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Thanks for the opportunity to ask some people who might really know, about something that’s been driving me nuts for years! I’m a founder of the International Champagne Horse Association, and also was active in getting cream-colored horses to be recognized by the AQHA. I’ve thus done some research into the origins of the champagne gene, but so far we can only trace it back to about 1900, in the USA.
I’ve looked long and hard at the Royal Hanoverian Creams, which were partially bought out by a circus in England around 1920. Despite my best efforts, I cannot prove that these were anything but cream gene dilutes (not champagne).
The cream gene causes Palomino, buckskin, cremello, perlino, smoky black and smoky cream. See http://horsecolor.com/dilutions/cream/
The champagne gene causes similar but different dilutions. See http://www.ichregistry.com/colors.htm
Now for the fun part. Here is some of the English history with the Creams:
Palomino Horse magazine excerpt:
“Hanoverian Royal Creams are sometimes mentioned in connection with Palominos, although any close association is now doubtful. The Hanoverian Royal Creams were brought to England from Prussia by George I in 1714, but it is generally believed they originated in Spain. (Although John Lawrence, writing in 1809, says these animals ‘may not improbably be of Persian origin’). Some say Prussian nobles received such horses for services in the Spanish army.”
“Hanoverian Royal Creams were a coach breed, more buff or ivory than golden, with light but not white mane and tail. They had pink skins and eyes with white irises and red pupils, and often had coarse heads with Roman noses, so would not be admired by modern Palomino breeders.”
“From 1724 to 1921, with few exceptions, these horses were always used on State occasions, such as the opening of Parliament. They were bred at the royal stables at Hampton Court. They dwindled in numbers until in 1921 the remaining Royal Creams were sold, and no longer used by British royalty. Most of the animals went to circuses, but a few were purchased by Sir Hugh Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake, who is trying to preserve the strain.”
I think this man had a circus, right?
But look at this next tidbit. I have to get an exact date on it, but I think it’s around 1860-1870. It’s from a book about John Rarey, the legendary horse tamer from Ohio.
“In the spring, the Howe and Cushing Great American Circus had roared into town . . . featuring a forty-horse hitch of matched cream-colored horses.”
So . . . do you have any info on these cream-colored horses that these 2 (?) circuses used, and what became of them?

Thanks, Barb Kostelnik

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What I can tell you about the Creams is that I have been involved with them from 2 different angles. I translated Christian von Stenglin’s book ‘The Hanoverian,’ which states that the Royal Hanoverian Creams were last bred at the Herrenhausen Stud. They were very inbred and consequently short-lived and needed false tails for parades. There is a picture of King George 1st coach drawn by these in the configuration described by Nick Brady in the previous reply, i.e. a State team consisting of 8 stallions ridden postillion in 4 pairs with 8 men walking. I will send this by separate mail. Long before I learned this I worked (in the 1960’s) with a team of cream ponies at Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus. They bred these themselves at their circus farm near Northampton, England.
It is difficult to see a blood connection between the two. The Royal Cream ponies, as they were billed, looked ‘every inch’ Welsh Section A’, i.e. small pony size, fiery little things with cresty necks, lots of action, and long, wavy, flowing mains and tails (not the scraggy tails of the Royal Hanoverian creams!). I can only surmise that when Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake was approached to try and revive the declining Royal Hanoverian Creams, and as you have said partially bought them out, he effectively bought the name, and whether any of the original Hanoverian/Spanish/Persian or whatever genes remain will probably never be known.
As to the colour, the Stenglin book states that the Hanoverian creams were cremello. So were the circus ponies – they were basically white with pink or blue (I don’t remember) eyes. I know of no ‘champagne’ coloration. You can’t tell from the pictures, which are in black and white, i.e. the State team I described above and another in the same book from Cumberland Palace, Gmunden, Austria. Herrenhausen House was destroyed in World War II, suggesting the picture is gone, though maybe there is a colour one somewhere? I can’t find the Cumberland Palace picture online, and the place is now a clinic, but you might try contacting them through this link: http://www.schloss-cumberland.at/cumberland/508_DEU_HTML.php?g_currMenuName=service
Meanwhile there is a wealth of information about the Hanoverian Creams available in German.The problem for me is that I don’t understand the technicalities of colour genetics. The website: http://www.pferdefarben.eu/weissgeborene.html describes 4 types of white-born colour type. In this connection it says that the Hanoverians were Dominant White (pure white) with pink skin but blue or dark eyes. It makes a distinction between this and cremello, which is in the category: ‘homozygotes Cremegen aufgehellte Pferde: White Isabell (Cremellos, Perlinos, Smoky Cream). These as silver to cream coloured with pink skin and blue or dark brown eyes. The top-coat hairs are mostly white but can have a reddish tinge. The hooves are light coloured and soft as in Die Hufe sind hell und weich wie beim Atlasschimmel. So this could reinforce your conclusion that the Royal Creams were not champagne coloured.
Incidentally I just found this on Maidstone zoo’s history: http://ronaldwhite.co.uk/Documents/maidstone_zoo_excerpt.pdf. It states that the cream ponies were called ‘Royal’ because two had been given to Queen Victoria by Lord George Sanger’s circus, which until 1911 was the line’s only home. This suggests there may be no connection between the Royal Cream ponies and the Royal Cream Hanoverians. Hang on, I’ll just donate a corgi to Queen Elizabeth, then I can call all my corgis ‘Royal’!

