When describing a horse as hot, cold, or warmblood we are grouping different breeds of horses based on their temperament, build, movement, and the tasks they are most suited to perform. Hot-blooded horses are bred for speed and have a high energy level. Cold-blooded horses are bred for strength and endurance and have a lower energy level. Warmblood horses are a mix of the two and are bred for a variety of tasks.
What are the hot blood breeds?
Hot blooded horses are used for racing in the West, but the tribes who still roam the reaches of outer Mongolia breed and ride these horses as a way of life. Arabians have a long history of domestication.
In the Middle Ages, Arabs were breeding their horses according to what is now long-established practice: for speed, strength, conformation and temperament. Several hundred years later, Arabians are the most prized and costly horse breed. “Hot blooded” refers to their temperament, which has been described as difficult by some and passionate by others.
There are only two recognized hot-blood breeds; the Arabian and the Thoroughbred. Arabians didn’t reach the European continent until the 16th or 17th Centuries, but once they did, they revolutionized horse breeding.
Breeding the Arabians with English horses created the Thoroughbred, which is used for racing and other sporting events. Hot blooded horses are known for their speed: with lighter bodies and a passion that outstrips other breeds, their quickness makes them ideal race horses. But the same fire that makes them fast makes them high strung or fiery tempered.
Hotbloods, often likened to passionate human artists by those who understand their temperaments, can injure themselves in training or racing when their need for speed outpaces their bodies’ capacity for endurance. Because they are high strung, hot blooded horses may also be injured when trying to escape from something frightening, when upset at being transported or when faced with a new situation.
Race horses demand a lot from their owners and handlers. For the specialist with the money for training, stabling and racing, hot blooded horses can be an exciting life. But these horses have to be handled by people who know what they’re doing; experts with plenty of experience. Because of their sensitivity, hot blooded horses can be too easily harmed by ineffective or inexpert handling. Their legs are delicate and must be protected by careful handling and the right kind of support. They are the most expensive horses, being costly to breed and buy, which makes them the playthings of the very wealthy and the backbone of the extremely lucrative worldwide racing industry.
Here are some horse breeds considered hot bloods:
- Moroccan Barb
- Shagya Arabian
- Spanish Barb
What are the warm-blood equine breeds?
The warm blooded breeds were created when warriors returned to Europe from the Middle East and Africa with hot blooded Arabian horses captured in battle.
Breeding the large, heavy war horses of northern Europe with the lighter, faster and fiery tempered hot bloods from the Mongolian steppes created horse breeds that combine the quickness and agility of race horses with the larger build and milder temperament of cold bloods. Over time, the draft horses of Europe were increasingly bred with hot blooded imports, creating the forerunners of dozens of breeds in existence today. Warmbloods have smaller heads and bodies than draft horses and tend to be less excitable than hot blooded horses, making them good all-round horses for riding and light work.
Warm blooded horses are popular in Olympic sporting events such as dressage, and many European breeders are breeding warmbloods for competition. The Hanoverian is one currently breed popular for eventing. Warm-blooded horses are also considered perfect for riding, and in America, the West was won on the backs of warmblood breeds. Considered perfect for roping, cutting and herding, the fortunes of cattle owners increased by the warmbloods and the cowboys who rode them, pushing thousands of head of cattle to the rapidly populating and hungry Western city centers. Most popular American breeds—the Quarter horse, the Tennessee Walking horse and the Palomino—are all examples of excellent horses derived from the original breeding of draft horses and Arabians.
If you plan to ride as a sport but aren’t looking for a heavy work horse, you will probably buy a warmblood breed. They aren’t quick-tempered as hot bloods, but they have a different life’s purpose from cold bloods. Excellent for riding, dressage and other events, warmbloods are also the breeds for people who want their children to experience the joys of horseback riding.
Here are some of the warmblood breeds:
|American Albino||American Bashkir Curly|
|American Indian Horse||American Saddlebred|
|Australian Stock Horse||Azteca|
|Banker Horse||Belgian Warmblood|
|Canadian||Canadian Sport Horse|
|Florida Cracker Horse||Gelderlander|
|Missouri Fox Trotter||Morab|
|National Show Horse||Westphalian|
|Peruvian Paso||Quarter Horse|
|Racking Horse||Rocky Mountain Horse|
|Selle Francais||Spanish Mustang|
|Tennessee Walking Horse||Trakehner|
What are the cold-blood equine breeds?
Large horses with a gentle disposition and a placid interactive style are usually referred to as cold bloods. Cold blooded horses are descendants of the ancient European breeds used for farming, hauling and other types of heavy work.
Early cold blooded horses were also used for war: Medieval knights needed heavy, strong mounts that could be armored and carry a heavily armored man. Charging with a lance also required a horse with weight, and the heavy cold blooded horses proved equal to the task.
Draft horses are considered coldbloods; they tend to be larger than warm and hot blooded horses by a couple of hands and may weight two hundred pounds or more than warm blooded horses. Examples of cold blooded horses include the Clydesdale, the Shire and the Belgian. Cold blooded horses, because of their stolid demeanor and great weight are not suitable for sports other than hauling or pulling competitions at farm shows.
Some people love the look of draft horses, who have thicker coats and manes to enable them to endure rough weather more readily than sleeker horses. Their heads and eyes are large, their legs and shoulders massive, for pulling wagons filled with hay or dung or for being in harness. The horses that once drew wagons of kegged beer or produce through the streets of the major cities of the western world were draft horses. Today, you’re most likely to encounter them at working historic farms, in the Amish towns of the Midwest, or at country farm shows.
If you want a horse to work plowing or hauling on your farm or for occasional riding, a cold-blooded horse is a fine choice. Their easy manner makes them gentle with children, and it takes a lot to spook them. Some people mistake their easy going temperament for thick-headedness, but in fact draft horses are very intelligent. Built for endurance, these horses tend to have stronger limbs, often with long, thick hair around their lower legs and hooves for added warmth. These most ancient breeds were used in Europe for all kinds of work and are still bred and worked by enthusiasts.
Here breed considered cold bloods:
- American Cream Draft
- Belgian Heavy Draft
- Black Forest Chestnut
- Suffolk Punch
- Swedish Ardennes
When choosing a horse, it is important to consider its temperament, build, and movement. You should also think about the task you want the horse to perform. If you want a horse for racing, you will need a hot-blooded horse. If you want a horse for pulling a carriage, you will need a cold-blooded horse. If you want a horse for dressage or jumping, you will need a warmblood. Choosing the right type of horse for the job will help you to have a safe and enjoyable experience.