The Abtenauer breed of horse is small and stocky, with very powerful legs. It excels as a draft horse – as it’s small and muscular legs help the horse keep a good center of gravity, which leads to excellent balance.
This is especially useful for navigating the rough mountain and forest terrain of Western Germany.
The fact that the Abtenauer is cold blooded also makes it an excellent candidate for work as a draft horse.
The Abtenauer has a quiet, willing disposition and stands between 14.3 to 15 hands high. Of lighter bone than the Noriker, the Abtenauer breeds true to type and is well adapted to the poor soil on which it lives.
The breed is known for its easy, flowing trotting action. The Abtenauer is elegantly built with a well-shaped head and strong legs. Abtenauers are usually black, chestnut, or blue roan; black is the most common color but all colors are accepted, except leopard spotting.
Mares and foals spend the summers in pasture high in the mountains and are fed salt once a week to prevent them from becoming feral. They spend the summer freely roaming the alpine meadows with cattle. Often foals are born with peculiar curly coats that are lost when the baby hair is shed.
The Abtenauer originated in the Abtenau region of Austria, south-east of Salzburg, but is often is called a German breed. About 100 mares were located in the Abtenau Province and developed the Abtenauer type of Noriker which some define as a breed. They were mountain horses used for hauling wood.