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Nonius horse
The Nonius, or Nóniusz, is a horse breed named after its Anglo-Norman foundation sire. The breed was developed at the Imperial Stud at Mezőhegyes, Hungary by careful linebreeding. Originally bred to serve as a light draft and utility horse for Hungary's military, the breed became a useful agricultural horse during the 20th century. Today the breed is bred by preservationists and is used in agriculture, leisure riding, and competitive driving sports. The largest numbers of Nonius horses are still found at Mezőhegyes, with representatives in other eastern European nations as well.

History
Horse-breeding has been an important facet of Hungarian culture since its settlement, due largely to its geographic location and open plains. The Ottoman Conquest, beginning in 1526, saw an influx of eastern, desert-type horses traditionally described as "oriental." These Arabian and Turkish horses were elegant and reactive, and left their mark on the stock of Hungarian horses.[1] Even after the Ottoman occupation of Hungary ended in 1699, the attachment between Hungary and the Arabian horse remained. During the 18th century, the Hungarian court and aristocracy began to follow the tastes of their western neighbors for Iberian types. The Spanish and Neapolitan imports of the time sparked the creation of the Lipizzaner and Kladruber. These Austrian breeds are known for the features of their Spanish-Neapolitan ancestors: thick, high-set neck, elegant but heavy head, short back and agility.[1] Demand for suitable mounts for the courtiers and aristocrats outstripped the production by private breeders, and so during his reign Joseph II instructed the building of a number of state Stud farms.

Mezohegyes State Stud of the Imperial Court
The State Stud of the Hungarian Royal and Imperial Court, Mezohegyes, was founded in 1784 to help meet the demand for horses.At the time, Hungary was home to 1.5 million horses, with the Hungarian cavalry requiring between 10,000 and 15,000 new mounts per year.Different horses fulfilled different roles: courtiers and aristocrats wanted agile, responsive, impressive riding horses for their military endeavors, resilient mounts for hunting on horseback, in addition to elegant carriage horses. Fulfilling these demands led Mezohegyes to develop several different breeds and strains: the Arab-influenced Gidrán, half-bred Furioso-North Star, and the heavier Nonius.

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Additional Photos by Csaba Witz (csabagaba) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 591 W: 172 N: 1399] (6554)
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