Chris

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I Don’t know about the American circus creams, but I can enlighten you about the English ones. In Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake’s book, ‘The English Circus and Fairground’ published by Methuen & Co. Ltd. London in Dec 1946, he describes in detail the origins of the Royal Hanoverian cream horses. He reports that these horses were originally the royal horses of Spain in the fifteenth century. Some were given by Queen Isabella of Spain as a token of her royal favour to certain German mercenary leaders who had fought and won battles for her. These animals were taken to Germany where, apparently, they were appropriated by the then King of Hanover. As you go on to say in your original post, when George I of England came over from his kingdom of Hanover he brought with him the royal cream horses, which then became the royal horses of the kings of England. They were then used continuously as such until 1920, except for a break of 7 years. Their use was suspended during that period by King George III, in protest to the use by Napoleon of similar horses which he had captured in Hanover, for his state entry into Paris, their use in England being reinstated upon Napoleon’s eventual defeat.
Incidentally, a State team consisted of 8 stallions ridden postillion in 4 pairs with 8 men walking, one at the head of each horse. Because of Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake’s experience of breeding cream ponies (he had a number in his circus), he was approached by the Crown Equerry in 1919 for advice on introducing fresh blood to the creams, which were suffering from centuries of inbreeding. In this he was successful, but then the decision was made to discontinue their use anyway. This was partly for economic reasons and partly because of the low popularity of all things German after the First World War. Nevertheless, when they were withdrawn from royal service Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake was presented with a yearling stallion and 2 yearling fillies in recognition of his assistance with the breeding programme. He added other specimens that he purchased from the royal household and established quite a stud. This he kept together until 1942, when he presented the remainder of it, 2 stallions and 2 mares, to Whipsnade Zoo Park in England. At the time these were the very last specimens of this old breed in the country.

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I Don’t know about the American circus creams, but I can enlighten you about the English ones. In Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake’s book, ‘The English Circus and Fairground’ published by Methuen & Co. Ltd. London in Dec 1946, he describes in detail the origins of the Royal Hanoverian cream horses. He reports that these horses were originally the royal horses of Spain in the fifteenth century. Some were given by Queen Isabella of Spain as a token of her royal favour to certain German mercenary leaders who had fought and won battles for her. These animals were taken to Germany where, apparently, they were appropriated by the then King of Hanover. As you go on to say in your original post, when George I of England came over from his kingdom of Hanover he brought with him the royal cream horses, which then became the royal horses of the kings of England. They were then used continuously as such until 1920, except for a break of 7 years. Their use was suspended during that period by King George III, in protest to the use by Napoleon of similar horses which he had captured in Hanover, for his state entry into Paris, their use in England being reinstated upon Napoleon’s eventual defeat.
Incidentally, a State team consisted of 8 stallions ridden postillion in 4 pairs with 8 men walking, one at the head of each horse. Because of Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake’s experience of breeding cream ponies (he had a number in his circus), he was approached by the Crown Equerry in 1919 for advice on introducing fresh blood to the creams, which were suffering from centuries of inbreeding. In this he was successful, but then the decision was made to discontinue their use anyway. This was partly for economic reasons and partly because of the low popularity of all things German after the First World War. Nevertheless, when they were withdrawn from royal service Sir Garrard Tyrwhitt-Drake was presented with a yearling stallion and 2 yearling fillies in recognition of his assistance with the breeding programme. He added other specimens that he purchased from the royal household and established quite a stud. This he kept together until 1942, when he presented the remainder of it, 2 stallions and 2 mares, to Whipsnade Zoo Park in England. At the time these were the very last specimens of this old breed in the country.

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