Last Updated on March 15, 2023
When it comes to horses, many terms can be confusing. For example, hot-blooded horse breeds are a classification within the equestrian world.
Aren’t horses mammals? So shouldn’t they all be warm-blooded? The easy answer is yes, horses are mammals, and they all have warm blood.
There really are hot-blooded horses. Animals like reptiles are considered cold-blooded. But, leave it to the horse world to confuse everyone and give words double meanings!
All horses are biologically warm-blooded, but there are categories of horse breeds that classify horses into hot-blooded, warm-blooded, and cold-blooded. These terms have nothing to do with the actual temperature of the horse’s blood, and everything to do with the temperament of the horse.
Cold-blooded horses are the draft horses (Clydesdales, Percherons, etc.), the gentle giants. They are so named because they are calm and easy-going. Warm-blooded horses (i.e.- warmbloods; Dutch Warmblood, Westphalian, Hanovarian) are fairly level-headed breeds that are lighter and used as sport horses.
And hot-blooded horses are horse breeds with high energy, typically bred for racing or endurance. In this article, I will be discussing these hot-blooded breeds and how they contribute to the equestrian world today. Today’s hot-blooded horse breeds include the Thoroughbred, Arabian, Akhal-Teke, and Barb.
Hot-Blooded Horses Breeds
Everyone has heard of the Thoroughbred. Most commonly known for track racing, the Thoroughbred has been a large contributor to the world of sport horses, especially in North America.
The Thoroughbred is characterized by long legs, an athletic build, and a long neck. They are traditionally smaller-boned and smaller-framed than their warm-blood counterparts. These characteristics all help them to be more aerodynamic and allow them to run more easily.
Thoroughbreds come in all solid colors, even roans, and palominos, though they are most commonly bay and dark bay. They are known for being high-energy and extremely intelligent horses.
While Thoroughbreds were bred for racing, they have grown into many different roles in the world of sports horses. Many off-the-track-thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are given fresh starts in new careers after their time on the track. These careers can vary from jumping to dressage to trail riding, depending on the horse and trainer.
Thoroughbreds are extremely smart and can excel in any discipline with the right program and training. My current horse is an OTTB; we had a successful dressage career together for his first few years off the track, and we recently started competing in the jumper and equitation rings.
Thoroughbreds have also contributed to the bloodlines of many warm-blooded breeds. Breeders have crossed thoroughbreds with cold-blooded horses to produce many sport horse breeds today that excel in English riding disciplines.
Look no further than The Black Stallion book series for a synopsis of the Arabian breed! The Arabian is one of the oldest recorded horse breeds. With its classic dished face and elegant step, it’s hard to miss an Arabian in a crowd.
Arabians were bred in the Middle East as a pack and riding horses. They had to be surefooted and nimble enough to cover long distances on dry, often sand footing. Arabians have incredible stamina and endurance which is used today as well as in their rich history.
Arabians come in all sold colors; anything outside of solid color (i.e.- any pinto patterning) will disqualify a horse from being a purebred Arabian. They are known for their dished, delicate face, and their high-held tails.
Today, Arabians are the preferred mount for endurance riders. It doesn’t take much to condition an Arabian due to the breed’s natural stamina. Arabians are also suitable for dressage with their high step and naturally flashy gaits. They can also be good trail horses and they can excel in just about every discipline, making them excellent show horses.
Arabians are high-energy and are best handled by experienced horsemen. It all depends on each individual horse, but Arabians can be difficult to handle if you are not accustomed to the breed. They are not aggressive, but they are spirited.
Similar to the Arabian, the Akhal-Teke was bred in the Middle East for riding and endurance across long distances. The Akhal-Teke quickly became known for its beauty and unique colors and was valued by royalty and wealthy horse owners.
The Akhal-Teke often has a bronze or copper undertone to whatever color it comes in. The most famous of these colors are palomino, buckskin, bay, and dun. Within the last decade, a “golden” horse, a bronze-colored palomino Akhal-Teke was dubbed the “most beautiful horse in the world.”
Today, there are not very many Akhal-Tekes. They have not found a career in Europe or North America in the same ways that Thoroughbreds and Arabians have. But, where they are found, they are valued.
Akhal-Tekes are best handled by people that have experience with high-energy breeds. They can be spirited and seemingly unpredictable unless you know what you are looking for. These unique horses have athletic builds and stunning coats known for their metallic shine.
The Barb horse shares characteristics with both the Arabian and the Akhal-Teke. The Barb was also bred in the Middle East to be a riding and packhorse. Its job was to carry its owners and their possessions across long stretches of sandy, dry terrain.
The Barb is built more heavily than the Arabian and the Akhal-Teke, which makes it more surefooted and strong. It also comes in all solid colors; no pinto markings are allowed. There are not many Barbs today, especially in North America and Europe.
Similar to the Akhal-Teke, the Barb hasn’t found a new career in either the Americas or Europe. But, it is still doing the same jobs it has always done in the Middle East. Barb horses are still valued for their surefootedness and endurance today.
Warm-Blooded vs Cold-Blooded Horses
The two most common categories of horses based on temperament are warm-blooded and cold-blooded horses. Cold-blooded horses are docile, heavy-bodied horses, which are often draft horses. Cold-blooded horses are horses that have been bred for agricultural work and to carry heavy weight over long distances.
Common examples of cold-blooded horses include Percherons, Clydesdales, Shires, and Belgians. They are sturdy, reliable horses and while they can be used for riding, it is not their most common purpose.
Warm-blooded horses were created by crossing cold-blooded horses with hot-blooded horses. These horses made suitable mounts for riding as well as carriage driving. They are athletic horses that combine the best qualities of warm-blooded and hot-blooded horses.
