Hot Blood, Warm Blood, Cold Blood in HorsesBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 17, 2014
Have you ever heard the term “cold-blooded” for a horse? If someone in your boarding barn is talking about a new horse and says it’s a warmblood, what does that mean? Since all horses are mammals and are therefore physiologically warm-blooded, the designations don’t initially make sense.
These informal terms are used to group different breeds loosely by their temperament. Arabian and Thoroughbred horses usually fall into the hot-blooded group, as they tend to be a bit more nervous and energetic than some other equines. Cold-blooded horses encompass the draft breeds such as Percherons, Shires, Clydesdales, and Belgians. Large-boned and heavy-bodied, these horses were developed to use in draft and agricultural work, and were selected for a calm temperament.
Warm-blooded horse breeds were produced by crossing hot-blooded and cold-blooded horses. Many countries developed strains of these horses that could be used for riding or for drawing wagons and carriages. Dutch Warmblood, Hanoverian, Holsteiner, and Trakhener horses are usually calmer than Thoroughbreds, but have the ability to move more athletically than the heavier draft breeds. Warmbloods are often the type of choice for many disciplines such as dressage, driving, and eventing.