a “high-stepper,” allowing the Lord to direct your steps throughout your entire life.
PRAYER: Dear God, I trust you with my life, and I want you to plan my steps. I’m willing to serve you in whatever you ask me to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)
What do you think might be some “good” steps a young Christian should take in his life? Be determined to take those steps in your Christian walk with Jesus.
Take your ride: (Do you know?) Branding horses is now illegal in the Netherlands, so the red-lion-standing-on-his-hind-legs brand of the KWPN is found on the left thigh of only older horses. Today, KWPN horses are microchipped instead.
Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21 NKJV).
LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS.
GO TO https://amzn.to/2Lgypvm