Last Updated on April 12, 2022
Are you a fan of warmblood horse breeds? Let’s find out everything you need to know about this versatile and popular type of horse!
What Are Warmblood Horse Breeds?
All horse breeds and types are defined by one of three categories – cold-blooded horses, hot-blooded horses, and warmbloods.
Cold-blooded horse breeds can normally be traced back to horse breeds from cold climates. These are breeds of horses that are calm, resilient, and able to survive in bad weather with little food. The most famous types of cold-blooded horses are draft horses, such as the Shire and Belgian draft.
Hot-blooded horses come from the opposite end of the spectrum – they are fine-limbed, athletic, and originate from hot climates. The most notable breeds of hot-blooded horses are the Arabian and the Thoroughbred.
So, where do warmblood horse breeds fit into all this? Well, a warm-blood is quite simply a breed of horse that was created by crossing a cold blood breed with a hot blood breed! This means that most warmbloods can trace their origins back to the Arabian or Thoroughbred, crossed with a draft horse breed.
These initial breeding programs all took place a long time ago, and since then many years have been spent fine-tuning these breeds to turn them into some of the finest equine athletes in the world. The modern-day warmblood is not normally a direct cross between hot and cold blood but is more likely to be bred from two warm-blooded horses.
Because most warmblood breeds are relatively new in terms of breeding stock, their studbooks are normally quite open to bringing in bloodlines that will improve the breed. There are some exceptions to this, such as the Trakehner, Holstein, and Hanoverian, where the studbook is semi-closed to outside influences to maintain the purity of the breed.
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Warmblood Horse Characteristics
The crossing of draft horses and hot-blooded equines was originally done to preserve the desirable traits of both breeds. The aim was to produce foals with the speed, athleticism, stamina, and boldness of the hot-blooded horse, combined with the strength, level-headed temperament, and endurance of the cold-blooded horse.
Initial experiments in breeding warmblood horses were so successful that these new breeds exploded in popularity across Europe. Each country and region quickly developed its own warmblood breed, by crossing Arabians or Thoroughbreds with their native draft breeds. Often, other breeds would also be introduced to add desirable traits.
The results of this breeding program have been outstanding, and the number of warmblood horse breeds that now compete at an international level is a testament to this. The warmblood horse characteristics turned out to be everything the breeders hoped – strong, athletic, calm, bold, resilient, and fast.
Warmblood horse breeds now top the rankings in the majority of international horse competitions, particularly show jumping, dressage, and eventing. They cannot compete with Arabians and Thoroughbreds in terms of speed, and draft horses when it comes to strength, but they come out on top in many other events.
Different Types Of Warmblood Horses
There are many different types of warmblood horses; many of these originate from Europe, but they are now popular all around the world.
Here are some of the finest examples of warmblood horses:
The Oldenburger horse breed can be traced back to 17th century Germany. The local Friesian mares were crossed with imported stallions, including the North African Barb and Danish Frederiksborg breeds. Along with Neapolitan and Turkish influences, the result was a statuesque carriage and riding horse.
The modern-day Oldenburger, or Oldenburg, is often seen competing at top-level showjumping and dressage competitions.
Selle-Francais – Warmblood Horse Breeds
In the 19th century, native mares from Normandy, France, were bred with Thoroughbred or Norfolk Trotter stallions. The result of this breeding was an elegant saddle horse, that was then refined over many centuries of breeding. The outcome was the Selle-Francais, a modern-day athletic superstar which often tops the table in eventing and showjumping.
In the 17oos, King George II founded a breeding program in Hanover, Germany. His aim was to refine local breeding stock by introducing bloodlines including Holsteiner, Thoroughbred, and the Cleveland Bay. By the end of the century, the Hanoverian was a high-class and refined coach horse.
During the two world wars, the focus of breeding Hanoverian horses changed, due to the need for farm horses. After this, the demand for sports horses grew, and Thoroughbreds were often used to refine this athletic breed.
Warmblood Horse Breeds Summary
So, as we have learned, warmblood horse breeds are breeds of horses that were originally created by crossing a cold-blooded breed, such as draft horse, with a hot-blooded Arabian or Thoroughbred. Nowadays, it is more likely that two warmbloods will be bred together, rather than a cross between two different breeds. The breeding of warmbloods has created some of the finest equine athletes of modern times.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about warmblood horse breeds! Are you a fan of a particular breed of warmblood horse? Or maybe you’ve got a question about a specific warmblood horse type? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
What Does It Mean If A Horse Is A Warmblood?
The term warmblood has absolutely nothing to do with the temperature of a horse's blood! All horses have the same temperature blood, and the term warmblood is used to describe a particular type of horse.
The origins of most warmblood breeds means that they are descended from large, strong farm horses - a cold blood - with a hot blood, such as a Thoroughbred or Arabian horse. This led them to be named warmbloods, and the name seems to have stuck!
What Is The Calmest Warmblood Breed?
Different types and breeds of warmblood can vary hugely in terms of temperament, and two horses of the same breed can have very different temperaments.
Warmbloods might be more sensible than their Arabian or Thoroughbred counterparts, but they are nowhere near as calm as their draft horse ancestors! There is no one breed of warmblood which is considered to be the calmest.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse
care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since
she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local
stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She
has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in
various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the
patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went
on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in
the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of
horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for
educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN REVN RVN A1