What Does Warmblood Horse Mean?
Horses can be classified in many different ways. They can be grouped as light, draft, gaited, warmbloods, or pony, according to their size, weight, and build. They can also be classified as warm-blooded, hot-blooded, and cold-blooded.
The term warmblood in the equine world can get confusing as warm-blooded and warmblood can have two different meanings. A warm-blooded horse is simply a horse that was created from crossing hot-blooded and cold-blooded horses. They are middle-sized horses known for their athletic ability and versatility.
The term warmblood refers to middle-weight horse types and breeds that primarily originate from Europe. They are registered with organizations that are characterized by an open studbook policy, studbook selection, and the purpose of breeding for an equestrian sport such as dressage or jumping.
Warmblood registries accept breeding stock of horses of similar populations and breeding to continuously improve their own. This differs from ‘true breeds’ where the dam and sire must be both purebreds of the same breed to be registered. However, what is considered a warmblood can vary by who you ask as the definition leaves some room for interpretation.
Is a Quarter horse a warmblood?
When talking about warm-blooded, hot-blooded, and cold-blooded, many would say a Quarter horse would fall under warm-blooded. However, Quarter horses are considered to be a light breed of the horse rather than a warmblood.
Quarter horses are a widely popular breed in America. They excel in every western discipline thanks to their stocky, athletic builds. While they are most commonly used as western mounts, they can also shine in hunter pleasure, jumping, and dressage.
Horses that fall under the category of light horses generally range in height from 14.2-17.1 hands tall. Though their conformations vary, they typically have light, athletic builds and weigh between 800-1,400 pounds. They are used for a wide variety of riding and driving disciplines and cover a large number of horse breeds.
Types of warmblood horses
The most common types of warmblood horses include the Dutch Warmblood, Holstein, Westphalian, Trakhener, Hanoverian, Oldenburg, Selle Français, and Belgian Warmblood. These horses originate from Europe and have open studbooks.
They are bred for athletic ability, specializing in jumping and dressage. In warmblood breeds, mares and stallions of other warmblood breeds can become part of the breeding studbook, pending inspection. Too be a part of the registry, they are generally approved by pedigree, competitive performance, and inspection.
Conclusion: Hot-Blooded Horse Breeds
Hot-blooded horses can be found in many different roles today. Some still perform the roles they were originally bred to do, and some have found new careers in different disciplines. The Thoroughbred, the Arabian, the Akhal-Teke, and the Barb are all large contributors, in their own part, to the role horses have in society today.
I hope this article helped you learn more about hot-blooded horse breeds! If so please share it, and share with us your experiences working with any of these breeds!
How do you tell if a horse is hot blooded?
Hot blooded horses are different from cold blooded brothers in several ways. They can be very energetic and never seem to get tired of running around! They're usually the type of horse that tends to buck when they're startled or excited. They also tend to be very competitive and enjoy competing against each other.
When hot blooded horses get hot, they sweat and their heart rate can increase excessively. They also tend to perspire heavily when doing hard work.
How do hot blooded horses compare to cold blooded horses?
Hot blooded horses tend to be skinny and tall with long necks and legs. Their heads are usually smaller than the rest of their body. When hot blooded horses are relaxed, they can have a hard time staying focused on what's going on around them. They also tend to be more timid and nervous than cold blooded horses.
When hot blooded horses get hot, their hearts beat faster and they breathe harder. Hot blooded horses also lose a lot of water through sweating.
Cold blooded horses on the other hand are usually much stockier and shorter in stature than hot blooded horses. Their heads are larger in proportion to the rest of their bodies and when they get hot, it takes a longer time for them to cool down.
Cold blooded horses tend to perspire less when exercising and don't always pant. They also tend to be more focused on what's going on around them than hot blooded horses.
Cold blooded horses have a lower metabolic rate, so they use energy less rapidly than hot blooded horses do.
Are hot blooded horses sensitive to heat?
Horses can withstand cold much better than hot temperatures. However, hot blooded horses do tend to be much more sensitive to hot weather than cold blooded horses are.
If hot blooded horses are exposed to hot weather for too long without enough shade and water, they might become dehydrated and overheated. They will start to drool excessively and eventually collapse. Their heart rate will increase rapidly, their body temperature may rise to dangerous levels, and they might even go into shock or develop heat stroke. Even if hot blooded horses are given shade and water, it's important that they are taken out of hot weather for a few hours.
Are Mustangs hot blooded?
Mustangs are hot blooded horses. They descended from the famous hot blooded Arabian horse.
When the Spanish first arrived in America they found mustangs roaming wild on the hot desert plains. The Spanish began to capture some of these mustangs and breed them with their hot blooded horses. These mixtures of hot bloods produced an extremely strong horse that was suitable for the hot climate in which it lived.
Mustangs tend to be very hot tempered. They can be easily provoked into a fight for no apparent reason, but once the fight starts it is hard to stop them. When mustangs are crossed with hot bloods they often produce hot temperament foals that are prone to fighting.
They also have high energy levels. They need to be hot walked (an exercise in which the hot blooded horse is worked hard while hot) at least once a week through hot weather, and 3 times per week during cold weather.
Michael Dehaan is a passionate horse owner, horse rider, and lover of all things equine. He has been around horses since he was a child, and has grown to become an expert in the field. He has owned and ridden a variety of horses of different breeds, and has trained many to compete in shows and competitions. He is an experienced horseman, having worked with and competed many horses, including his own. He is an active member of the equestrian community, participating in events and teaching riding lessons.