Visitors feel set back in the old days, when they enter Hunnesrück, close to Einbeck. This picturesque station was many years ago the summer residence of the Hildesheimer bishops and later on the Preußen military depot. Since 1921 the station in Hunnesrück is the place where the young Hanoverian stallions from the state stud Celle are brought up. After the war until 1982 there was also a herd of 50 Trakehner mares with their foals stationed in Hunnesrück. The upbringing of the stallions and a few livery horses is just a small part of the work done in Hunnesrück, which is mainly used agriculturally. 420 ha of fields are made up of sugar beet, rape seed and grains, with an additional 80 ha of green pasture for hay and haylage production and for the horses to graze on. Hunnesrück receives a lot of precipitation throughout the year therefore very little hay is made. The main bulk of the roughage feed is made up of high quality haylage.
Selection of the weanlings
In the breeding season the workers of the state stud get a good overview of the foals of that year at the stations. They report back to their manager and point out any outstanding colts. If the colts represent the Hanoverian riding horse in their type and have a good pedigree, they will be bought. In times of bad market prices, the set price that the state stud pays is a lucrative business and supports the breeding industry. Many successful stallions such as Espri or his father Eiger I spent their first years as youngsters on the wide fields in Hunnesrück. Through the own upbringing station the State Stud Celle is able to offer exceptional stallions at acceptable fees to the breeders, independent from the private stallion market.
Integration of the newcomers
Around the 10th of September approximately 45 foals move into 3 out of the 6 free stalls available in Hunnesrück. Each one wears a collar with a number to identify them by and they are stabled by in groups organized by colour. For the first weeks they wear a halter, as many of the foals are not used to them yet. 30% chestnuts, 30-40% bays and dark bays and the rest greys and blacks learn very quickly to go into the stalls by themselves together with the colts with similar colours. They don’t coordinate themselves by the colours, even if it seems that way. They orientate themselves on the stall they have been assigned to. Every day the whole herd spends their time together socialising in a big group either in the paddock or in the green pasture.
45 yearlings come at this point in September back from the pasture 400-500m high up in Soling close to Neuhaus and stay if possible in surrounding fields until December. If the weather is too bad the yearlings are stabled for 4-6 weeks in free stalls in Hunnesrück. From the middle of September the third group of horses the 2.5 year olds move into the other 3 free stalls. They are out in the fields every day and spend their nights indoors, where they receive a generous helping of additional feed to bring them up to their optimal shape fort he selection date for the 11 month stallion performance test in the middle of November. For visitors the time between the middle of September and the middle of November would be the most convenient time to visit, as all 130-140 young stallions of 3 age groups can be admired.
Now the training begins for the 2.5 year olds, which involves learning to be lead nicely and move freely in the arena, but they still remember the halter and being tied up from their time as foals in Hunnesrück. For educational purpose, the 2.5 year olds are wearing halters and are tied up at feeding time between the end of September and Christmas. This can be up to 90 animals, which makes it sound like a miracle, that only 2 people are responsible for the horses, with the help of 2 others on the weekends.
In the winter months the feed is given twice a day via a dosing feeder, which consists of a mix of pellets and oats. 1% linseed oil is mixed with the feed which reduces the dust in the feed. This feeding system has many benefits, as all horses can be fed at the same time, the work load is reduced, and the safety oft he workers is increased as they do not have to approach the horses from behind anymore. After the daily feed, the groups are let out into paddocks for the daily exercise time from 8.00 -17.00h. There they have access to haylage throughout the day in a covered area. Due to the new paddock fences, each paddock also has access to the free stall during the day. Especially the young foals like to spend their time in the free stalls when the weather is not at its best. Furthermore a winter pasture is available as well. The continuous change between the straw bedding, the paddock ground and the fields is very good for the development of the horses’ movement and body structures. Depending on the ground conditions, the horses spend their time from April/May to November/December solemnly out in the pasture.
Selection date mid November
In the middle of November the unburdened upbringing ends for the 2.5 year olds. Now the stallions which are good enough for the stallion performance test in Adelheidsdorf are selected. Around about 25 stallions are selected, the others can be purchased as riding horses as the selection date is an open event! Here you have a good chance to acquire a robust horse which has been brought up in a big herd with exceptional gaits and pedigree. Even the risk of the castration is covered by the Hunnesrück station. For the selected stallions, now 11 months of hard work towards their stallion performance test in Adelheidsdorf is starting.
Horse husbandry and care in Hunnesrück
During the time that the horses spend in Hunnesrück they have a set programme for vet checks. The vet controls the worming and vaccination of each horse and the foals must have a basic immunisation before they arrive in Hunnesrück to avoid problems. Working routines and vet appointments are coordinated so that for example all free stalls are mucked out completely 2 days after the worming took place. Injured animals that need to rest are taken out of the herd and stabled in single stalls. If the recovery time does not take too long, the horse can be integrated back into the herd without a problem. Otherwise the horse has to wait until a second one has recovered so they can be reintroduced into the herd together. This reduces stress for the animals, which is a priority in Hunnesrück. There are two set dates for the farrier to cut out the youngsters hooves, whilst the workers in Hunnesrück keep an eye on them all year around to be able to act quickly if something seems to be wrong.
The horses in Hunnesrück have a natural long mane and they keep their long fetlock hair as well. They clean themselves with the help of dust baths and of course with the help of their mates in the herd, so that the important fat coverage in the fur is maintained, as they have to endure all weathers outside.
Behaviour in the herd
Once you had the chance to watch the herds in Hunnesrück for a day, you will be amazed by the variety of behaviours that are portrayed. The young stallions can enjoy their life in the herd to the fullest. They play fight and find their strengths, whilst the next moments they are best friends grazing next to each other. They strengthen their tendons and ligaments when galloping over the pasture together and let their muscles play. In a herd with 45 horses the stallions learn quickly where they rank in the hierarchy. With the hierarchy in working order the daily life is very harmonious and a small twitch with the ear or the lifting of a hoof is enough to show the lower ranking horse who is boss. For two years the young stallions are allowed to live like real horses. In Hunnesrück the horses have an excellent upbringing which is deserved by any horse.
From the end of October one can call the manager Mr. Bertelmann under +49 (0) 5564 / 8216 to find out the date fort he selection oft he young stallions.