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Hanoverian horses get their name from the particular German area where they originated. The area used to be the kingdom of Hanover, but became the state of Lower Saxony. The Elector of Hanover was Gorge Louis, who became the British King George II. He never relinquished his German land when he took the British throne. In 1735, he founded a stud farm which crossed Holsteiner warmbloods with Thoroughbreds.
The breed faced extinction after the Napoleanic Wars. There were only 30 stallions left in 1816, according to The Encyclopedia of Horses and Ponies (Paragon; 2004.) Thoroughbreds were imported from England to save the breed. The resulting foals were in high demand. By 1888, the first Hanoverian Stud Book was published.
The modern Hanoverian looks different from early Hanoverians bred in the 1800s. After World War II, demand for horses dropped. The heavier, more muscled Hanoverian used for the military and under harness was crossed with specially selected Thoroughbreds, producing the sleek yet strong Hanoverian horse. The goal was to create the ultimate riding horse. Even today, the American Hanoverian Association and the German Hanoverian Verband accept Thoroughbreds or individuals of other breeds into the Hanoverian studbook, provided the mare or stallion passes strict inspections.