Why Are Some Horses Called Warmbloods?

You may have heard horses referred to as “hot blood” or “cold blood.” As mammals, all horses are warm-blooded, physiologically. So, what exactly do these terms mean?

When talking about horses, these terms refer to temperament. Hotblood horses tend to be energetic, brave, and reactive. They were bred for their speed and tended to be used in racing. Cold-blooded horses, on the other hand, tend to be much calmer and gentler than their warm-blooded cousins. They are usually taller and heavier as well, as they tend to be used as hard workers.

Now that you know a bit more about cold and warm blooded horses, let’s talk about another common term: warm blooded.


What is Warm Blood?

As you might have guessed, a warm-blooded horse is a breed of horse bred by crossing a cold-blooded breed with a warm-blooded breed. Most warmbloods were originally bred in Europe, particularly Germany. His goal was to develop a horse that had the physical strength and athletic ability of a warm-blooded man, but the calm temperament of a cold-blooded man.

Physically, warm bloods tend to be moderately heavy horses, weighing between 1,250-1,450 pounds. In comparison, light horses tend to weigh around 1,000 pounds and the heaviest horses can weigh up to 2,600 pounds. They were historically bred as cavalry and agricultural horses, but today they are mainly used for sport and recreation.

What breed is considered warm blood?

Don’t confuse the term “hot blood” with breed of horse. Although the term tends to refer to a specific breed of horse, warmblood itself is not a race. So, which horse breeds are considered warm-blooded? While there are many warm blood breeds, there are only a few that are considered basic breeds. Many other warm-blooded populations resulted from the combination of these breeds of origin.

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The origins of the Hanoverian race can be traced back to the 16th century. Hanoverians were bred in Germany as military chariots and horses. After World War II, there was little emphasis on the use of horses in this domain. Today, the Hanoverian is one of the leading breeds in Olympic equestrian sport.



The Holsteiner breed is one of the oldest warm blood breeds, being thought to have been developed in the 13th century by monks in northern Germany. In modern times, these horses are very successful in show hunting and show jumping.



The Trakehner breed originated in East Prussia during the 18th century, in a town called Trakehnen. It was there that King Frederick William I used horses from a neighboring kingdom to set up a royal stud. The goal was to develop a cavalry horse that was light, strong, and fast. Since they had to serve the king’s army, they also had to be graceful and noble. Later, several Arab stallions and British breeds were selected to be added to the breed. This carefully controlled breeding has resulted in a horse that has the characteristics of elegance that set it apart from other warmbloods.

Selle Franais

sele francais

As you might expect, Selle Français is from France. The name literally means “French saddle.” In 19th century Normandy, the French mare was crossed with the Thoroughbred and the now extinct Norfolk Trotter. The resulting horses are known as half-sang or “half-blood” horses because they have only one purebred parent. These saddle horses were officially incorporated and recognized as a breed in 1958 when horses were no longer needed for military and agricultural purposes after World War II. Like many warm bloods, Selle Français is an excellent show horse. Thanks to their Thoroughbred breed, these horses are faster and tougher than other horses of their kind.

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While warmblood horses were originally bred as military and agricultural horses, they are hardly used in this area today. On the other hand, you will most often see warm blood dominate equestrian and recreational sports. Their short-tempered nature in combination with their athleticism makes them ideal not only for showjumping and dressage, but many other activities as well.

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