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sábado, 7 de julho de 2018

The Noriker or Noric horse

The Noriker or Noric horse is one of the oldest mountain draft horses in Europe, originating in the foothills of the highest Austrian mountains, Grossglockner, and being indigenous to the Central Alpine regions. Initially used for transporting a lot of goods from one place to the other, they are immensely popular in the present times because of its pleasant temperament, surefootedness, and agility.

Up to the end of the 19th century, Noriker horses were an important link in the trade between central Europe and the Adriatic. Very early in the breeding history of the Noriker horse, baroque horses also played an important role. With the establishment of the stud farm Rif, near Salzburg in 1565, the phase of the refinement by Neapolitan and Iberian stallions began, which exerted their influence on the Noriker horse until 1806. Down to the present day this influence is visible in the conformation of these horses: Roman heads with a powerful and compact topline, long manes and tails. Baroque influence is also visible in coat colours, with a large number of black horses as well as blue roans, called mohrenkopf referring directly to the Italian expression testa di moro or capo moro, meaning "dark head" or "Moor (dark) head". Besides Mohrenköpfen, the leopard spotted coat colour, named tiger (reflecting the linguistic absence of a distinction between "tiger" and "leopard" cats), is still an active breeding objective of the breed as well, which is unusual for nearly all other European horse breeds.

In 1903, the stud book was closed. Since then, Noriker horses are strictly purebred. The years between the two world wars were when the popularity of the Noriker horse peaked, and the population grew constantly. However, after the second World War, mechanisation started to take over, though in the poorer mountainous regions of Austria the machinery was not affordable, so horses in the Alps have continued to be part of everyday life until about 1968, when the Noriker horse population, then at 34,510 head, began to decline.

The late 1970s were called the crisis of horse breeding in Europe, and within about twenty years, 80% of the Noriker horses disappeared, a fact that was directly connected to the third wave of mechanisation. By 1985, only 6,996 Noriker horses survived. While today, many draught horse breeds of Europe are endangered, the Noriker has rebounded to some extent, and currently about 10,000 Noriker horses are living in the Austrian countryside. The Noriker is also bred in Italy, predominantly in the Puster Valley and the five Ladin valleys,[1] areas formerly in Austria-Hungary. Under the name Norico-Pinzgauer, it is one of the fifteen indigenous horse "breeds of limited distribution" recognised by the AIA, the Italian breeders' association, which also publishes the Italian breed standard.[3] The regional breeders' federation is the same as that for the Haflinger, the Provincial Federation of South Tyrol Haflinger Horse Breeders.

Breed development history
The baroque horses played a significant role in influencing the development of the Noriker breed. The stud farm the Rif was established in the year 1565 with which the refinement procedure of the stallions belonging to the Neapolitan and Iberian breed started. Both these breeds have had their influence on these horses (Noriker) up to the year 1806. The Roman heads, a powerful topline, long manes as well as tails, makes this influence more evident even in the present times. They also had a resemblance to the baroque horses as far as the coat colors were concerned. After the stud book for these horses had been closed in 1903, they were completely purebred. Though they were in high demand in both the World Wars, with their population continually rising, after World War II, the introduction of machines marred the need for horses. However, in the mountainous terrain it was difficult to afford the expensive machines, thus, these horses continued to be an integral part of people’s life until after which their population began to decline. Mostly because of the third wave mechanization, by the year 1985 there were only 6996 Noriker breeds left. Though most of the draft horses of Europe are getting endangered at present, there are about 10,000 of these horses dwelling in the countryside of Austria. It is bred in Italy specifically in the Puster Valley as well as the 5 Ladin valleys. The Association for Italian breeders’ AIA, recognizes it in the category of “breeds of limited distribution”, under the name of “Norico Pinzgauer.”The five sire lines influencing the development of this breed are as follows:

Vulkan-Line: This line is the most popular one with the founder stallions as well as their descendants represent the heavy draft horse kind.

Nero-Line: The Noriker stallion, 1378 Stoissen-Nero V/977, foaled in the year 1931 was a part of this line.

Diamant –Line: This line began during the first part of the 20th century, and the horses belonging to this line were agile.

Schaunitz –Line: Horses hailing from this line in the present times are small-sized along with proper movements.

Elmar-Line: The influence of the baroque horses are seen in breeds belonging to this line as most of them possess a unique coat color along with a smaller-stature and lighter build. The leopard spotted coat color is also visible.

Interesting Facts

The Noriker horse is an integral part of the Kufenstechen, a traditional festival in the Feistritz an der Gail region of Austria, where young men who are unmarried ride on the back of these horses and attempt to hit on a wooden barrel using an iron hammer.
Though historically known as the Pinzgauer they underwent a name change by the end of the nineteenth century because of the Romanophile attitude, after which they were called as Noriker horse.
The Pinzgauer High-Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle was named after this breed.

Wrote by
Yolananda Rodriguéz.