The Old Kladruber, or also known as simply Kladruber, which has been kept and bred for more than 400 years is perhaps the only breed worldwide to have been specifically bred to pull imperial or royal carriages. Though the title of oldest original studfarm is often awarded to that of the Lipizzaner, a slovenian breed originating in Lipica, it is notable that the studfarm in Kladruby was established a year before the one in Lipica. The Kladruber and Lipizzaner have many features in common, and are in many ways like two sides of a coin - it is sometimes said that the Lipizzaner is the ridden version of the Kladruber. Over the years, the Lipica and Kladruby stud farms have exchanged stock several times, as they originate from the same breeds. The Kladruber is very rare, with only approximately 1,200 horses in the world at any given time.
The grey horses were used for ceremonial purpose at the imperial court, whilst the black horses were also used by high-up church officials. The Kladruber counts as a "Baroque" horse breed, as well as a heavy warmblood.
Features observed in the Kladruber include a convex head (with a rounded Roman nose) with big, lively eyes; a high-set, powerful and arched neck with less noticeable withers; a broad and deep chest; a massive broad back; a good bony fundament. All gaits, though especially the trot, have high action and elasticity with a clear cadence.
Their peaceful and well-balanced nature makes them often put to use in equine-assisted therapy and ideal partners for leisure rides.
Originally, the Kladruber came in a variety of colors, including cream dilutions and appaloosa, but today the breed is strictly grey or black.
The breed has been recognized by the United Nations as a World Cultural Monument, and is the only horse breed to have ever achieved the status of a living work of art.
Most kladrubers are grey or black with little to no white markings. Bay, sooty bay, chestnut and liver chestnut are available in the breed, but extremely rare. Flaxen is also present.
The horses with the grey gene have been selected to mature (grey out completely) early on since the breed was established. Regularly, depigmentation occurs, causing the usually dark grey skin around the mouth, nose, eyes and similar soft areas to become pink. It makes them look even more "white". Recent crosses with black horses have resulted in a more dappled look.
White markings are very rare in the black bloodlines. These horses have been selected to be as uniform as possible, and white markings would have made the selection of matching carriage horses much smaller. The grey lines do have white markings, but they quickly become nigh invisible once the foal matures.