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 sporthorses.
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, a long leg, and a frequently large head. They are traditionally smaller-boned and smaller-framed than their warmblood counterparts. These characteristics all help them to be more aerodynamic and allows 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 sport horses. Many off-the-track-thoroughbreds (OTTB’s) 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.
Hot Blooded Horses, Arabian
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 pack and riding horses. They had to be surefooted and nimble enough to cover long distances in 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.
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.
Hot Blooded Horses, Akhal-Teke
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, and a bay/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
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 American 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.
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 on 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!