We all recognize the Trakehner as a world class horse. They have excelled in the hunter/jumper
and dressage ring as well in various other equestrian pursuits and made numerous appearances at the Olympics for years. They have also played influence in developing more modern types of warmbloods such as Canadian and American warmbloods. So it’s hard to believe such an elegant and versatile breed was nearly lost during World War II.
Trakehners were first bred and developed in Trakehnen, East Prussia (now Poland). They even had a stud farm exclusive for their breeding called the Trakehnen Stud. However, in October of 1944, the Soviets were closing in and the farm received an urgent message to evacuate the horses and move them to safety farther west. Sadly they never made it. The Soviet army eventually overtook them and the breed and its documentation were lost.
The Trakehners that we know today are descendants of privately bred stock. The people of East Prussia fled with over 800 of their mares and stallions. The journey was named The Trek and consisted of nearly three months of travel covering nearly 600 miles. Food was scare. Most of the horses became ill and died or went lame and were left behind for the Soviets to collect.
When safety was finally reached, less than 100 horses were left. In an effort to save the breed, the next decade was spent in a successful attempt to re-establish the breed. Since then, the Trakehner has spread to all over the world, dominating many equine sports, especially in dressage and jumping. Thank goodness for the compassion and love the people of East Prussia had for their horses. Otherwise we may have missed out on one of the finest breeds there is.