Latvian Equine Veterinary Association Joins WEVA

Latvian Equine Veterinary Association Joins WEVA

The modern Latvian Horse is a combination of the features of the sport and harness horses.

Photo: Ingii/Wikimedia Commons

By Gary L. Norwood, DVM, WEVA past-president


The Latvian Equine Veterinary Association (LEVA) has joined the World Equine Veterinary Association (WEVA). Currently WEVA has more than 40 member associations from around the world.

A subdivision of the Latvian Association of Veterinarians, LEVA has approximately 20 members that meet three to four times per year. Once a year, the association organizes a larger meeting with invited speakers. Most recently, Steve O’Grady, DVM, MRCVS, a veterinarian, farrier, and owner of Virginia Therapeutic Farriery, in Keswick, presented a two-day workshop on farriery.

The current officers include Juris Tolpeznikovs, President; Anna Vainute, Secretary; Dace Tolpeznikova, Treasurer; and Board Members Dana Laizane and Aija Pavlovska.

Latvia is home to the Latvian Horse, also known as Latviiskaya (Russian), Latviiskii upryazhnyi (Russian), Latvian Carriage, Latvian Coach, and Latvian Draft. The breed was developed in Latvia from the beginning of the 20th century up to 1952 when it was officially recognized, by crossing the native horses with West European harness and harness-saddle breeds. Oldenburg, Hanoverian, and, to a lesser extent, Holsteiner stallions had the most influence.

Prior to 1960, Latvian breeders emphasized the harness type. Subsequently, as equestrian sports developed in Latvia on a larger scale, the number of sport-type horses increased through infusion of the Hanoverian and, to a lesser extent, Arabian and Thoroughbred blood. The modern Latvian Horse is a combination of the features of the sport and harness horses. Latvian Horses are multitalented and excel in various disciplines, including dressage, endurance riding, general riding, jumping, and work.

Typically, Latvian Horses are bay, black, chestnut, gray, or brown and stand between 15.1 and 16 hands tall.

Latvians have a well-proportioned and solid build; the joints are sometimes coarse. The muscles are well-developed, bone structure solid, chest broad, withers moderately pronounced or high and long and with a normal slope, and legs properly set and with well-developed knee joints and hocks.

Latvians tend to have a large head with a straight profile, a neck that is long and muscular and set into prominent withers. The shoulders are long and sloping and the chest high and deep. The back is straight, with a long, slightly sloping croup, and the legs are solid and well-muscled with strong joints, although rather short.

Conformational problems that can arise include cow hocks and a predisposition for ringbone. In general, they have good musculature, stamina, and endurance. The Latvian is perceived as a generally healthy breed with no known breed-specific health issues. 

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