The Nonius: The Ideal Horse for a Safe Ride!
To see a photo of this horse breed, go to
“The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord.”
The Nonius (Nó ni usz) from the country of Hungary has his roots with Arabian and Turkish horses going back as far as the 16th Century. During the 18th Century, the Hungarian kings decided to crossbreed their horses with stallions from Spain and Portugal, which led to a handsome horse with a thick arched neck, a large but elegant head, and a short back. Because the aristocrats demanded a beautiful yet limber steed, in 1784, the State Stud of the Hungarian Royal and Imperial Court in the southeastern town of Mezőhegyes was founded to develop a strong yet beautiful breed.
At that time, history records that Hungary had about 1.5 million horses, 10,000 to 15,000 of them working in the cavalry every year. Although the kings and aristocrats wanted quick riding horses for their military, the common people looked for reliable mounts for hunting and for elegant horses to drive carriages. Those demands led to the development of three different breeds: the Gidrán, the Furioso-North Star, and the Nonius.
You might think the name “Nonius” is a strange name for a breed of horses. The Nonius is a breed named after Nonius, the Anglo-Norman foundation sire. He was born in 1810 in Calvados, Normandy, in France. His sire was named Orion, and, while sources differ on his breeding, he was either a Thoroughbred, a Norfolk Trotter, or a combination of the two.
Even as a foal, Nonius was considered ugly. Even today the breed is known for the heavy head with a convex profile called a Roman nose. He’s generally dark in color, most of the breed being black, dark bay or brown, either unmarked lightly marked with white. He’s muscular and heavy-boned, similar to other light draft and driving horses and stands between 15.1 to 16.1 hands.
During the 20th Century, the Nonius became a farm horse. Sadly, as with so many beautiful horses in the 1930s and 40s, World War II significantly reduced the breed. It’s believed there were only 50 mares left at that time. And for a few decades after the war, the lack of use for horses in Hungary sent many to the slaughterhouse.
The Nonius exhibits traits common to heavy-boned driving and light draft horses: a powerful and arched neck, broad and muscular back, and deep, sloping hindquarters. Although he’s one of the heaviest warmblood driving horses, he’s known for a kind, even temperament and eagerness to work in harness and under saddle. An extra bonus with this breed is he’s easy to keep.
The number of Nonius horses today is believed to be at about 450 mares and 80 stallions. The largest population is still found in the town of Mezőhegyes, Hungary, with other small herds in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Serbian province of Vojvodina. Regardless of where you find a Nonius, you can make certain, he’s been well-trained and prepared to serve over the years and will give a safe, enjoyable, and exciting ride.
How about you? Are you “well-trained” and prepared to serve the Lord every day? Do you get up with a smile on your face and a desire to do right? If you know the Lord Jesus as your Savior, He’s ready to help you as you read your Bible and pray. Then you’ll certainly be prepared to face each new day and the challenges it brings.
PRAYER: Dear God, I ask that you’ll help me be prepared for each new day by reading the Bible and praying. I know I can be “safe” with you as my guide. In Jesus’ name, amen.
SADDLE UP! (What would God have you do now?)
What distracts you from reading your Bible and praying? Determine to set aside a special time each day to meet with God during your devotions.
Take your ride: (Do you know?) Today the Nonius is bred by horse lovers passionate about preserving the breed and is used for farming, trail riding, and competitive driving sports.
Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually” (Psalm 119:117 NKJV).
Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her champion show horse, Champ,
and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!